Document Type



Media Studies (Pomona)

Publication Date



Cohen, Josh, 1970-; Books-Reviews; American history and culture; Postmodernism


Josh Cohen, in his new book Spectacular Allegories: Postmodern American Writing and the Politics of Seeing, argues that postmodern American novelists ranging from Norman Mailer to Joan Didion, Robert Coover to James Ellroy, do not merely fall into accord with this critique -text good; image bad- but are in fact using the allegorical nature of their encounters with and representations of visual culture as a means of reintroducing the image to history, an attempt to construct a new critical politics of visuality. The possibility of a critical visual agency is raised for Cohen in these writers’ gendered representations of the reversible and dialogic nature of specularity-that the watcher may, at any moment, become the watched-a mutable relationship that is made possible by a perceived crisis in masculine narrative and visual authority, and may undermine the domination imposed by that traditional authority.


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© 1999 Kathleen Fitzpatrick

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