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Chapter 17 - Chicago Ecology and James T. Farrell’s Studs Lonigan

from Part IV - A City of Neighborhoods: The Great Depression, Sociology, and the Black Chicago Renaissance

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 September 2021

Frederik Byrn Køhlert
Affiliation:
University of East Anglia
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Summary

When James T. Farrell’s Studs Lonigan trilogy is read today, it is typically read within limits. It serves as an example of proletarian, sociological, or naturalist fiction. In this view, it is emblematic of the post-Chicago Renaissance dark age of creativity, it demonstrates the influence of the University of Chicago’s sociology department’s focus on neighborhoods and juvenile delinquency, or it is an example of ethnic literature. With this chapter, I take the Chicago sociologists’s focus on “ecology” and broaden it to include human relationships with their non-human surroundings. Doing so demonstrates the wide potential of readings for Studs Lonigan, wherein the preceding circumscriptions give way to new forms of collaboration, contamination, and association more in line with ecological thinking of our own time. It is precisely Studs’s ability to take advantage of Chicago’s own ecological planning, with its large network of parks, that present these moments of what Donna Haraway calls “making kin.” It is up to us new readers, then, to understand why the potential remains unused.

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Chicago
A Literary History
, pp. 239 - 252
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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