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Postmodernism in PiecesMaterializing the Social in U.S. Fiction$
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Matthew Mullins

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190459505

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190459505.001.0001

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Reconstructing Social Construction

Reconstructing Social Construction

(p.36) Chapter 1 Reconstructing Social Construction
Postmodernism in Pieces

Matthew Mullins

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the hotly contested divide within postmodernism between a so-called first stage of predominantly white, male experimental writers and a so-called second stage of predominantly nonwhite, nonmale writers concerned with politics of race, class, gender, and nation. The author argues that social construction has served as the continental divide separating writers into these two stages, based on its commitment to demonstrating that social categories are made, rather than essential. But what if constructed and essential are not incongruous? Postmodern fiction posits no such incongruity. As a case in point, this chapter turns to the particularly troublesome relationship between postmodernism and Native writing as a means of redefining social construction and contending that the tension between construction and essentialism can be resolved by examining the everyday things that organize the lives of characters in Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony.

Keywords:   social construction, fiction, Leslie Marmon Silko, postmodernism, Native writing

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