“Everyday things represent the most overlooked forms of knowledge,” claims Father Paulus, the Jesuit priest in Don DeLillo’s novel Underworld (1997). What tends to go overlooked in DeLillo’s work, this article proposes, is the socio-ecological violence of the capitalist world-system that undergirds this “everyday.” Turning to DeLillo’s depiction of the Cold War kitchen in Underworld (1997) and consumerist detritus in White Noise (1985), this article reveals how the novels foreground the exploited labor and land required to sustain accumulation and the toxic consequences of the US cycle. To do so, it brings into dialogue critiques of everyday life; the Warwick Research Collective’s definition of “world-literature” as “the literary registration of . . . combined and uneven development”; Jason W. Moore’s world-ecological analysis with Marx’s theory of value; and Silvia Federici, Maria Mies, and Nancy Fraser’s Marxist-feminist analyses of domestic labor.
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Research Article| June 01 2021
Toxic Waste and Unpaid Labor: Don DeLillo’s Everyday
Twentieth-Century Literature (2021) 67 (2): 109–138.
Stephanie Lambert; Toxic Waste and Unpaid Labor: Don DeLillo’s Everyday. Twentieth-Century Literature 1 June 2021; 67 (2): 109–138. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0041462X-9084302
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