Auschwitz and the Plantation: Labor and Social Death in American Holocaust and Slavery Fiction


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




American literary debates during the 1960s and 70s, especially the debates over William Styron’s profit-motivated Holocaust and slavery perpetrators, reflect the increasing urgency to understand why Nazis and slave owners did what they did. While many historians now view this period as the one in which neoliberalism—with its emphasis on the economic value of efficient markets as much as their moral value—became dominant in the US, the intensified desire to identify racism as the source of history’s greatest evils might be linked with a growing interest in rehabilitating greed. It is this nexus of relations between the emerging sense of the horror of genocide and the different but compatible sense of the value of markets that is at the center of this dissertation.