Jochen Achilles (University of Würzburg)

December 17, 2019
6–8 p.m., P 103 (Philosophicum I)

Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio and Donald Ray Pollock’s Knockemstiff are linked by common structural features as well as cultural concerns. Held side by side, both story cycles illustrate a regional history of downward mobility, as documented in Nancy Isenberg’s White Trash (2016) and J. D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy (2016). Phenomena unheard of in turn-of-the-century Winesburg, such as war trauma, dementia, drug addiction, and systemic violence dominate Knockemstiff. In complex ways both story cycles feed into current discussions of critical regionalism (Kenneth Frampton, Klaus Benesch, Klaus Lösch, Heike Paul) cultural mobility (Stephen Greenblatt), slow violence (Rob Nixon), and cruel optimism (Lauren Berlant).

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