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Fantasies of the New ClassIdeologies of Professionalism in Post-World War II American Fiction$
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Stephen Schryer

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780231157575

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231157575.001.0001

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Don DeLillo’s Academia

Don DeLillo’s Academia

Revisiting the New Class in White Noise

(p.167) 6 Don DeLillo’s Academia
Fantasies of the New Class

Stephen Schryer

Columbia University Press

This chapter discusses Don DeLillo's novel, White Noise, focusing on the protagonist's remark that in contemporary America “there is a teacher for every person. Everyone I know is either a teacher or a student.” Such a statement resonates with the notion that, in Alvin Gouldner's terms, the professional-managerial class has become the “universal class” of late-twentieth-century America. However, this universal diffusion of professional expertise is not an especially welcome development in the text. Instead, it offers a critical assessment of the simultaneous triumph and failure of new-class fantasy—the notion that the rapid increase in the number of Americans educated at the postsecondary level offered artists and intellectuals new opportunities for disseminating aesthetic attitudes and creating an enriched public sphere.

Keywords:   Don DeLillo, White Noise, Alvin Gouldner, universal class, professional expertise, new-class fantasy

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