Greta Olson. “The Politics of Form”

Greta Olson
Keynote I (20. June 2013)

The Politics of Form: Analyzing Post-Post 9/11 Critical Texts

The title The Politics of Form was inspired by the work of Daniel Hartley, who uses the phrase in reference to Marxist literary theory. Please cf. Hartley's article and the reference below for more details.


A frequent argument is made in literary studies that form contributes centrally to the content of aesthetic texts. In this talk I wish to argue that form is inherently political and that treating formal structural categories as politically agentive may be a manner in which to question dominant cultural narratives. I take my examples from two texts that belong to what I have called a post-post-‘9/11’ sensibility: Moshin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007) and the first season of Showtime’s Homeland (2011-). In the first case the unreliability of the you-narration is employed in order to question the monologic quality of Western reporting on the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the ensuing ‘war on terror.’ In the second case the unreliability and multifocalization of the series’ narrative comprise a self-conscious and ultimately legitimizing examination of US security measures in the post-post-‘9/11’ era. My larger aims are first to show how traditional categories of literary and cultural analysis, such as narrator unreliability, rest on privileged assumptions about the equality of persons involved; and, second, to employ categories from classical narratological analysis to political and culturally critical ends.


 Jewish Women in Historical Perspective
Judith Reesa Baskin
 Address to the Nation
George W. Bush
 Heart of Darkness
Joseph Conrad
 The Falling Man
Richard Drew
 Ten Years Of Fear, Grief, Revenge, Resilience
Editors of Newsweek
 Raising the Flag at Ground Zero
Thomas E. Franklin
 Die Erzählung
Gerard Genette
Howard Gordon
 The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Mohsin Hamid
 Mohsin Hamid: ‘We are already afraid.’1
Mohsin Hamid
 The Politics of Form: British and American Marxist Literary Theory
Daniel Hartley
 Homeland's Damian Lewis Meets His No. 1 Fan: President Obama
Scott Huver
 The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Washington Irving
 Art and Democracy: Art as an Agnostic Intervention in Public Space
Chantal Mouffe
 Questioning the Ideology of Reliability in Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist: Towards a Critical, Culturalist Narratology
Greta Olson
 'And then I smiled': The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007) – Critical Perspectives on 9/11 and Post-9/11 Prejudices
Greta Olson; Greta Olson
 Reconsidering Unreliability: Fallible and Untrustworthy Narrators
Greta Olson
 I Pledge Allegience
Karen Olsson
Colin Powell
 "America under Attack”: CNN's Verbal and Visual Framing of September 11
Amy Reynolds; Brooke Barnett
 A Concise Natural History of East and West-Florida
Bernard Romans
 Beyond Orientalism and Islamophobia: 9/11, Anti-Arab Racism, and the Mythos of National Pride
Steven George Salaita
 On Verbal Irony
Dan Sperber; Deidre Wilson
 Can the Subaltern Speak
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
 Living Under Drones: Death, Injury and Trauma to Civilians from US Drone Practices in Pakistan
Stanford Clinic
 Theory of Narrative
Franz Karl Stanzel
 Scalia and Torture
Andrew Sullivan
Joel Surnow
 A Model of Christian Charity
John Winthrop