• Leveling the Playing Field: Cultural Relativism and Inequality

    Author(s):
    Ádám Tamás Bogár (see profile)
    Date:
    2018
    Subject(s):
    20th-century American literature, 20th-century American novel, Anthropological approaches to literature, Social inequality, Science fiction, Inequality
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    Tag(s):
    Kurt Vonnegut, Cultural relativism, Speculative anthropology
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/zy5r-3688
    Abstract:
    In this chapter, Adam T. Bogar explores class inequality in the literary work of Kurt Vonnegut through the lens of a particular theory from the discipline of anthropology, a discipline in which Vonnegut was very interested. Beginning with an analysis of how American writer Vonnegut developed an interest in anthropology and political thought, Bogar analyzes Vonnegut’s 1959 novel The Sirens of Titan and his 1961 short story “Harrison Bergeron” as well as a selection of his non-fiction. Noting that Vonnegut’s fiction portrayed the hardships suffered by the poorest members of society empathetically, Bogar suggests that Vonnegut’s interest in anthropology led him to a rejection of the idea that we should create egalitarian societies through cultural relativism, an idea influencing anthropologists during Vonnegut’s college years. Cultural relativism suggested to Vonnegut an artificial and destructive leveling of difference.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Book chapter    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    5 months ago
    License:
    Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
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