The Covert Sphere


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Table of Contents

Preface Introduction: The Postmodern Public Sphere Cold War Redux We Now Know Public Secrets Mere Entertainment Strategic Irrationalism Representations of the Covert State 1. Brainwashed! The Faisalabad Candidate Brain Warfare Little Shop of Horrors Softening Up Our Boys Renditions 2. Spectacles of Secrecy Trial by Simulation Political Theater Recovered (National) Memory The State's Two Faces Fakery in Allegiance to the Truth The Fabulist Spy 3. False Documents True Lies Enemies of the State Psy Ops The Epistemology of Vietnam 4. The Work of Art in the Age of Plausible Deniability Narrative Dysfunction Calculated Ellipsis The Feminization of the Public Sphere The Journalist as Patsy Metafiction in Wartime 5. Postmodern Amnesia Assassins of Memory The Dialectics of Spectacle and Secrecy Secret History The Magic Show 6. The Geopolitical Melodrama Ground Zero Enemies, Foreign and Domestic Whatever It Takes Demonology Melodrama as Policy Notes Works Cited Index

About the Author

Timothy Melley is Professor of English, Affiliate of American Studies,and Director of the Humanities Center at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He is the author of Empire of Conspiracy: The Culture of Paranoia in Postwar America and The Covert Sphere: Secrecy, Fiction, and the National Security State, both from Cornell.


"In his exploration of the national security state and the fiction it inspires, Melley engages in a spirited and cerebral examination of certain cultural and political tropes of the Cold Warand beyond, illustrating how often they have been rearticulated in a twenty-first-centurycontext as the War on Terror gathered pace in the wake of 9/11."- Sam Goodman, Literature & History (Fall 2013) "His study impressively documents how state secrecy became a privileged topos for reflecting on power and knowledge in late twentieth century American literature and cutlure." -Alexander Dunst,Journal of American Studies(2014) "The Covert Sphere brilliantly demonstrates how the covert activities undertaken by the Cold War state generated postmodern fantasies that the 'covert sphere' instructed citizens to enjoy. Timothy Melley's benchmark text will utterly transform received understandings of the Cold War and postmodern fiction alike."-Donald E. Pease, Founding Director of the Futures of American Studies Institute "Timothy Melley develops a rich, fruitful, and original engagement with the notion of the 'public sphere' that establishes it not as a discursive space purified of hidden agendae, disinformation, and secrecy, but rather as an overt acknowledgment of the covert. The Covert Sphere thus provides an astute taxonomy of the ways that the covert and the public relentlessly modify each other. This is a provocative and important book, one particularly relevant in this Age of Terror, when covert actions have become our boldest public obsessions."-Alan Nadel, University of Kentucky "Timothy Melley shows why a term like 'postmodernism' won't go away-not so long as the National Security State itself is grounded in irrationalism, the unreal, and the necessary lie. Melley's historicist argument is that over time and without central planning, in response to the (partly imagined) covert activity of the Soviets in the Cold War, the United States developed an elaborate 'covert sphere' through the CIA and many other government organizations. Through novels, films, television serials, and electronic games, knowledge circulates mostly as fictions and narratives, and this is the great advantage held by the covert sphere over the rational-critical public sphere: once knowledge is narrativized, it becomes not exactly deniable, but flexible, capable of endless construction so that no one narrative can ever hold the national stage for very long. Melley's understanding of the fictionality of contemporary knowledge, a key contribution to American cultural studies, also produces subtle and original readings of some of our most important postmodern fictions."-Joseph Tabbi, University of Illinois at Chicago

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