‘Corporeal Battlegrounds’ explores the depiction and critical potential of the entanglement of work and embodiment in contemporary realist U.S.-American novels. It argues that manifesting the elusive effects of contemporary capitalism in the figure of the laboring body allows for a critique of capitalism. The laboring body thus provides a gateway to understanding how power relations are perpetuated by the work we engage in and to revealing the inherent logic of capitalism.

To provide a comprehensive view, each larger section examines one aspect of contemporary capitalism in conversation with a novel: social acceleration, digitalization, financialization, and 24/7 capitalism. These sections question how the novels approach the representability of economic relations and how the depiction of the laboring body functions to open up an area of tension to criticize the link between the laboring body, economic participation, and the perception of failure and success.