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The Evil of Banality: Moby Dick vs. the Extreme Machine

Hamilton, Caroline Vanderveer (2004) The Evil of Banality: Moby Dick vs. the Extreme Machine. Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies, 4. 7 - 18. ISSN 0743-2747

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In this article I am suggesting that Feidelson’s approach be appropriated for the contemplation and understanding of extra-literary phenomena like the extreme machine. As Russell Reising points out, Feidelson’s “historical premise—that symbolism arose at a particular historical moment —could generate semiotic analyses of the relationships between cultural texts (literature, advertising, political discourses and so on) and social contexts, even though the texts themselves purport to transcend social determination” (180). One might extrapolate from this passage to ask the following questions: How do popular mass-produced objects and trends take on symbolic weight in American culture? What connections might we make between these commodities and American literary texts that represent historical events, debates, and individual psychology? And more specifically, if also more whimsically, is there a secret symbolic relationship between Melville’s Moby-Dick and the extreme machine?


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Item Type: Article
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Hamilton, Caroline Vanderveer
Date: May 2004
Date Type: Publication
Journal or Publication Title: Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies
Volume: 4
Publisher: University of Iowa
Page Range: 7 - 18
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > English
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 0743-2747
Official URL:
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Date Deposited: 03 May 2011 18:38
Last Modified: 20 Dec 2018 00:55


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