Chapter

Life, Literature, and Sociology in Turn-of-the-Century Chicago

Eugene Halton

in The Great Brain Suck

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780226314655
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226314679 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226314679.003.0005
Life, Literature, and Sociology in Turn-of-the-Century Chicago

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Turn-of-the-century Chicago can be viewed as a dream of money, a dream shared by rich and poor alike, a dream that set out, for better or worse, to reshape the world. What we now consider as Chicago literature and sociology both share a fascination with the profound social upheaval and energies created by the explosion of industrial capital. Both sought to document the life of the city, which was no small task in the chaos that was Chicago. Chicago reveals American materialism in the making, in which the city produced a critique of the rampant consumption of the Gilded Age that is the legacy of that materialism. One question is whether Chicago literature and sociology remain forms of critique or whether they go further to create new insights or perspectives not reducible to their immediate milieu, although, perhaps, growing out of it. In other words, did Chicago literature and sociology provide a genuine and durable alternative to the consumptive materialism of Chicago?

Keywords: Chicago; literature; sociology; materialism; industrial capital; consumption

Chapter.  10876 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Sociology

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