By the same authors

Contemporary Novelists and the Aesthetics of Twenty-First Century American Life

Research output: Book/ReportBook



Publication details

DateAccepted/In press - Jul 2019
DatePublished (current) - Jan 2020
Number of pages190
PublisherUniversity of Iowa Press
Original languageEnglish
ISBN (Electronic)9781609386764
ISBN (Print)9781609386757

Publication series

NameThe New American Canon: The Iowa Series in Contemporary Literature and Culture
PublisherUniversity of Iowa Press


Contemporary Novelists and the Aesthetics of Twenty-First Century American Life gives us a new way to view contemporary art novels, asking the key question: How do contemporary writers imagine aesthetic experience? Examining the works of some of the most popular names in contemporary fiction and art criticism, including Zadie Smith, Teju Cole, Siri Hustvedt, Ben Lerner, Rachel Kushner, and others, Alexandra Kingston-Reese finds that contemporary art novels are seeking to reconcile the negative feelings of contemporary life through a concerted critical realignment in understanding artistic sensibility, literary form, and the function of the aesthetic.

Kingston-Reese reveals how contemporary writers refract and problematize aesthetic experience, illuminating an uneasiness with failure: firstly, about the failure of aesthetic experiences to solve and save; and secondly, the literary inability to articulate the emotional dissonance caused by aesthetic experiences now.

    Research areas

  • Contemporary Literature, American culture, Aesthetics, Visual culture, Affect

Research outputs


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