Post-lecture Discussion: Understanding Conspiracy Theory with Timothy Melley, professor of English and Geoffrion Family Director of the Humanities Center at Miami University

What is “conspiracy theory”? What is its history, and what are its causes? Is it a symptom of individual cognition or social structures, such as media systems, state and corporate practices, or cultural narratives? Why does it seem to be flourishing now in modern democracies, including the United States? Optional Reading: Richard Hofstadter, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” Harper’s Magazine (1963) Timothy Melley is Professor of English and Geoffrion Family Director of the Humanities Center at Miami University. He is the author of The Covert Sphere: Secrecy, Fiction, and the National Security State (Cornell 2012), Empire of Conspiracy: The Culture of Paranoia in Postwar America (Cornell 2000), and more than 30 essays and stories. He is currently writing about the cultural politics of security.