"America First": Fear, Memory Activism, and Everyday Life in Philip Roth's The Plot Against America

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Taking cues from critics of alternate history, everyday life history, and affect studies, I argue that embedding his personal memories of anti-Semitism in the 1940s within a fictional framework in which Lindbergh defeats Roosevelt, Philip Roth's The Plot Against America does more than simply impel its readers to know and to try to understand the often neglected anti-Semitic past of the U.S. As a literary counterfactual to "illuminate the past through the past," it applies moral judgment to the grand narrative of "America First" and reveals how fear of white supremacy could become perpetual, like habits, to both the novel's Jewish protagonists and contemporary readers. Unraveling the relationship of fear with both memory and activism, I suggest that The Plot Against America does not merely manifest remembering as a tactic or an act of resistance. Moreover, in a culture of fear, it illuminates the influences of emotions on how one remembers and possible practices of resistance that ordinary individuals be actively involved in on a small scale and on a daily basis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-77
Number of pages19
JournalSun Yat-sen Journal of Humanities
Volume46
Issue number46
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jan 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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