Mallrats versus Mall Brats: Contemporary Consumer Culture and the “Nonplace” in Contemporary Italian and Irish Fiction

By Kristina Varade.

Published by The International Journal of Literary Humanities

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: March 13, 2014 $US5.00

Globalized consumer culture is a postmodern entity which can either stand on its own or relate in myriad ways to other, diverse aspects of contemporary fiction. While Modernist writers had incorporated brand names within their 20th century literary works, none of these references have been used with such frequency and in so many aspects of individual narratives as can now be noted in contemporary Irish and Italian 21st century novels. Globalization and consumer culture within current Irish and Italian fiction have developed so far as to become necessary to the ways in which current authors confront the reality of a post-millennial existence. While a literary emphasis upon consumerism existed long before the 21st century, it has never been expressed in such detail and with such tangible richness and clarity. Through their fragmented depictions of, and emphasis upon, a consumer- heavy and globalized world order which prizes speed, cost, quantity, status, accessibility, efficiency, and personal happiness through the accumulation of goods and services, Niccolò Ammaniti and Éilís Ní Dhuibhne demonstrate that a singular, linear narrative is often no longer relevant to the contemporary quotidian. Instead, they ‘postmodernize’ these characteristics of production and globalization through fragmented symbols and references within patchworks of often disordered narrative, as well as in the myriad ways that global brands and chains appear on the page. Nonplaces, which are intimately tied to both consumer culture and globalization, represent both everything and nothing at the same time. They often economically succeed in putting the societies in which they participate on the same proverbial global page, often obliterating social, cultural, and political distinctions at the same time. While the locations, characters, and situations change across space and time, the disjointed experiences associated with consumerism and globalization and as presented through the literature of contemporary Irish and Italian writers successfully provide the reader with a better understanding of a shared postmodern world order which lacks both comprehension and cohesion

Keywords: Globalization, National Literature, Postmodernism

The International Journal of Literary Humanities, Volume 11, Issue 2, March 2014, pp.49-59. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: March 13, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 431.318KB)).

Dr. Kristina Varade

Assistant Professor, Modern Languages, The Borough of Manhattan Community College, The City University of New York, New York, NY, USA

Dr. Kristina Varade is an Assistant Professor of Italian at The Borough of Manhattan Community College, which is affiliated with the City University of New York. Her interests focus on comparisons between Irish and Italian literature from all historical time periods. Her most recent research is centered on postmodern considerations in Irish and Italian fiction. In addition to her research, Dr. Varade has taught a wide range of literature and language courses which seek to bridge various genres and which aim to speak to diverse student backgrounds.