Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. English Dept.


Tilar J. Mazzeo


Through the increased amount of documentation occurring in the individual’s everyday life, through the government, through social media, etc., the question of history’s place in contemporary culture arises—who is the author of history, how is the struggle over authorship played out within contemporary literature, and where does humanity fit within this struggle? I argue that the struggle for authorship within contemporary society has suspended history. Contending authors constantly rewrite the pre-narrative, the event history records, prohibiting society from moving forward. Whoever gains the ultimate authorial role, whoever becomes the author of history, controls humanity. To examine this occurrence within contemporary society, I have analyzed four texts produced post-2000 —Haruki Murakami’s 2011 novel 1Q84, Florian Henckel von Donnersmark's 2006 film “The Lives of Others,” Vernor Vinge’s 2006 futuristic novel Rainbows End, and Cormac McCarthy’s 2006 post-apocalyptic novel The Road. To frame this literary analysis, I use Baudrillard’s notion of laundering history, conspiracy theory, and thoughts on the future of narratology to express the theoretical milieu within contemporary society that perpetuates the continual rewriting of the pre-narrative. The first half of my literary analysis uses George Orwell’s 1984 as a lens to analyze Murakami’s 1Q84 and von Donnersmarck’s “The Lives of Others,” for they directly engage in this work, reviewing the notion of Big Brother and surveillance within modern culture. In Vinge’s Rainbows End and McCarthy’s The Road, I look at the consequences of this suspension on the future of society. To avoid the futures Vinge and McCarthy present, through my research I conclude that a new interpretation of the individual and its place in society must be created.


Critical Theory, History, Contemporary Literature

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