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The Victorian Geopolitical AestheticRealism, Sovereignty, and Transnational Experience$
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Lauren M. E. Goodlad

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198728276

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198728276.001.0001

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The Mad Men in the Attic

The Mad Men in the Attic

Seriality and Identity in the Modern Babylon

Chapter:
(p.242) 8 The Mad Men in the Attic
Source:
The Victorian Geopolitical Aesthetic
Author(s):

Lauren M. E. Goodlad

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198728276.003.0008

This chapter describes the recurrence of a mid-Victorian form at the turn of the twenty-first century. Connecting the television series Mad Men to Trollope’s The Prime Minister and Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, the chapter argues that each is a serialized naturalistic narrative of capitalist globalization in which an exilic subject assimilates the impacts of globalizing capital. Serialization synchronizes naturalist representation through a slow temporality that enables audiences and characters to share deferred longing for social transformation. Although Mad Men’s objective situation is millennial neoliberalism, the show’s reinvention of Judaized otherness is rooted in the centuries-long durée of capitalist and imperial unfolding. Don Draper is a virtual Jew in whom the minority subject’s aberrant particularity and the majority subject’s universalistic status collide. Like Emma Bovary, Don is a “madwoman in the attic”: a protagonist for whom aestheticism and adultery become the sole consolations for the experience of singing for one’s captors.

Keywords:   Mad Men, seriality, globalization, geopolitical aesthetic, naturalism, virtual Jew, Madame Bovary, neoliberalism, serial television

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