Instability and the Modern Family: Family Systems Theory and the Contemporary Novel

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Jenna Marquardt/ University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
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This paper explores the possibilites of family systems theory as literary criticism. By analyzing contemporary novels representing diverse perspectives, I found that the modern family is not stable enough to handle societal pressures which commonly results is symptoms like mental illness, drug use, and absent parental figures. By looking at the family systems presented in Christina Garcia's Dreaming in Cuban, Junot Diaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Woa, Daniel Woodrell's Winter's Bone, and Louise Erdrich's The Round House, healthier models emerged and opening doors for further exploration.