Establishing Historical Consciousness via the Historical Novel: Don DeLillo and His Epic Work Underworld

Boylu O.

Journal of American Studies of Turkey, no.55, pp.77-99, 2021 (Refereed Journals of Other Institutions)

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Title of Journal : Journal of American Studies of Turkey
  • Page Numbers: pp.77-99


The objective of this article is to render several definitions of the concept of historical consciousness which, as a notion, is a relatively young concept since the early studies on this issue emerged during 1970s and the major breakthrough came at the beginning of the 21st century. Hence, in the light of the recent studies on the nature and significance of this concept and the vanishing boundary between history and fiction within the postmodern context, the role of the historical novel in the establishment process of the historical consciousness became evident. In this respect, Don DeLillo’s historical novel Underworld (1997) that covers almost fifty years of the United Sates, is selected in order to exemplify how a fictional text can contribute to the historical consciousness of its reader. By recreating the atmosphere of the Cold War period, the author presents a multilayered portrayal of the second half of the 20th century with its political, cultural and social agenda.