Author as ethnographer: The merging of genres in Raymond Carver's and Thomas Pynchon's texts
|Snyder, Megan Dawn
|Dissertation (Ph.D.) University of Alaska Fairbanks, 1999
|Several of Raymond Carver's short stories and two of Thomas Pynchon's novels are analyzed for their ability to function as ethnography, through which they reveal the dominant and dominated codes in American culture. These texts were approached from an interdisciplinary stance, using theories and concepts from literary criticism, cultural anthropology, and sociology in order to interpret them with a greater degree of accuracy; because the text is treated as an ethnographic representation of a culture, it is possible to turn to it as the sole illustration of cultural elements and, in doing so, to be more open to addressing themes that the text explicates, rather than approaching the it with a preconceived agenda of what necessarily constructs American culture. By focusing in this manner on Carver's and Pynchon's texts as accounts of what is to be "American," it is possible to remain closer to what the texts portray and to avoid misreadings as well as misinterpretations of culture. Through these authors' representations of characters who defy mainstream cultural codes, the reader encounters in these authors' works what mainstream America finds most unsettling: characters who are not only alienated, but also aware of their status as outsiders and, more frequently than not, choose to embrace deviance in their self-definitions. Carver and Pynchon, when taken together, afford the reader with a vision of our culture that explores the dissociation and alienation that cuts through our society regardless of class or background. In their varying presentations of reality, they offer complementary views of distinct American subcultures that feature characters who are isolated and who generally denounce mainstream ideals. Conformist society is merely hinted at within the texts; its presence appears through its absence, characters' recognition of what they are denying, and what characters are denied. Both authors feature characters who identify aberrant behavior, for which rule-breaking individuals are labeled. Characters, once labeled, adopt secondary deviance and instigate a deviant career, from which the authors rarely permit a reprieve. The effect of labeling is the creation of a schism in the social fabric of American culture, which is characterized by the societal exclusion of individuals who do not uphold the dominant beliefs. American culture is also characterized by assimilation; as characters in Carvers and Pynchon's texts resist this process, they pose a threat to the social order, which is the prime factor in their labeling.
|Author as ethnographer: The merging of genres in Raymond Carver's and Thomas Pynchon's texts
|Bird, Roy K.