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American Military Imperial Horror
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Languages. (Linnaeus University Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3293-6324
2017 (English)In: Imperial Cultures of the United States, University of Warwick, 5 May 2017, 2017Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In Rule of Darkness: British Literature and Imperialism, 1830–1914 (1988), Patrick Brantlinger influentially suggests that one of the most important vehicles of British imperialism before WWI was the Imperial Gothic. This subgenre made extensive use of gothic tropes to tell extrovert stories of British colonial expansion, but also rehearsed xenophobic narratives of reverse invasion of the empire. Thus, the Oriental Other of the British novel was given the monstrous form of vampire or African warlock, heightening the sense of urgency and anxiety that arguably saturated the British Empire at its zenith.

Building on Julian Go’s analysis in Patterns of Empire (2011) of the US as ‘an aging empire watching dreadfully as rivals threaten to take their slice of the pie’ (167), and on my own work in The American Imperial Gothic (2014), this paper positions US horror as responding to a historical moment very similar to that which produced the British Imperial Gothic. From this vantage point, the paper explores one of the most recent US horror genres termed military horror. This genre combines supernatural horror stories with a paradigm established by documentary military narratives such as Black Hawk Down (1999), Lone Survivor (2006), No Easy Day (2012), and American Sniper (2012), texts that celebrate the exploits of Special Forces in the Middle East and other parts of the world. This combination results in narratives such as SEAL TEAM 666 (2012), a novel in which various challenges to US global hegemony – including Islamic fundamentalism and Chinese imperialism – take monstrous and supernatural forms that must then be combatted by US Special Forces teams.

The military horror genre can thus be viewed as the most recent evolution of a tradition of imperial Anglo writing that goes back to the turn of the previous century. However, the paper also notes crucial differences between the British imperial gothic and US imperial horror in that the ending of the latter genre is rarely the final collapse of the hostile entity and a return to a peaceful, democratic world order. Rather, military imperial horror takes place in a continuous, clandestine and perpetual global war between the US and various apocalyptic forces of darkness. This metaphorical context further blurs political relationships already obscured in the documentary military narrative. At the same time, it encourages an understanding of military violence as the only meaningful form of political agency.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017.
Keyword [en]
imperialism, US Empire, horror, gothic literature, militarism
National Category
Specific Literatures
Research subject
Humanities, Comparative literature
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-64506OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-64506DiVA: diva2:1103651
Conference
Imperial Cultures of the United States, University of Warwick, 5 May 2017
Available from: 2017-05-30 Created: 2017-05-30 Last updated: 2017-06-14Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
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Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
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  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
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Output format
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  • asciidoc
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