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Media History in DeLillo's Underworld


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Kos, Kristina. (2016). Media History in DeLillo's Underworld. Diploma Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of English Language and Literature. [mentor Cvek, Sven].

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Through cultural analysis of Don Delilo's Underworld, this paper analyzes media history in the United States in the second half of the twentieth century. Media play a prominent role in everyday life of the characters and are revealed to be only one in the array of forces that shape not only their sense of the self, but also a sense of the national identity. An especially dominant model of identity was established in the fifties as a product of the Cold War paranoia. It was for a period of time upheld by the media, until a new powerful force, capital, emerged and employed the media for propagating a variety of model identities. Behind this process stood a single goal of shaping a desirable consumer. The characters had a hard time adjusting to the new present in which a single unifying factor and a sense of stability no longer existed. Therefore, the fifties came to be perceived as a period which had a formative influence, and the past was desired to be restored. Radio, which in the fifties most explicitly propagated the dominant model identity, turned out to be a symbol of nostalgia, while the other forms of media continued to advocate for spectacle, a phenomenon which falsely presented itself as a unifying force and, therefore, replacement for the collective paranoia of the fifties. The notion of history was expelled and instead a new instant and infinitely renewable present was instituted. Dematerialization of actual reality led to the emergence of cyberspace, which in its influence rose to spiritual proportions and represented itself as a sort of a closure, enabling the consolidation of all realities. However, at the same time, it also threatened to dissolute the individual self. For this exact reason, DeLillo concludes the novel vaguely and ambivalently: will the media-constructed reality prevail, or has it perhaps already had?

Item Type: Diploma Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: media, national identity, history, new technology, reality
Subjects: English language and literature > American Studies
English language and literature
Departments: Department of English Language and Literature
Supervisor: Cvek, Sven
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2016 09:39
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2016 09:39

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