Today, as in the past, the role of government is hotly contested; there are debates surrounding the scope of health care reform, libertarian calls for drastic cuts, and urges from both sides of the aisle to “streamline.” Concurrently, recent scholars, including notably Bruce Robbins and Michael Rubenstein, have sought to understand better how cultural products help one to negotiate where government should – or should not – go. These literary critics are loosely positioned under the title “government is good.” Building from the trend, this panel will seek to examine the complex ways literature and film reflect anxieties and/or hopes concerning topics such as infrastructure, welfare, and more broadly, communal interdependence.
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