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The Writing of Terrorism: Contemporary American Fiction and Maurice Blanchot

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Christian Klöckner

Terrorism has long been a popular subject for American fiction writers. This book argues that terrorism in 1990s novels by Paul Auster, Philip Roth, and Bret Easton Ellis serves as a key trope to interrogate the limits of writing and the power of literature. Based on the complex literary and philosophical thought of Maurice Blanchot, this study deals with the writer’s terrorist temptation, language’s investment in violence, and literature’s negotiation of radical alterity. Auster’s, Roth’s, and Ellis’s novels elucidate contemporary political and economic developments as well as our cultural fear of, and fascination with, terrorism. The writing of terrorism can thus become the foundation of a different politics where, according to Maurice Blanchot, «there is no explosion except a book.»

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General Editor’s Preface

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Transcription: Cultures – Concepts – Controversies is dedicated to publishing work that explores culture as cultures; work that interrogates the concepts, methods, and theories through which we map these explorations of cultures; and work that intervenes into the controversies that necessarily arise when we negotiate the complexities of cultures and cultural concepts.

Transcription focuses on, yet is by no means limited to, interdiscursive explorations of North American cultures and cultural practices. Recognizing that cultures tend to travel across regional and national boundaries – and increasingly do so in the age of digital media –, Transcription at the same time holds that concepts like cultural difference and nation remain relevant. For whenever boundaries collapse, new ones are likely to be formed.

The term ‘transcription’ acknowledges that all cultures engage in acts of copying, translating, and transforming performed, spoken, written, or digitalized sounds, languages, and codes from one medium into another. Only as close readers of these acts and processes of transformation can we achieve cultural literacy. With its multiple resonances within the human, social, and natural sciences the concept transcription also creates the frame for a wide range of transdisciplinary perspectives. Our close readings therefore aspire to travel far.

Referring, more specifically, to processes of encoding and transferring genetic information, Transcription recognizes the concurrence of cultural change, epistemological shifts, and scientific development. Taking up the challenges that the natural sciences pose to the humanities and social sciences, Transcription proposes to engage in dialogues between seemingly distant disciplines....

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