Conspiracy Theories

Author: Mark Fenster
Publisher: U of Minnesota Press
ISBN: 0816632421
Format: PDF
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JFK, Karl Marx, the Pope, Aristotle Onassis, Queen Elizabeth II, Howard Hughes, Fox Mulder, Bill Clinton -- all have been linked to vastly complicated global (or even galactic) intrigues. In this enlightening tour of conspiracy theories, Mark Fenster guides readers through this shadowy world and analyzes its complex role in American culture and politics. Fenster argues that conspiracy theories are a form of popular political interpretation and contends that understanding how they circulate through mass culture helps us better understand our society as a whole. To that end, he discusses Richard Hofstadter's The Paranoid Style in American Politics, the militia movement, The X-Files, popular Christian apocalyptic thought, and such artifacts of suspicion as The Turner Diaries, the Illuminatus! trilogy, and the novels of Richard Condon. Fenster analyzes the "conspiracy community" of radio shows, magazine and book publishers, Internet resources, and role-playing games that promote these theories. In this world, the very denial of a conspiracy's existence becomes proof that it exists, and the truth is always "out there." He believes conspiracy theory has become a thrill for a bored subculture, one characterized by its members' reinterpretation of "accepted" history, their deep cynicism about contemporary politics, and their longing for a utopian future. Fenster's progressive critique of conspiracy theories both recognizes the secrecy and inequities of power in contemporary politics and economics and works toward effective political engagement. Probing conspiracy theory's tendencies toward scapegoating, racism, and fascism, as well as Hofstadter's centrist acceptance of a postwar American"consensus, " he advocates what conspiracy theory wants but cannot articulate: a more inclusive, engaging political culture.

Conspiracy Theories

Author: Mark Fenster
Publisher:
ISBN:
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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Mark Fenster's study of conspiracy theories is now updated for the post-9/11 era. Fenster argues that conspiracy theories play an important part in US democracy, and that examining how and why they circulate through mass culture helps us better understand society as a whole.

Empire of Conspiracy

Author: Timothy Melley
Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 9780801486067
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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Why, Timothy Melley asks, have paranoia and conspiracy theory become such prominent features of postwar American culture? In Empire of Conspiracy, Melley explores the recent growth of anxieties about thought-control, assassination, political indoctrination, stalking, surveillance, and corporate and government plots. At the heart of these developments, he believes, lies a widespread sense of crisis in the way Americans think about human autonomy and individuality. Nothing reveals this crisis more than the remarkably consistent form of expression that Melley calls "agency panic"—an intense fear that individuals can be shaped or controlled by powerful external forces. Drawing on a broad range of forms that manifest this fear—including fiction, film, television, sociology, political writing, self-help literature, and cultural theory—Melley provides a new understanding of the relation between postwar American literature, popular culture, and cultural theory.Empire of Conspiracy offers insightful new readings of texts ranging from Joseph Heller's Catch-22 to the Unabomber Manifesto, from Vance Packard's Hidden Persuaders to recent addiction discourse, and from the "stalker" novels of Margaret Atwood and Diane Johnson to the conspiracy fictions of Thomas Pynchon, William Burroughs, Don DeLillo, and Kathy Acker. Throughout, Melley finds recurrent anxieties about the power of large organizations to control human beings. These fears, he contends, indicate the continuing appeal of a form of individualism that is no longer wholly accurate or useful, but that still underpins a national fantasy of freedom from social control.

Conspiracy Culture

Author: Dr Peter Knight
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 1135117233
Format: PDF, Docs
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Conspiracy theories are everywhere in post-war American culture. From postmodern novels to The X-Files and from gangsta rap to feminist polemic, there is a widespread suspicion that sinister forces are conspiring to take control of our national destiny, our minds, and even our bodies. Conspiracy explanations can no longer be dismissed as the paranoid delusions of far-right crackpots. Indeed, they have become a necessary response to a risky and increasingly globalized world, in which everything is connected but nothing adds up. Peter Knight provides an engaging and cogent analysis of the development of conspiracy culture, from 1960s' countercultural suspicions about the authorities to the 1990s, where a paranoid attitude is both routine and ironic. Conspiracy Culture analyses conspiracy narratives about familiar topics like the Kennedy assassination, alien abduction, body horror, AIDS, crack cocaine, the New World Order, as well as more unusual ones like the conspiracies of patriarchy and white supremacy. Conspiracy Culture shows how Americans have come to distrust not only the narratives of the authorities, but even the authority of narrative itself to explain What Is Really Going On. From the complexities of Thomas Pynchon's novels to the endless mysteries of The X-Files, Knight argues that contemporary conspiracy culture is marked by an infinite regress of suspicion. Trust no one, because we have met the enemy and it is us.

