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New book about paranoia in American culture

Frida Beckman, professor of literature at Stockholm University, has written the book The Paranoid Chronotope Power, Truth, Identity.

Detail of the cover of the book cover of The Paranoid Chronotope
Detail of the cover of The Paranoid Chronotope: Power, Truth, Identity. Stanford University Press, 2022

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Why does it seem like our everyday life is shadowed by something menacing? This book identifies and illuminates paranoia as a significant feature of contemporary American society and culture. Centering on what it identifies as three key dimensions – power, truth, and identity – in three different contexts – society, literature, and critique – the book explores and explains the increasing influence of paranoid thinking in American society during the second half of the twentieth century and first decades of the twenty-first, a period that has seen the rise of control systems and neoliberal ascendency.

Inquiring about the predominance of white, male, American subjects in paranoid culture, Frida Beckman recognizes the antagonistic maintenance and fortification of a conception of the autonomous individual that perceives itself to be under threat. Identifying such paranoia as emerging from an increasingly disjunctive relation between this conception of the subject and the changing nature of the public sphere, she develops the concept of the paranoid chronotope as a tool for the theoretical analysis of social, literary, and critical practices today. Investigating twenty-first century paranoid fictions, New Sincerity novels, conspiracist online culture, and postcritique, Beckman shows how the paranoid chronotope constitutes a recurring feature of modern consciousness.


About Frida Beckman

Frida Beckman. Photo: Ingmarie Andersson.

Frida Beckman is professor of literature at the Department of Culture and Aesthetics. Her main field of research is American literature and culture from the Second World War to the present. She is also engaging with a broad spectrum of critical theory and with the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze.

Frida Beckman is director of literary research at the department. She is host for the podcast Studio Anekdot.

More about Frida Beckman's research