Black Hawk Down Essays

According to these scholars, the postmodern ethos contributed to the feeling that Americans were “daily confronted by realities that were as actual as they seemed fictive” (Hellmann 1981, 2).Considering that literary journalism discards the notion of truth as objective and universal, and is therefore able to mount a counter-discourse to the objectivity norm, the chief occupational value of mainstream American journalism (cf.(CEN) – with the help of which it will be shown that narrative techniques and strategies are semanticized in Bowden’s hypertext to the extent that they convey ideologically charged values and norms and contribute to culture-specific notions of narration as a process of relating.

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They are ontologically similar insofar as these hybridized genres are characterized by a unique blend of fact and fiction.

Works of literary journalism such as Mark Bowden’s hypertext Blackhawk Down (1997) not only effectively assimilate the repertoires of fictional and factual genres, but they also, in a sense, surpass these genres and take on the status of a new, postmodern ‘supergenre’.

In The Mythopoeic Reality, Mas’ud Zavarzadeh (1976, 56) argues that the emergence of the ‘fictual’, a neologism that he uses to describe the merging of the fictional and the factual, is inextricably linked to “runaway contemporary technologies”.

Similarly, Ansgar Nünning and Jan Rupp’s (2011) claim that not only hybridization but also medialisation plays an important role in terms of generic development and innovation is highly applicable to literary journalism in general and Mark Bowden’s hypertext more specifically.

Bowden’s hypertext Blackhawk Down is characterized by what narratologists regard as the typical characteristics of narrative: (a) events, change and conflict, (b) sequentiality, (c) temporality and (d) experientiality (cf. It functions as a hermeneutic category that invokes the notion of conflict insofar as it is linked to an unpredictable turn or a deviation from the sequencing of events.

In Blackhawk Down, eventfulness emerges from the depiction of the failed U. relief mission in Somalia in 1993 whose tragic outcome only slowly revealed itself to the American public.I seek to shed light on the genre- and media-specific structures that serve as ways of cultural worldmaking as well as the ethical and epistemological functions of narratological categories that Bowden uses in order to advance narration so that it becomes a process of relating.The most urgent need in the context of a Critical Ethical Narratology (CEN) is to find a way to talk about the formal properties of hybridized (fictual) genres and to combine this discussion with a consideration of their ideological and ethical implications.The referential aspect has important implications in terms of the ethical, aesthetic and cognitive stance of the reader.The author’s commitment of being faithful to the historical record heightens not only the potential for identification on the part of the reader, but it also alters rhetorical purposes and interpretive strategies (cf. The narrativization of experiences makes it impossible for readers to remain emotionally indifferent to the narrative.Literary journalism can take on the form of a non-fiction novel, sequential photography, a graphic novel or, as is the case with Mark Bowden’s Blackhawk Down, a hypertext. hypertext), neither other media nor non-fictional genres other than literary journalism are beyond the boundaries of CEN (cf. The American author and journalist Mark Bowden recognized the narrative potential of the World Wide Web already in the late 1990s. In this type of medium, literariness depends not only on language and visual storytelling devices, but also on the specific use of hyperlinks. Precisely “because the text consists not only of the words the author has written but also of the structure of decisions that the author creates and the reader explores” (Bolter 1991, 154), Blackhawk Down enables new kinds of connectivity for the reader.In 1997, his newspaper series “Blackhawk Down: An American War Story” was transformed into a hypertext (Fig. The story, which originally appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, consists in its multimedia version of twenty-nine chapters, enriched with graphics, maps, photographs, audio and video clips. A hypertext creates the impression of “a universe where the ‘and/and/and’ is always possible” (Douglas 1998, 155), but the narrative fabric of Blackhawk Down is based on an illusion of choice: “The user should progress under the impression that his actions determine the course of the plot, when in fact his choices are set up by the system as a function of the effect to be reached” (Ryan 2001, 246).Moreover, epistemologically speaking, the aforementioned genres share some common ground, because they are all invested in “discovering, constructing, and self-consciously exploring meaning beyond our ‘media-constructed reality’” (Hellmann 1981, xi).For the purpose of this essay, the genre label ‘literary journalism’ shall refer to bi-referential works that testify to the productivity and constructivity of a genre in which the worlds of fact and fiction are transformed into a qualitatively altogether novel union.Moreover, literary journalism is conditioned by what James Phelan (2007, 217) calls the ethics of ‘global referentiality’.Global referentiality means that everything in the story, from people to places and events, has a referent in the actual world, and thus an existence independent of the narrative.


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