Date of Award
Master of Arts
Mary Manjikian and other critics argue that post-911 apocalyptic Literature is anarchic, breaking away from the state through its destruction. This thesis challenges this claim, looking at the state through the abstract form presented by Deleuze and Guattari in A Thousand Plateaus to argue that while the state in its physical manifestation is indeed removed within the post-apocalyptic narrative, an internal desire for governance and a return to status-quo remains. Chapter 1 examines Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Road in relation to this theory, particularly within the interactions between the father and son, showing that through the father, an argument can be made for the characters’ wish to return to a time where a physical state existed. Chapter 2 examines the relevance of the zombie narrative in relation to other “post-911 apocalyptic Literature” to examine both where these texts and media fit in relation to the state and contemporary culture – particularly in relation to politics. Through AMC’s “The Walking Dead”, the zombie narrative not only exhibits similar tendencies for a yearning of state power, but also expands the definition of a post-apocalyptic narrative, as when the state returns, not only is the narrative altered to one of dystopian fiction, the “other” becomes more ambiguous, as the zombies begin to pose little threat, leading to political tension amongst survivors. Chapter 3 and 4 examine the return to popularity of Lovecraft-esque fiction alongside the cultural infectiousness of the zombie. Beginning with Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthulhu” and moving to China Miéville’s novel Perdido Street Station, the thesis will conclude with an examination of eldritch horror as an alternative to the post-apocalyptic in terms of rethinking the relationship of the state in contemporary culture, and arguing that the political “other” is now viewed as monstrous and difficult to define in a manner which zombies are unable to fully represent.
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