Lew, Seung (2009-05). Going Paranoid from the Cold War to the Post-Cold War: Conspiracy Fiction of DeLillo, Didion, and Silko. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon

abstract

  • This dissertation proposes to examine the conspiracy narratives of Don DeLillo, Joan Didion, and Leslie Marmon Silko that retell American experience with the Cold War and its culture of paranoia for the last half of the twentieth century. Witnessing the resurgence of Cold War paranoia and its dramatic twilight during the period from late 70s to mid-80s and the sudden advent of the post-Cold War era that has provoked a volatile mixture of euphoria and melancholia, the work of DeLillo, Didion, and Silko explores the changing mode of Cold War paranoid epistemology and contemplates its conditions of narrative possibility in the post-Cold War era. From his earlier novels such as Players, The Names, and Mao II to his latest novel about 9/11 Falling Man, DeLillo has interrogated how the American paradigm of paranoid national self-fashioning envisioned by Cold War liberals stands up to its equally paranoid post-Cold War nemesis, terrorism. In his epic dramatization of Cold War history in Underworld, DeLillo mythologizes the doomed sense of paranoid connectivity and collective belonging experienced during the Cold War era. In doing so, DeLillo attempts to contain the uncertainty and instability of the post-Cold War or what Francis Fukuyama calls "post-historical" landscape of global cognitive mapping within the nostalgically secured memory of the American crowd who had lived the paranoid history of the Cold War. In her novels that investigate the history of American involvements in the Third World from Eisenhower through Kennedy to Reagan, Didion employs the minimalist narrative style to curb, extenuate, or condense the paranoid narratives of Cold War imperial romance most recently exemplified in the Iran-Contra conspiracy. In her latest Cold War romance novel The Last Thing He Wanted, Didion reassesses her earlier narrative tactic of "calculated ellipsis" employed in A Book of Common Prayer and Democracy and seeks to commemorate individual romances behind the spectacles of Cold War myth of frontier. Departing from the rhetoric of "hybrid patriotism" in Ceremony, a Native American story of spiritual healing and lyricism that works to appease white paranoia and guilt associated with the atomic bomb, Silko in Almanac of the Dead seeks to subvert the paranoid regime of Cold War imperialism inflicted upon Native Americans and Third World subjects by mobilizing alternative conspiracy narratives from the storytelling tradition of Native American spirituality. Silko?s postnational spiritual conspiracy gestures toward a global cognitive mapping beyond the American Cold War paradigm of "paranoid oneworldedness".
  • This dissertation proposes to examine the conspiracy narratives of Don DeLillo,
    Joan Didion, and Leslie Marmon Silko that retell American experience with the Cold
    War and its culture of paranoia for the last half of the twentieth century. Witnessing the
    resurgence of Cold War paranoia and its dramatic twilight during the period from late
    70s to mid-80s and the sudden advent of the post-Cold War era that has provoked a
    volatile mixture of euphoria and melancholia, the work of DeLillo, Didion, and Silko
    explores the changing mode of Cold War paranoid epistemology and contemplates its
    conditions of narrative possibility in the post-Cold War era.
    From his earlier novels such as Players, The Names, and Mao II to his latest
    novel about 9/11 Falling Man, DeLillo has interrogated how the American paradigm of
    paranoid national self-fashioning envisioned by Cold War liberals stands up to its
    equally paranoid post-Cold War nemesis, terrorism. In his epic dramatization of Cold
    War history in Underworld, DeLillo mythologizes the doomed sense of paranoid connectivity and collective belonging experienced during the Cold War era. In doing so,
    DeLillo attempts to contain the uncertainty and instability of the post-Cold War or what
    Francis Fukuyama calls "post-historical" landscape of global cognitive mapping within
    the nostalgically secured memory of the American crowd who had lived the paranoid
    history of the Cold War. In her novels that investigate the history of American
    involvements in the Third World from Eisenhower through Kennedy to Reagan, Didion
    employs the minimalist narrative style to curb, extenuate, or condense the paranoid
    narratives of Cold War imperial romance most recently exemplified in the Iran-Contra
    conspiracy. In her latest Cold War romance novel The Last Thing He Wanted, Didion
    reassesses her earlier narrative tactic of "calculated ellipsis" employed in A Book of
    Common Prayer and Democracy and seeks to commemorate individual romances behind
    the spectacles of Cold War myth of frontier. Departing from the rhetoric of "hybrid
    patriotism" in Ceremony, a Native American story of spiritual healing and lyricism that
    works to appease white paranoia and guilt associated with the atomic bomb, Silko in
    Almanac of the Dead seeks to subvert the paranoid regime of Cold War imperialism
    inflicted upon Native Americans and Third World subjects by mobilizing alternative
    conspiracy narratives from the storytelling tradition of Native American spirituality.
    Silko?s postnational spiritual conspiracy gestures toward a global cognitive mapping
    beyond the American Cold War paradigm of "paranoid oneworldedness".

publication date

  • May 2009