From the earliest airfields to the post-9/11 turn, this book investigates how airports figure in the American cultural imagination. The Textual Life of Airports shows how airports demand to be read. Working at the intersection of literary studies and cultural theory, Schaberg tracks airport stories in American literature, as well as in a range of visual texts (film, airport art, magazine illustrations). Throughout, close readings of literary passages highlight narrative tropes of airports in texts; these literary readings also function as a methodological lens for how to interpret airports as texts. The Textual Life of Airports accounts for how airports appear in literature throughout the twentieth-century, while also examining the influx of airport figures in markedly post-9/11 literature and culture. These literary and cultural representations work together to form the textual life of airports. Schaberg offers a theory for how airports rely on a network of interpenetrating narratives about mortality, perception, and mobility - and it is also a theory for how airports have the ability to break away from narrative consistency at any point. It is this constant yet fraught dependency on narrative that makes airports the place to read in the contemporary moment.
AUTHOR: Christopher Schaberg is Assistant Professor of Contemporary Literature & Critical Theory, Department of English, Loyola University New Orleans, USA.