Meet the author: the cult of the individual in unconventional journalism
Holzapfel, Niki Katrina
This thesis considers the forms of journalism that occupy the ambiguous boundary between literature and journalism. Though the distinction between literature and journalism is an increasingly popular subject of literary criticism, few studies have considered the centrality of the literary journalist figure as a vehicle for persona creation and the performance of the self. This study aims to further examine the complexities exhibited in works of literary journalism by considering each writer’s contributions in a traceable lineage. By considering the first-person narration in each text, this study seeks to position the form as a response to a particularly American conceptualization of individualism, given its importance as a sustained national mythology. Through the deliberate cultivation of a self-mythologizing persona, each writer utilizes the convergence of performance, commerce, and politics to exemplify an American ideology of individualism through the semi-autobiographical characters they craft. Thus, the immersive style of literary journalism examined in this study can be read as a reflection of the continued prizing of individualism as an ideal that perpetuates partly because of self-reflexive narratives that conflate the narrator and the narrated.