Rob Shepherd – Remembering the Cold War: Don DeLillo’s Underworld and Lieux de Mémoire

Abstract

This paper will investigate the way in which memories of the Cold War are explored in Don DeLillo’s 1997 novel Underworld. While numerous critics have remarked on Underworld’s engagement with the Cold War, few have situated this engagement within the wider field of collective memory studies. This paper thus looks at the way in which Underworld remediates collective memories of the Cold War era and suggests that DeLillo’s novel can be seen as, what the French historian Pierre Nora refers to as, a lieu de mémoire (site of memory) for the United States collective experience of the Cold War. The essay will begin by examining the problematic way in which the Cold War has tended to be discussed in relation to memory studies. From here, it will turn to a brief discussion of what exactly can be said to constitute a lieu de mémoire. The essay will then engage in a close reading of the 1951 Dodgers-Giants National League Final depicted in Underworld’s prologue, “The Triumph of Death,” arguing that the game functions as a multifaceted lieu de mémoire to the United States experience of the Cold War.

Keywords

Memory studies, Cold War, lieux de mémoire, Pierre Nora, Don DeLillo.

Section

Articles

Pages

Digressions 1.2 (2016), pp. 1-18

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Rob Shepherd - Remembering the Cold War: Don DeLillo’s Underworld and Lieux de Mémoire