American Magic and Dread: Don DeLillo's Dialogue with Culture

Overview

American Magic and Dread
Don DeLillo's Dialogue with Culture
Mark Osteen

"Osteen's wide-ranging knowledge of media history and theory and ability to draw upon a variety of theoretical approaches with great clarity convincingly links DeLillo to the major intellectual currents of our times. This is just the sort of book to generate a livelier discussion of DeLillo's place in the postmodern canon."--David Cowart, University of South Carolina

"A ...

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Overview

American Magic and Dread
Don DeLillo's Dialogue with Culture
Mark Osteen

"Osteen's wide-ranging knowledge of media history and theory and ability to draw upon a variety of theoretical approaches with great clarity convincingly links DeLillo to the major intellectual currents of our times. This is just the sort of book to generate a livelier discussion of DeLillo's place in the postmodern canon."--David Cowart, University of South Carolina

"A strongly argued analysis and close reading of Delillo's works. . . . There is much here in the methodology and discussion of postmodern themes and techniques that will have relevance to American studies and cultural studies more widely."--Forum for Modern Language Studies

Don DeLillo once remarked to an interviewer that his intention is to use "the whole picture, the whole culture," of America. Since the publication of his first novel Americana in 1971, DeLillo has explored modern American culture through a series of acclaimed novels, including White Noise (1985; winner of the American Book Award), Libra (1988), and Underworld (1997).

For Mark Osteen, the most bracing and unsettling feature of DeLillo's work is that, although his fiction may satirize cultural forms, it never does so from a privileged position outside the culture. His work brilliantly mimics the argots of the very phenomena it dissects: violent thrillers and conspiracy theories, pop music, advertising, science fiction, film, and television. As a result, DeLillo has been read both as a denouncer and as a defender of contemporary culture; in fact, Osteen argues, neither description is adequate. DeLillo's dialogue with modern institutions, such as chemical companies, the CIA, and the media, respects their power and ingenuity while criticizing their dangerous consequences. Even as DeLillo borrows from their discourses, he maintains a tenaciously opposing stance toward the sources of collective power.

Mark Osteen is Associate Professor of English at Loyola College. He is the editor of DeLillo's White Noise: Text and Criticism, and author of The Economy of Ulysses: Making Both Ends Meet.

Penn Studies in Contemporary American Fiction
2000 | 304 pages | 6 x 9
ISBN 978-0-8122-3551-7 | Cloth | $65.00s | £42.50
World Rights | Literature

Short copy:

"A strongly argued analysis and close reading of Delillo's works. . . . There is much here in the methodology and discussion of postmodern themes and techniques that will have relevance to American studies and cultural studies more widely."--Forum for Modern Language Studies

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Osteen's wide-ranging knowledge of media history and theory and ability to draw upon a variety of theoretical approaches with great clarity convincingly links DeLillo to the major intellectual currents of our times. This is just the sort of book to generate a livelier discussion of DeLillo's place in the postmodern canon."—David Cowart, University of South Carolina

"A strongly argued analysis and close reading of Delillo's works. . . . There is much here in the methodology and discussion of postmodern themes and techniques that will have relevance to American studies and cultural studies more widely."—Forum for Modern Language Studies

Read More Show Less

Product Details

Meet the Author

Mark Osteen is Associate Professor of English at Loyola College. He is the editor of DeLillo's White Noise: Text and Criticism, and author of The Economy of Ulysses: Making Both Ends Meet.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 Children of Godard and Coca-Cola: Cinema and Consumerism in the Early Fiction 8
2 The Nature of Diminishing Existence 31
3 Boomerang: Ratner's Star Through the Looking Glass 61
4 Observing Obsession, Questioning the Quest 99
5 The Theology of Secrets 142
6 The American Book of the Dead: Channeling White Noise 165
7 Becoming Incorporated: Spectacular Authorship in Mao II 192
8 "Everything is connected": Containment and Counterhistory in Underworld 214
Notes 261
Works Cited 279
Index 293
Acknowledgments 301
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