The exonerative deterministic: uses of neo-naturalism in twenty-first century American culture
Cambridge University Press
This article examines the resurgence of an especially deterministic form of naturalism in contemporary American culture, which can be linked to particular attributes of neoliberalism. In particular, neoliberal power is shown to have been exercised partly through what the author terms “exonerative determinism,” a discourse whereby those in power claim to have been forced by outside circumstances into morally dubious policies. Two neo-naturalist texts – Dave Eggers's novel Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?, and the television miniseries The Night Of – are employed as case studies in order to examine the discourse of exonerative determinism. The essay concludes with a brief examination of how this discourse has been more overtly employed during the Trump administration.
Neoliberalism , American culture , Determinism , American Literature
Gibbs, A. (2021) 'The Exonerative Deterministic: Uses of Neo-naturalism in Twenty-First Century American Culture', Journal Of American Studies, 55 (5), pp. 1-25. 10.1017/S0021875820001681
This article has been published in a revised form in Journal of American Studies, http://doi.org/10.1017/S0021875820001681 This version is published under a Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND. No commercial re-distribution or re-use allowed. Derivative works cannot be distributed. © Cambridge University Press and British Association for American Studies 2020.