Tuesday, April 26, 2011

E-Book of the Week: Conspiracy Theories

Fenster, Mark. Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture (2nd ed.). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2008.

Fenster advances a progressive argument that conspiracy theories are a form of American (though perhaps not exclusively American) popular political interpretation, and he contends that understanding how they circulate through mass culture helps us better understand our society as a whole. Starting with (and revising) theories from Richard Hofstadter's seminal work The Paranoid Style in American Politics, he goes on to offer contemporary critiques of 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. He also analyzes the "conspiracy community" that exists in radio, publishing, Internet sites, and role-playing games. He believes conspiracy theory has become, among other things, a thrill for a bored subculture that reinterprets "accepted" history and is cynical about contemporary politics, but often longs, implicitly or explicitly, for a utopian future.

Previewed by John Breitmeyer, Research and Instruction Librarian/Web Support Specialist. Click here to read this book.

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