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Title:Grassy Knoll-Edges: Conspiracy Theories and Political Rationality in the 1990s
Author(s):Bratich, Jack Zeljko
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Treichler, Paula A.
Department / Program:Communications
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Political Science, General
Abstract:This dissertation studies the recent proliferation of conspiracy theories in the United States and the attending ways official analyses have assessed them as a political problem. First, I examine the common representations of conspiracy theories by prominent cultural texts and institutions. Mainstream journalism (major newspapers, weekly magazines, and television broadcast news programs), alternative press organs (especially Left and liberal news magazines), and popular cultural media (television dramas and talk shows, Hollywood films, and best-selling books) are investigated for their similarities and differences with regards to representing conspiracy theories. Second, I analyze the conspiracy theories on their own terms. In doing so, I concentrate on how they take themselves as objects of concern, and I locate the points of intersection and conflict with the mainstream institutions that objectify them. I also examine how emerging technologies (especially the Internet) contribute to the dissemination of conspiracy theories, as well as to the concern about these theories by official institutions. Specifically, I focus on how the commonsensical representations of "conspiracy theories" are bound up with present day issues of political dissent and consent. What are the parameters of acceptable dissent in contemporary politics, and what new forms of consent are being forged? As reflections on citizenship, these representations of "political paranoia" continue the perpetual self-questioning of "the American Character" that composes American political history. I argue, then, that the recognition of conspiracy theories is also a recognition of our political possibilities and limitations in the contemporary American landscape.
Issue Date:2001
Description:311 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2001.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3023024
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-28
Date Deposited:2001

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