Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Magic and Consumption at the End of History

Dr. Richard R. Guzman.

Scholars as diverse as Fukuyama ("The End of History") and M. Valdez Moses ("The Novel and Globalization") predict that the triumphs of liberal democracy will bring lives driven by consumption and devoid of heroism. Such scenarios are serious but too simple. Arjun Appadurai ("Modernity at Large") leads us to believe that consumption may now be the major way liberal democracies acculturate citizens. Further, books written in the magical realism style often portray the "Third World's" confrontation with First World materialism and consumption as nearly intolerably exciting--at least at first. Using ideas from writers already mentioned, plus readings of magical realist writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Arundhati Roy, I attempt to define the kind of magic and realism inherent in modern consumption practices and to use such magic/realism to suggest ways that acculturation through consumption can actually be less materialistic and damaging. I wrote the diversity plans for Illinois' fourth largest school district, and hope to continue my work with schools by turning these ideas into practical proposals for educating youth to consume more responsibly.


Dr. Richard R. Guzman  (United States)
English Master of Arts in Liberal Studies
North Central College

Professor and chair of English.
Director, Master of Arts in Liberal Studies. Recent president of Assoc. of Graduate Liberal Studies. Has published poetry, music, essays. Recent books on Chicago writing. Leader in diversity issues in schools, work, community.

  • Liberal democracy and "End of History"
  • Consumption Practices
  • The literature of magical realism
Person as Subject
  • Fukuyama, Francis Appadurai, Arjun Marquez, Gabriel Garcia

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)