Marginalisation and Utopia in Paul Auster, Jim Jarmusch and Tom Waits The Other America
This book explores how three contemporary American artists through the mediums of film, literature and popular music have contributed to the tradition of American progressivism, and provides an invaluable companion to the understanding of complex issues such as inequality and social and economic decline that are apparent in America today.
Connecting the works of these artists through a fictional country – the ‘Other America’ – the book shows how they have refuted middle-class values and goals of success, money and social affirmation to unveil the less celebrated, dark side of contemporary America, which, despite the troubles currently faced, never loses hope for a better future. This utopic vision in the face of adversity is explored through the plots, characters and mis-en-scène of Auster and Jarmusch’s work and Waits’s lyrics and sound. This vision challenges the dominant narratives of America as the land of opportunity and values democracy, civic engagement, communitarianism and egalitarianism.
Offering an important new perspective to literature on contemporary American culture, this book will be of interest to students and scholars of American studies, film studies, popular music, postmodern literature, cultural studies and sociology.
Part I: The Other America 1. The Democratic Dream. A traditional social critique in America 2. American Fringe: The works of Paul Auster, Jim Jarmusch and Tom Waits Part II: The American Dream 3. Road to nothing: The road book, the road movie, the road song and the use of American myths in Auster, Jarmusch and Waits 9. Surviving in the Other America: Hope and the comfort of humanity Part III: The Democratic Hero 5. The needs of the body: Depictions of street life, wasteland, and downward mobility amid the culture of wealth 6. The needs of the soul: Failure and adoption of simplicity amid the culture of success Part IV: The Enemy of Conventional Society 7. The neoliberal age: Facing crisis and decline from Ronald to Donald 8. Art as resistance: A utopian alternative in the age of consumerism, greed, and selfishness