My dissertation has the working title: "How Times Have Changed for the White Working Class: Temporal Depictions in American Culture."
The project argues that the 1980s work of American authors Raymond Carver and Bobbie Ann Mason presents an a-temporal aesthetic, prophesizing how capitalism's demand for progress now permeates working-class lives and modes of expression. In particular, Carver and Mason's vision connects to the demoralization of the white working class.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton referred to this group as a “basket of deplorables” condemning their support of racist, sexist, and homophobic ideologies. But why are white workers so angry? One answer lies in capitalism's distortion of time. Displacing familiar modes of identity, what Zygmunt Bauman calls “liquid modernity’” extends subjects into a never-ending continuum of temporary, fragmented, and brief intervals of work (2000, 2). This results in a timeless void distorting any sense of direction for the subjects confined within it.
The project considers recent features in American cinema to illustrate how Carver and Mason's prophetic depiction of working-class time is fully realized in present-day media. Identifying the ways temporality is expressed through the representations of subjects, objects, and dwellings of these works, it formulates an interpretative strategy for working-class culture.