Enemies Within

Enemies Within : The Cold War and the AIDS Crisis in Literature, Film, and Culture

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"Enemies Within" traces the discourse of hostility, hysteria, and global threat that links the literature and film of the cold war era with that of the AIDS era. Not only the political and biological illnesses themselves but also the fear and panic they engender are the plagues with which Jacqueline Foertsch is concerned in this wide-ranging study. "Enemies Within" argues that our shared experience of and response to AIDS not only significantly resembles but also emerged directly from its mid-century predecessor, which conditioned us to dread worldwide biological disaster and an invisible enemy.Foertsch considers the 'false binaries' (straight/gay, patriot/traitor, healthy/infected) that promise protection from an invasive threat and the utopian impulse to purge, homogenize, and relocate problematic individuals outside the city walls.
Tracking the coded language of illness and cure, Foertsch unravels the plague imagery of such texts as George Orwell's "1984", Thomas Pynchon's "Gravity's Rainbow", Margaret Atwood's "Handmaid's Tale", Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451", Paul Auster's "In the Country of Last Things", Don DeLillo's "White Noise", and Armistad Maupin's "Tales of the City" series.She also compares cold war-era films with their AIDS-era remakes, showing that although the enemy threat changes shape, the plague of human hysteria remains remarkably constant. Forthright and perceptive, "Enemies Within" presents the literature and film of the cold war and AIDS eras as evidence, manifestation, and symptom of the recurring ills of our postnuclear time: global threat, buried fears, and a paranoid reaction to the infectious Other.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 248 pages
  • 162.1 x 236.7 x 23.9mm | 636.99g
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • 0252026373
  • 9780252026379

Review quote

"Although the postmodern age has been termed the 'Age of Angst,' few of us recognize the pervasive effects of free-floating anxiety-anxiety without a specific focus-in ordinary lives. In Enemies Within, Jacqueline Foertsch has provided a masterful connection between two of today's big issues: nuclear contamination and AIDS. Her clear and cogent argument analyzes contemporary literature and film to show not only how many aspects of life this anxiety affects, but also how it distorts our ability to assess both immediate and proximate problems." - Martha A. Bartter, author of The Way to Ground Zero: The Atomic Bomb in American Science Fiction "Foertsch is a shrewd reader/observer and cultural critic. Here she makes a powerful and convincing argument that gender dynamics are not simply a thematic issue for nuclear and AIDs fiction but assume an integral role in its shaping. Enemies Within is both corrective of the current picture of contemporary fiction and innovative in reframing how this fiction makes cultural sense." - John Johnston, author of Information Multiplicity: American Fiction in the Age of Media Saturation
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