The Cultural Imaginary of Terrorism in Public Discourse, Literature, and Film: Narrating Terror, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Cultural Imaginary of Terrorism in Public Discourse, Literature, and Film

Narrating Terror, 1st Edition

By Michael C. Frank

Routledge

294 pages

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pub: 2017-06-08
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Description

This study investigates the overlaps between political discourse and literary and cinematic fiction, arguing that both are informed by, and contribute to, the cultural imaginary of terrorism. Whenever mass-mediated acts of terrorism occur, they tend to trigger a proliferation of threat scenarios not only in the realm of literature and film but also in the statements of policymakers, security experts, and journalists. In the process, the discursive boundary between the factual and the speculative can become difficult to discern. To elucidate this phenomenon, this book proposes that terror is a halfway house between the real and the imaginary. For what characterizes terrorism is less the single act of violence than it is the fact that this act is perceived to be the beginning, or part, of a potential series, and that further acts are expected to occur. As turn-of-the-century writers such as Stevenson and Conrad were the first to point out, this gives terror a fantastical dimension, a fact reinforced by the clandestine nature of both terrorist and counter-terrorist operations. Supported by contextual readings of selected texts and films from The Dynamiter and The Secret Agent through late-Victorian science fiction to post-9/11 novels and cinema, this study explores the complex interplay between actual incidents of political violence, the surrounding discourse, and fictional engagement with the issue to show how terrorism becomes an object of fantasy. Drawing on research from a variety of disciplines, The Cultural Imaginary of Terrorism will be a valuable resource for those with interests in the areas of Literature and Film, Terrorism Studies, Peace and Conflict Studies, Trauma Studies, and Cultural Studies.

Table of Contents

CONTENTS

Acknowledgments

List of Figures

Introduction: The Cultural Imaginary of Terrorism

I. "Terrorism" and "Terror": Historical and Conceptual Frameworks

II. Imagining Clandestine Operations: Early Literary Responses to Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism

III. Imagining Future Attacks: Turn-of-the-Century Tales of Terrorist Invasion

IV. "Terrorist Aliens": 9/11 and/as Science Fiction

V. It Could Happen Here: Narrating Terror after 9/11

Conclusion

References

About the Author

Michael C. Frank is temporary Professor of Anglophone Literatures at the University of Düsseldorf, Germany.

About the Series

Routledge Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Literature

This series is our home for cutting-edge, upper-level scholarly studies and edited collections. Taking an interdisciplinary approach to literary studies, it engages with topics such as philosophy, science, race, gender, film, music, and ecology. Titles are characterized by dynamic interventions into established subjects and innovative studies on emerging topics.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LIT000000
LITERARY CRITICISM / General
LIT004020
LITERARY CRITICISM / American / General
LIT004120
LITERARY CRITICISM / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh
LIT025030
LITERARY CRITICISM / Subjects & Themes / Politics
POL037000
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / Terrorism