The relationship between happiness and capitalism in the fiction of Don DeLillo

Allerton-Hilton, L., 2020. The relationship between happiness and capitalism in the fiction of Don DeLillo. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

Luke Allerton-Hilton - 2021.pdf - Published version

Download (1MB) | Preview


This thesis seeks to understand more about the intersections between emotion and capitalism, to uncover how capitalism functions through emotional means. It does this in two ways: through analysis of the work of Don DeLillo during the period associated with neoliberal capitalism, and through exploration of cultural theory and philosophy that touches upon capitalism, emotion, or both. Using DeLillo's fictions as contextual artefacts that depict the experience of a particular time and place, the thesis explores the emotional lives of his characters in combination with cultural theory, to develop a novel mode of reading that reveals emotions to be the language of neoliberalism.

The project is split into three parts, with the first providing an overview of the functional nature of emotions within neoliberal capitalism, building on the work of Mark Fisher and Gilles Deleuze in particular. It asks how emotions functionally enable the reproduction of neoliberalism. The second part looks more closely at the emotional and affective structures that underpin neoliberalism, asking how we can understand affective infrastructure to work, and how facets of capitalism such as crisis impact on the emotional experience of individuals. The final part explores both the global spread of neoliberalism, as well as its potential future. It asks what the impact of globalisation is on emotions, and whether emotions can be part of resistance movements against capitalism.

The three parts rely on theoretical works to outline the fundamentals of the various approaches, but it is through the analysis of DeLillo's fiction that the nuances of these intersections between emotion and capitalism emerge. His works enable us to see where capitalism makes happiness a tool of manipulation, where it is an indicator of success and performance, and where it is something promised but never delivered. His work reveals the fleeting nature of happiness in contemporary America and how it is more common to find an interlocking mixture of fear and hope at the heart of the neoliberal emotional landscape.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Allerton-Hilton, L.
Date: December 2020
Rights: This work is the intellectual property of the author. You may copy up to 5% of this work for private study, or personal, non-commercial research. Any re-use of the information contained within this document should be fully referenced, quoting the author, title, university, degree level and pagination. Queries or requests for any other use, or if a more substantial copy is required, should be directed in the owner(s) of the Intellectual Property Rights.
Divisions: Schools > School of Arts and Humanities
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 30 Apr 2021 07:20
Last Modified: 31 May 2021 15:03

Actions (login required)

Edit View Edit View


Views per month over past year


Downloads per month over past year