Nicole Merola’s “Cosmopolis: Don DeLillo’s Melancholy Political Ecology” appears in Volume 84 of American Literature (2012).
Abstract from American Literature:
This essay considers Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis (2003) as a literary act of witnessing that diagnoses the devastating socioecological footprint of globalized cybercapitalism. Employing Marxist and ecocritical accounts of materiality and environment as analytic categories, Merola offers a taxonomy of the novel’s three different socioecological spaces: touchless space, material cityspace, and interstitial space. Taking into account its specific geographical and temporal setting, New York City in April 2000, during an era DeLillo terms “the golden age of cybercapital,” Merola examines how the novel repeatedly stages episodes that highlight the particular aliena tions inherent to cybercapitalist labor and the particular metabolisms it demands of human and built materialities. Through its rescripting of Karl Marx’s concept of alienation for the contemporary moment, Merola argues, Cosmopolis functions as a work of cyber naturalism. The question of form and its relationship to refracting global environ men tal crisis is a matter of increasing concern in eco critical scholar ship, which must, Merola insists, consider the ways different formal strategies, genres, and media enable or foreclose how we theorize and encounter human and nonhuman worlds. To this end, she also probes how the novel’s formal composition—two intersecting narrative threads, one running forward in time and one backward—contributes to its ecosocial arguments. Ultimately, Merola contends, the novel’s form, content, and tone coalesce into a melancholy political ecology.