Area of Expertise
Paranoia and conspiracy theories in contemporary American culture; literary theory; psychoanalytic theory; French literature of the ninteenth century
Peter Starr is a renowned scholar in the fields of French literature and literary theory and an expert on paranoia and conspiracy theories in contemporary American culture. He recently completed version 1.0 of We the Paranoid, a Web-based multimedia "book" examining how and why conspiracy theories have developed and taken root in American culture during the past two decades. His best-known research examines how literary, theoretical, and filmic texts bear the traces of significant traumatic events in the cultures from which they spring. His book Logics of Failed Revolt: French Theory After May '68 (Stanford University Press, 1995) studies the strategically central role played by a constellation of commonplace "explanations" for the necessary failure of revolutionary action within French theoretical discourse of the late 1960s and early 1970s. A second book by Starr, Commemorating Trauma: The Paris Commune and Its Cultural Aftermath (Fordham University Press, 2006), shows how the enactment of confusion in novels, histories, and films effectively parried the specific traumas of the so-called Terrible Year of 1870-1871.