This special issue discusses literary representations as much as it explores changes in society at large. Much has been written about the relevance of societal transformations and their impact on the way we feel and think. Thomas S. Kuhn has famously argued that scientific communities undergo paradigm shifts during periods of crisis, leading to radical changes in accepted scientific theories and methodologies. Far from being cumulative, scientific progress has often proven to be erratic and extreme, characterized by paradigm shifts that have radically changed societal norms and conventions (Kuhn 84-91). Samuel P. Huntington adds that global transformations, such as the democratization waves of the late twentieth century, were strongly influenced by overarching geopolitical factors that permeated social discourses (124-42). When it comes to social change, the local and communal are often subtly intertwined with overarching developments. The decline of social capital in American communities, Robert D. Putnam has shown in Bowling Alone, is linked to various factors, including changes in work patterns, technology, and lifestyle (18-26). In Naomi Klein’s reading, economic and political elites often exploit disasters and crises to implement neoliberal economic policies. She argues that moments of shock are seized to advance what she calls a “shock doctrine,” pushing through free-market reforms that might face resistance during more stable times and creating “a radical neoliberal transformation” (151; see also 142-54). The digital revolution of the past decades has reminded us how fragile existing conventions and structures in western industrial societies have become in the face of fundamental technological transformation. This transformation pervades every facet of society and changes even our ways of thinking. In The Fourth Industrial Revolution, Klaus Schwab showcases the transformative impact of emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence and biotechnology, on society, economy, and governance (1-24). He emphasizes the need for a proactive and collaborative approach to harness the benefits of these technologies while addressing the associated challenges.

Full Issue

Introduction: Societal Transformations and American Literatures in the World

Stefan L. Brandt, Frank Mehring, Tatiani G. Rapatzikou

4-15 |

The Ritual of Shame

Wenwen Guo

16-40 |

Politics and Society in Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon

Jacob Zumoff

41-59 |

More than Lost Cargo

Martin Praga

60-79 |

The Price of Virtual Utopia

Philip Steiner

80-98 |