A Culture of Conspiracy

Author: Michael Barkun
Publisher: Univ of California Press
ISBN: 0520956524
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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American society has changed dramatically since A Culture of Conspiracy was first published in 2001. In this revised and expanded edition, Michael Barkun delves deeper into America's conspiracy sub-culture, exploring the rise of 9/11 conspiracy theories, the "birther" controversy surrounding Barack Obama's American citizenship, and how the conspiracy landscape has changed with the rise of the Internet and other new media. What do UFO believers, Christian millennialists, and right-wing conspiracy theorists have in common? According to Michael Barkun in this fascinating yet disturbing book, quite a lot. It is well known that some Americans are obsessed with conspiracies. The Kennedy assassination, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the 2001 terrorist attacks have all generated elaborate stories of hidden plots. What is far less known is the extent to which conspiracist worldviews have recently become linked in strange and unpredictable ways with other "fringe" notions such as a belief in UFOs, Nostradamus, and the Illuminati. Unraveling the extraordinary genealogies and permutations of these increasingly widespread ideas, Barkun shows how this web of urban legends has spread among subcultures on the Internet and through mass media, how a new style of conspiracy thinking has recently arisen, and how this phenomenon relates to larger changes in American culture. This book, written by a leading expert on the subject, is the most comprehensive and authoritative examination of contemporary American conspiracism to date. Barkun discusses a range of material-involving inner-earth caves, government black helicopters, alien abductions, secret New World Order cabals, and much more-that few realize exists in our culture. Looking closely at the manifestations of these ideas in a wide range of literature and source material from religious and political literature, to New Age and UFO publications, to popular culture phenomena such as The X-Files, and to websites, radio programs, and more, Barkun finds that America is in the throes of an unrivaled period of millenarian activity. His book underscores the importance of understanding why this phenomenon is now spreading into more mainstream segments of American culture.

Conspiracy Nation

Author: Peter Knight
Publisher: NYU Press
ISBN: 0814747353
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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Why are Americans today so fascinated by the X-Files? How did rumors emerge about the origins of the AIDS virus as a weapon of biowarfare? Why does the Kennedy assassination provoke heated debate nearly forty years after the fact, and what do we make of Hillary Clinton's accusation of a "vast right-wing conspiracy" against her husband? The origins of these ideas reveal important facets of American culture and politics. Placing conspiracy thinking at the center of American history, and challenging the knee-jerk dismissal of conspiratorial thought as deluded and sometimes dangerous, Conspiracy Nation provides a wide-ranging survey of conspiracy theories in contemporary America. In the 19th century, inflammatory rhetoric about slave revolts, the well-publicized specter of the black rapist, and the formation of the Ku Klux Klan all worked as conspiracy theories to legitimate an emerging sense of national consciousness based on an ideology of white supremacy. Today, panicked responses to increasing multiculturalism and globalization yield new notions of victimhood and new theories about conspiratorial plans for global domination. Offering up a provocative array of examples, ranging from alien abduction to the novels of DeLillo and Pynchon to Tupac Shakur's "paranoid style," Conspiracy Nation documents and unearths the workings of conspiracy in the contemporary moment. Their conclusions, sometimes startling and always compelling, have much to say about the nature of identity and anxiety, imagination and politics, and the state of the American psyche today. Contributors: Clare Birchall, Jack Bratich, Bridget Brown, Jodi Dean, Ingrid Walker Fields, Douglas Kellner, Peter Knight, Fran Mason, John A. McClure, Timothy Melley, Eithne Quinn, and Skip Willman.

The Paranoid Style in American Politics

Author: Richard Hofstadter
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN: 0307809684
Format: PDF
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This timely reissue of Richard Hofstadter's classic work on the fringe groups that influence American electoral politics offers an invaluable perspective on contemporary domestic affairs.In The Paranoid Style in American Politics, acclaimed historian Richard Hofstadter examines the competing forces in American political discourse and how fringe groups can influence — and derail — the larger agendas of a political party. He investigates the politics of the irrational, shedding light on how the behavior of individuals can seem out of proportion with actual political issues, and how such behavior impacts larger groups. With such other classic essays as “Free Silver and the Mind of 'Coin' Harvey” and “What Happened to the Antitrust Movement?, ” The Paranoid Style in American Politics remains both a seminal text of political history and a vital analysis of the ways in which political groups function in the United States. From the Trade Paperback edition.

American Conspiracy Theories

Author: Joseph E. Uscinski
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0199351805
Format: PDF, ePub
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Conspiracies theories are some of the most striking features in the American political landscape: the Kennedy assassination, aliens at Roswell, subversion by Masons, Jews, Catholics, or communists, and modern movements like Birtherism and Trutherism. But what do we really know about conspiracy theories? Do they share general causes? Are they becoming more common? More dangerous? Who is targeted and why? Who are the conspiracy theorists? How has technology affected conspiracy theorising? This book offers the first century-long view of these issues.

Knowledge Goes Pop

Author: Clare Birchall
Publisher: Berg
ISBN: 1845201434
Format: PDF, Kindle
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A voice on late night radio tells you that a fast food restaurant injects its food with drugs that make men impotent. A colleague asks if you think the FBI was in on 9/11. An alien abductee on the Internet claims extra-terrestrials have planted a microchip in her body. "Julia Roberts in Porn Scandal" shouts the front page of a gossip mag. A spiritual healer claims he can cure chronic fatigue syndrome with the energizing power of crystals . . . What do you believe? Knowledge Goes Pop examines the popular knowledges that saturate our everyday experience. We make this information and then it shapes the way we see the world. How valid is it when compared to official knowledge and why does such (mis)information cause so much institutional anxiety? This book examines the range of knowledge, from conspiracy theory to plain gossip, and its role and impact in our culture.