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The Iconoclastic ImaginationImage, Catastrophe, and Economy in America from the Kennedy Assassination to September 11$
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Ned O'Gorman

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226310060

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226310374.001.0001

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(p.102) 4 Challenger
The Iconoclastic Imagination

Ned O'Gorman

University of Chicago Press

Chapter four looks at a second American iconoclasm in the Cold War era, the Challenger disaster. Approaching the disaster in the context of Ronald Reagan’s America, where both television and neoliberal policy were reaching crescendos, the chapter argues that Reagan’s “Challenger Address” was a means of negotiating broader crises in political representation in America’s Cold War. Consistent with the iconoclastic tradition and its cultural, political, and indeed civic religious legacies, the “Challenger Address” pits “America” against the image. The nation, Reagan argues, like outer space, is uncontainable. But Reagan’s iconoclastic text is not strictly a matter of nationalist ideology; it concerns crises in representation that have both cultural and economic dimensions, in the form of television and deregulation respectively.

Keywords:   Challenger, Reagan, television, space

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