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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Tracing the networks of postmodernity : media and technology in the novels of Martin Amis and Don Delillo Thomson, D.


This study discusses works by Martin Amis and Don DeLillo in the context of several key scientific and technological transformations that occur in the aftermath of the Second World War. I begin by revisiting one of the most-discussed aspects of DeLillo's work: the currents conspiracy and paranoia that recur in his novels and, he claims, pervade the wider culture. By demonstrating how paranoid narratives strive to accommodate contemporary technologies, I create a context in which the paranoia addressed in works such as Libra and Underworld becomes intelligible as a response to the specific technological character of surveilance and control in the post-War period. The sciences of information and cybernetics also cohere in the years folowing the War, and the second chapter explores the creative tension between metaphors of entropy and information in Amis's fiction as wel as DeLillo's. The third chapter focuses on television as a constitutive element of postmodernity, and traces how DeLillo and Amis adopt narrative strategies that enable them to represent subjects who have grown accustomed to living within an environment mediated, to an unprecedented degree, by visual imagery supplied by or formatted for television. Another product of postmodern technology, commercial air travel reconfigures relationships to place and to time for inhabitants of industrialized countries. Both the liberating and limiting consequences of living in the latter half of the century of flight are addressed in the fourth chapter. The final chapter offers an assessment of the role contemporary media and technology play in establishing the characteristics associated with postmodernity, and concludes with a brief discussion of the role the internet might play within the context of the specific technologies discussed in the body of the thesis.

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