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Revisiting Style in Literary and Cultural Studies

Interdisciplinary Articulations

Edited By Jasmin Herrmann, Moritz Ingwersen, Björn Sonnenberg-Schrank and Olga Ludmila Tarapata

The collected volume brings together leading scholars from a broad range of disciplines in the humanities to interrogate the productivity of style as an element of cultural expression and a parameter of cultural analysis. Despite its ubiquity in examinations of artistic singularity or postulations of epochal patterns, style remains a notoriously elusive concept. Suspicious of monolithic definitions, the contributions assembled in this volume address style from a multiplicity of methodological and conceptual angles, drawing from fields that include literary studies, film and media studies, post-structuralist philosophy, philosophy of science, and American cultural studies.

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26 Pynchon’s Wardrobe of Weirdness: The Style of Subversive Garments

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Abstract: While numerous works have been written on Thomas Pynchon’s style in terms of language and genre, there is none that addresses style in the sense of ‘fashion,’ and this is the gap this essay seeks to fill. In Pynchon’s novels, clothes are usually not part of characterization, yet when they are mentioned, they are often used to signify an association with a particular counterculture, and there is even the notion of the “subversive garment” in Pynchon that forces both the beholder and the wearer to fundamentally question reality itself. I thus argue that clothing in Pynchon’s novels in particularly significant instances subverts the ‘reality effect’ that is produced by references to clothing especially in realist or modernist fiction, while at the same time retaining its (now dubious) function of characterization.

Keywords: Pynchon, Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow, V., The Crying of Lot 49, Mason & Dixon, Against the Day, fashion in literature, clothing in literature, reality effect, postmodernism

One day during International Pynchon Week 2008 in Munich, most participants moved from the conference venue at the Amerikahaus to a seminar room at LMU to watch the European Cup match between Croatia and Germany. As we were on our way, the Pynchonite next to me—who I admire as the person whose diligent work over the course of many years proves best that the Pyndustry thrives not just in academia—turned to me and whispered in a conspiratorial tone as he pointed at Hanjo...

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