Representation of consumer culture in contemporary literature: from Roland Barthes' Mythologies to Will Self's The Sweet Smell of Psychosis
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Consumer culture, although a mark of industrial economy, has turned into the norm of advancement in the contemporary global society. The structure of modern capitalism is based on the production and consumption of goods. From the 1980s, with the expansion of globalization, all modern and late modern society has embraced the practice of consumer culture. Just as the societies are heavily influenced by consumer culture, so is the world of arts. From the rise of popular culture, we see the influence of consumer cultures in traditional literature. This thesis deals with the themes of consumer cultures in postmodern literature. One of the prominent themes of postmodern texts depicts the perception of consumer culture, as it is the norm of western and non-western society. In literary world there are also attempts to represent this new world. I have taken three novels namely: The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon, White Noise by Don DeLillo and The Sweet Smell of Psychosis by Will Self. I also take one collection of short stories name: Mythologies by Roland Barthes to represent this consumer culture in the Western world from 1950s. Roland Barthes is perhaps the first literary critique who depicted the mythical power of consumer culture. He discussed the idea of present day mythology about advertisement of daily used French products in his book Mythologies (1959). The other writers have depicted consumer culture in much more detail way in their writings and in different social contexts: USA and UK. This thesis examines these literary works which demonstrate the fearful world of consumer culture and media domination.