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Maximum Feasible ParticipationAmerican Literature and the War on Poverty$
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Stephen Schryer

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781503603677

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9781503603677.001.0001

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Who Belongs in the University?

Who Belongs in the University?

(p.151) 6 Who Belongs in the University?
Maximum Feasible Participation

Stephen Schryer

Stanford University Press

This chapter focuses on Philip Roth’s late 1990s novel, The Human Stain, arguing that the novel draws an analogy between the university and the Democratic Party. In early War on Poverty–era novels like Portnoy’s Complaint, Roth developed an antiprocess conception of art and welfare politics, one that conceived of works of art and public institutions as products that require audiences to appreciate them on their own terms. In The Human Stain, Roth extends this conception to the postmodern academy, using it to criticize multicultural education and affirmative action. Linking the university and New Deal liberal coalition, Roth insists that both are under assault by cultural and ideological outsiders. This analogy leads Roth to embrace a strategic conservatism, one that echoes the politics of Bill Clinton, whose impeachment trial recurs throughout The Human Stain.

Keywords:   Philip Roth, The Human Stain, American Pastoral, affirmative action, multiculturalism, Bill Clinton, Democratic Leadership Council, literary modernism

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