By Erik Mortenson
After contextualizing the postwar use of shadow imagery within the wake of the atomic bomb, Ambiguous Borderlands looks at shadows in print works, detailing the reemergence of the pulp fiction crime fighter the Shadow within the late-1950s writings of Sylvia Plath, Amiri Baraka, and Jack Kerouac. utilizing Freudian and Jungian conceptions of the subconscious, Mortenson then discusses Kerouac’s and Allen Ginsberg’s shared dream of a “shrouded stranger” and the way it formed their Beat aesthetic. Turning to the visible, Mortenson examines the dehumanizing influence of shadow imagery within the chilly warfare images of Robert Frank, William Klein, and Ralph Eugene Meatyard. Mortenson concludes with an research of using chiaroscuro in Fifties movie noir and the preferred tv series The Twilight Zone, additional detailing how the complexities of chilly battle society have been reflected throughout those media within the ubiquitous imagery of sunshine and dark.
From comics to video clips, Beats to bombs, Ambiguous Borderlands provides a singular realizing of the chilly battle cultural context via its research of clone of the shadow in midcentury media. Its interdisciplinary technique, formidable subject material, and various theoretical framing make it crucial examining for someone attracted to American literary and pop culture throughout the fifties and sixties.
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