This edited collection examines the effects that macrosystems have on the figuration of our everyday—of microdystopias—and argues that microdystopic narratives are part of a genre that has emerged in contrast to classic dystopic manifestations of world-shattering events. From different methodological and theoretical positions in fieldworks ranging from literary works and young adult series to concrete places and games, the contributors in Microdystopias: Aesthetics and Ideologies in a Broken Moment sound the depths of an existential sense of shrinking horizons – spatially, temporally, emotionally, and politically. The everyday encroachment on our sense of spatial orientation that gradually and discreetly diminishes the horizons of possibilities is demonstrated by examining what the forms of the microdystopic look like when they are aesthetically configured. Contributors analyze the aesthetics that play a particularly central and complex role in mediating, as well as disrupting, the parameters of dystopian emergences and emergencies, reflecting an increasingly uneasy relationship between the fictional, the cautionary, and the real. Scholars of media studies, sociology, and philosophy will find this book of particular interest.
Asbjørn Grønstad is professor of visual culture in the Department of Information Science and Media Studies, University of Bergen.
Lene M. Johannessen is professor of American literature in the Department of Foreign Languages, University of Bergen.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Microdystopias
Asbjørn Grønstad and Lene Johannessen
Chapter 2: Toward a Diagnostics of the Present: Popular Culture, Post-Apocalyptic
Macro-Dystopia, and the Petrification of Politics
Chapter 3: The Electronic Superhighway Collapses: The Silences of Don DeLillo’s The Silence
Chapter 4: Microdystopias and the Encoded Uncanny in Ira Levin and Rick and Morty
Michael J. Prince
Chapter 5: Unfeeling the Future: Euphoria, Teen Angst and the Micro-dystopic
Chapter 6: ‘Heavenly Days’ and Everyday Dystopia in Superstore
Chapter 7: Nomadland, Neoliberalism and the Microdystopic
Chapter 8: Micro-dystopia and the Question of Wilderness
Chapter 9: Cultural Appropriation or Cultural Appreciation? Unpacking the microtopias of Beyonce’s Black is King
Chapter 10: ‘It’s our secret, right?’: An Investigation of Homelessness in HBO’s
Mare of Easttown
Janne Stigen Drangsholt
About the Contributors
Microdystopias, as defined by the editors, are the “emerging genre of our times” and consist of the small and incremental “everyday encroachments on our horizons” brought about by the polarization of politics and class, the climate crisis, "cybernetic totalism," neoliberalism, the pandemic, capitalism, and other societal ills (p. 4). The ten chapters by scholars of various disciplines from two Norwegian universities explore and develop the concept of microdystopias through the lens of popular culture. Recommended. Graduate students and faculty.
“Have we become exhausted by mass culture’s indulgence in exorbitant spectacles of apocalyptic destruction and civilizational collapse, and turned instead to more modest and nuanced portrayals of the on-going “microdystopias” of everyday life? This scintillating collection of essays by a team of astute Norwegian cultural critics makes a strong case for the transition from fearing the world will end with a bang to experiencing it as an endless series of desperate whimpers."