The Post-Utopian Imagination: American Culture in the Long 1950s

By M. Keith Booker | Go to book overview

Chapter 3
Monsters, Cowboys, and Criminals:
Jim Thompson and the Dark Turn in
American Popular Culture in the
Long 1950s

Some of the weakness of the leftist realist fiction of the 1950s can be attributed to the fact, noted by Alan Wald in much of his work, that leftist writers were driven into popular genres in the decade to escape censorship and political persecution. But, again, the numerous works in popular genres from the long 1950s that have clearly leftist orientations tend to be weak in their treatment of class and, correspondingly, in their suggestion of Utopian alternatives to capitalism. The same can be said for the more mainstream popular fiction of the long 1950s as well, even though such fiction, almost by definition, contains strong elements of fantasy and romance that have considerable Utopian potential. Drawing upon Max Weber's account of the routinization of life under capitalism, Fredric Jameson has suggested, in a variety of places, that the persistence of forms of romance in Western culture even into the twentieth century arises from a utopian longing for the absent magic that no longer exists in the modern world. In particular, Jameson argues that romance can offer Utopian alternatives in a postmodern world in which realism, once itself potent as a social and political force has itself become reified, losing its Utopian energy. In this case, for Jameson, romance re-emerges to “offer the possibility of sensing other historical rhythms, and of demonic or Utopian transformations of a real now unshakably set in place” (Political 104).

From this point of view, it perhaps comes as no surprise that the long 1950s saw a veritable explosion in the production and consumption of popular literature, though the emphasis in this literature was definitely more on demonic than Utopian transformations of reality. During this period, realism was on the decline in terms of both production and critical assessment. Meanwhile, the critical establishment of the period turned its back on realism in favor of modernism, but modernism was of little uto

-101-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Post-Utopian Imagination: American Culture in the Long 1950s
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 228

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.