Dangerous Fictions

The Fear of Fantasy and the Invention of Reality

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Book Description

In a political moment when social panics over literature are at their peak, Dangerous Fictions is a mind-expanding treatise on the nature of fictional stories as cultural battlegrounds for power.

Fictional stories have long held an uncanny power over hearts and minds, especially those of young people. In Dangerous Fictions, Lyta Gold traces arguments both historical and contemporary that have labeled fiction as dark, immoral, frightening, or poisonous. Within each she asks: How “dangerous” is fiction, really? And what about it provokes waves of moral panic and even censorship?

Gold argues that any panic about art is largely a disguised panic about power. There have been versions of these same fights over fiction for centuries. By exposing fiction as a social danger and a battleground of immediate public concern, we can see what each side really wants—the right to shape the future of a world deeply in flux and a distraction from more pressing material concerns about money, access, and the hard work of politics.

From novels about people driven insane by reading novels to “copaganda” TV shows that influence how viewers regard the police, Gold uses her signature wit, research, and fearless commentary to point readers toward a more substantial question: Fiction may be dangerous to us, but aren’t we also dangerous to it?

About the Author

Praise For This Book

“Fiction incites and excites; is both championed and reviled as a force for ideology or empty calories for our lowest social common denominator. But what's really going on? Effortlessly witty, Lyta Gold’s Dangerous Fictions rejects dead-ended questions of utility and examines from a hundred angles what we hear, what we read, what we watch, and why. Everything from video games or chick lit to explicit political imagination can be a battleground—Gold shows us that careful attention can reveal the competing social and structural forces which shape the way we live, breathe, and dream in Western culture." —Timothy Faust, author of Health Justice Now: Single Payer and What Comes Next