• Alone at Home: Alienation in Ragtime

      Quinton, Rachel; Department of English & Foreign Languages (2017-03)
      This analysis looks at E.L. Doctorow's novel, Ragtime. Throughout the work, Doctorow hints at the blurring of belonging in reality in Pre-World War I America, resulting in alienation. Using a Marxist and Postmodernism lens, this essay focuses on alienation that functions on two levels - the dissociation of the individual from social belonging and through a coercive superstructure of media that separates characters from historical reality. The characters in Ragtime, both in the central family and outside, can identify with at least one level of alienation. By observing the characters through these lenses, it becomes apparent how they are shaped by their alienation. In this context the characters within the novel Ragtime serve as an example of alienation manifested through a dissociation from reality and organized by a coercive media beholden to a capital economic pressure. This observation highlights the value of identity and how the media can affect the way others look at "the reality" behind such identities. It also considers the extent of how media integrates itself into daily life and how this influence is controlled by the base of all society: the economy. Doctorow's book suggests there is a separation of truth from media, and reality from identity.
    • Postmodernism & the Sexual Awakening of E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime

      Rosier, Melanie (2017-03-06)
      This analysis utilizes both a Postmodernist and Feminist approach to E.L. Doctorow's novel Ragtime in order to provide a social commentary on the hardships of women and minorities in Pre-WWI America. Historically, the patriarchal system has contributed to the sociopolitical oppression of women on an international level. The sexual repression of women, in particular, has lead to a system of hierarchy that has been permanently instilled in society. However, with the turn of the nineteenth century, the dissolution of familial roles for women began taking place. In this analysis, Doctorow's narration of the lives of five different female characters is defined as an illumination of the socioeconomic hardships of women in the height of immigration and labor exploitation within the United States. This historiographical commentary continues by recognizing the inability to acquire liberation from oppression for minority women.