Type of Document Thesis Author Kiely, Laura URN etd-04102008-125145 Title Foucault and the Strategies of Resistance in the New Journalism of Capote, Wolfe, and Kovic Degree Master of Arts Department English, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Ned Stuckey-French Committee Chair Barry Faulk Committee Member Leigh Edwards Committee Member Keywords
- Electric Kool Aid Acid Test
- Born on the Fourth of July
- group psychology
- In Cold Blood
Date of Defense 2007-12-07 Availability unrestricted AbstractThis thesis is a study of the ways in which Michel Foucault’s theoretical assumptions about power relations are manifested in the New Journalism of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, and Ron Kovic’s Born on the Fourth of July. Chapter one begins by delineating the many power relations operating within In Cold Blood. Capote’s groundbreaking nonfiction novel illustrates the complexity of the power struggle between Capote and his reader; Capote, Perry Smith, and Dick Hickock; and American culture and Perry, Dick, and the Clutters. This chapter includes a close reading of Foucault’s “The Subject and Power.” Chapter one finds instances where panopticism affects power relations.
Chapter two contends that power and the creation of discourses of power are vital to the health of any group or society. A reading of Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test reveals that power is ubiquitous — even in anti-authoritarian, antiestablishment groups like Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters. Wolfe’s text contends that the discourse of power can be healthy for a group or a society, so far as the source of truth is not someone like Ken Kesey. Throughout the text, Wolfe criticizes Kesey, the Pranksters, and the psychedelic drug movement. Chapter two finds that Wolfe’s book is essentially an exercise in meta-discourse: Wolfe promotes his own idea of truth while critiquing another.
The final chapter in this study explores resistance in Ron Kovic’s memoir, Born on the Fourth of July. Where Kovic may lack the journalist credentials of Capote and Wolfe, he makes up for in passion and raw talent. His memoir delivers a personal, historical, and sociological account of one of the darkest aspects of American life during the 1960s and early 70s. Writing about his struggle to adjust to his new life as a paralyzed war veteran, Kovic chronicles his resistance against not only the Vietnam War, but also against established conventions of “normality.” Kovic is paradoxically trapped and then freed by his paralysis. He represents Foucault’s notion of a subject’s ethical possibility.
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