Oil in an American imaginary

Winter 2009

If much of twentieth century US history is defined by its relationship to oil, its cultural genealogy has been more difficult to fathom, as if oil’s ubiquity paradoxically seemed to cheat adequate cultural expression. This paper takes up Amitav Ghosh’s argument that ‘petrofiction’ does not exist in the American grain and answers it with an understanding of its specific geoculture, especially in relation to violence and war.

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