Dr Rachel Malkin

C20th and C21st American writing, the novel post-1945, themes of ‘experience’, intellectual history, modernism, liberalism, American romanticism and its afterlives, philosophy in its relations to culture (literature/art/film), the ordinary/everyday.

My current monograph in progress, forthcoming from Edinburgh University Press, highlights a set of inheritances. Each of the writers I consider engages with the legacy of modernism, with philosophies of experience, and with the American transcendentalism most often associated with Emerson. This constellation of interests emerges against a defined historical background, one that highlights the period from the New Deal through the upheavals of the 1960s, as well as liberal doubt in the present. Here, ideas of ordinary, common, and experiential value inform a philosophical position that is also a politics. Must we connect aesthetic experience with (national) improvement? My book argues that two takes on the idea of ‘experience’ meet in the work of these writers, with revealing implications for their pictures of community.

Associated current interests include changes in the register of optimism in contemporary American writing, criticism and affirmation, the inheritance of the 1930s and 1960s in contemporary fiction, the mid-C20th avant-garde, and themes of ordinariness, existentialism, and Emersonianism in American film.

C20th and C21st American writing, C19th American writing, contemporary literatures in English