ABSTRACT

This chapter surveys recent depictions of government secrecy, with a particular focus on the period after 2005, when news of National Security Agency surveillance programs first came to public knowledge. These depictions closely track the increasing size and complexity of the national security state and reflect its penetration into the everyday lives of citizens. The sublime under the War on Terror presents a world defined by the open secret of mass government surveillance rather than deeply hidden conspiracies. Government secrecy is encountered everywhere and every day. The first part of the chapter looks at the influence of Romantic landscape descriptions on images of national security in contemporary art and novels. The chapter then turns to depictions of the NSA in popular culture, depictions that use the familiar genre cues of satire, horror, and the police procedural to underscore the new familiarity of national security surveillance.