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Eating America: Crisis, Sustenance, Sustainability

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Edited By Justyna Kociatkiewicz, Laura Suchostawska and Dominika Ferens

This volume of essays examines the relationship between eating and crisis. The United States’ long-lasting economic and cultural hegemony raises a number of questions: Has America been – literally and metaphorically – eating, appropriating, exploiting, and molding the world in its own image, or has it been eaten, appropriated, and exploited as a (frequently criticized or disdained) source of ideas, ideology, and knowledge? What is the relation between the current ecological crisis and America’s consumerist economy, with its practices of food production and consumption, and its use of natural resources? What is America’s role in the ongoing crisis of modernity? And, if the crisis continues, where are the sources of sustenance?
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Unhappy Meals: Fast Food and the Crisis of the Underground in American Goth-themed Fiction and Graphic Novels: Agata Zarzycka

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This paper tracks down connections between fast food and Goth subculture in selected post-2000 novels and graphic novels dealing with American Goths. That such a juxtaposition of themes may seem neither aesthetically promising, nor culturally relevant paradoxically provides this discussion with a broader context, namely, the issue of changes in the subculture-mainstream polarity. Specifically, I intend to show that at the time of the Gothic subcultural potential becoming paradigmatic and uncontrollably dispersed over popular culture, its significance as a countercultural commentary is sustained especially effectively thanks to the convention’s trademark self-reflectiveness and auto-irony, which in this analysis underlies the symbolic Goth migration from underground clubs to fast food restaurants. As confirmed by the examples discussed, Gothic self-reflective irony proves useful in addressing the identity formation issues preoccupying youth culture, which in turn confirms the cultural productivity of the Gothic policy of ambivalence in the mainstream/subculture polarity.

The consideration of the countercultural potential of the examples discussed is based on a combination of research devoted to the Goth movement as an actual social phenomenon and an analysis of Goth characters and artifacts as appropriated by popular culture and turned into an aesthetic and fictional trope. In order to avoid any possible inadequacy connected with interpreting the latter in the light of the sociologically informed debates over the Goth uniqueness with regard to the commercialization of subcultures, I start the essay with a brief discussion of the way the convention’s development, including differences between the European and the American Goth...

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