Grand Narratives of Social Justice in Chang-Rae Lee’s Native Speaker and Colson Whitehead’s The Intuitionist

Sloane, Peter (2018) Grand Narratives of Social Justice in Chang-Rae Lee’s Native Speaker and Colson Whitehead’s The Intuitionist. In: Social Justice and American Literature. Salem Press, pp. 212-228. ISBN 1682175669

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Abstract

In his seminal work, The Postmodern Condition (1979), the philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard famously defines the postmodern as an ‘incredulity toward metanarratives’, arguing that ‘[w]e no longer have recourse to the grand narratives - we can resort neither to the dialectic of Spirit nor even to the emancipation of humanity’ as explanatory models. We might read ‘the emancipation of humanity’ as an analogue for social justice. I want to suggest that these two key terms, ‘society’, and ‘justice’, are indeed subject to Lyotard’s postulated erosion of legitimacy, due in part to tensions between inter- and intra-group conflicts in the American political ideology. This essay will explore this hypothesis through readings of Chang Rae Lee’s Native Speaker (1995), and Colson Whitehead’s The Intuitionist (1999), both contemporary novels that suggest that social justice is, at best, a myth propagated for conservative political aims.

Additional Information:This publication is available online at https://www.salempress.com/press_titles.html?book=538
Keywords:Social Justice, Colson Whitehead, Chang-Rae Lee, American Literature, Postmodernism
Subjects:T Eastern, Asiatic, African, American and Australasian Languages, Literature and related subjects > T720 American Literature studies
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:33362
Deposited On:17 Oct 2018 10:43

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