PhD-candidate | Hanne Nijtmans
Institution: Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
Supervisor: prof. L.C. Bieger, Dr. Kathryn Roberts, Dr. Tim Jelfs
The current political climate can be defined as the ‘age of conspiracy,’ considering for example the paranoid statements of Donald Trump and Thierry Baudet and the rise of alt-right conspiracy Q-Anon. In the public debate, paranoia is often regarded indicative of delusional thought. My intervention aims to show how in contemporary American fictional podcasts, the paranoid style can have a creative and politically productive potential.
This project focuses on the forms and functions of the paranoid style in the fictional podcast genre by examining the shows of four American podcasts producers: Night Vale Presents, Gimlet Media, The Public Radio Alliance, and Tim Robbins’ Bobbo Supreme. The central research question is: What are the aesthetic forms, social and political functions of the paranoid style in American fictional podcasts?
This project develops an innovative interdisciplinary methodological approach combining close reading, affect theory and ethnographic research methods. This ground-breaking approach captures the full scope of paranoia’s functions: aesthetically, it shows how these podcasts both in form and content convey a paranoid affect. This affect is political, because it contains the collective responses to the urgent crises of the ‘age of conspiracy,’ and social, as it is a shared affect that inspires virtual (fan) communities. This approach will generate new insights in contemporary American culture and politics in ‘the age of conspiracy’ and the tension between fictional podcasting’s political commitment and their complicity in the social conditions they respond to.