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Freaks In Late Modernist American Culture: Nathanael West, Djuna Barnes, Tod Browning, And Carson Mccullers (2005) by Nancy
Freaks in Late Modernist American Culture
explores the emergence of what Nancy Bombaci terms "late modernist
freakish aesthetics"-a creative fusion of "high" and "low" themes and
forms in relation to distorted bodies. Literary and cinematic texts about
Nathanael West, and
and subvert and reinvent modern progress narratives in order to
challenge high modernist literary and social ideologies. These works are
marked by an acceptance of the disteleology, anarchy, and degeneration
that racist discourses of the late nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries associated with racial and ethnic outsiders, particularly Jews.
In a period of American culture beset with increasing pressures for social
and political conformity and with the threat of fascism from Europe, these
late modernist narratives about "freaks" defy oppressive norms and
values as they search for an anarchic and transformational creativity.