Epic Consciousness: A Possibility for Epic Expression in Post-War American Literature During the Age of Late Capitalism
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Epic Consciousness: A Possibility for Epic Expression in Post-War American Literature During the Age of Late Capitalism

Authors: Safwa Yargui

Abstract:

This research is about the quest for a post-war American epic poem in the age of late capitalism. This paper explores the possibility of an epic poem in the context of post-war late capitalist America, despite the prevailing scholarly scepticism regarding the existence of epic poetry after Milton’s Paradise Lost. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate the possibility of a post-war American epic through the argument of epic consciousness by distinguishing the scholarly views on the impossibility of an epic poem and the counterargument of epic consciousness which contends that American epic poetry is possible. Epic consciousness provides a significant nuance to the reading of the post-war American epic by focusing on the epic’s responsiveness to late capitalism, via various language forms; cultural manifestations; and conscious distortions of late capitalist media-related language; in addition to the epic’ conscious inclusion of the process of writing a post-war epic that requires a direct engagement with American-based materials. By focusing on interdisciplinary theoretical approaches, this paper includes both socio-cultural literary theories as well as literary and epic approaches developed by scholars that respectively contextualise the late capitalist situation and the question of post-war American epic poetry. In examining the role of consciousness, this paper aims to suggest a re-thinking of the post-war American epic that is capable of self-commitment, for the purpose of achieving a new sense of epic poetry in post-war late capitalist America.

Keywords: American epic, epic consciousness, late capitalism, post-war poetry.

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