The shock and horror that gripped America on September 11, 2001, has given way to a culture of pathological worry. Ignited by the terrorist attacks, anxiety has been fueled by the nation's official response, which sanctioned a narrative of good vs. evil, the suppression of intellectual debate and the political expediency of keeping the citizenry in a constant state of fear. Snipers in the capital, the government in bunkers, flag euphoria and anthrax hysteria, torture in Abu Ghraib and a stuntman who survived Niagara Falls - these were the nation's portents, signs of the times in post-9/11 America. Portents of the Real examines culture to apprehend the foreboding political subtexts of a nation perpetually at war on terror. Against an ever-deepening climate of political repression and a journalistic landscape dominated by sensationalized controversy and historical forgetfulness, Susan Willis offers an astute analysis of the realities behind America's cultural myths. The effect is both wry and unnerving.
Susan Willis's previous works include A Primer for Daily Life, Specifying: Black Women Writing the American Experience, and Inside the Mouse. She is Associate Professor of Literature at Duke University