Date of Award

Fall 12-16-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Chris Kocela

Second Advisor

Pearl McHaney

Third Advisor

Jay Rajiva


This dissertation charts the evolution of surveillance as presented in twentieth and twenty-first century American and Global Anglophone literature and television. It analyzes six exemplary works: 1984, The Circle, Black Mirror, Purity, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, and The Lowland. It seeks to move beyond the scope of Benthamite and Foucauldian approaches to surveillance studies in order to examine the post-panoptic structures of the synopticon and the banopticon. To this end, this dissertation argues the six illustrative works mentioned above help underscore the shift from the few watching the many to the many watching the few. It seeks to explain the paradox whereby the televisual capabilities have never been more powerful yet the need for them has been rendered superfluous by an attitudinal, paradigmatic shift in western society. Finally, this dissertation endeavors to explain how literature productively complicates the issue of watching and how, paradoxically, we have never been better connected while simultaneously never been more alone. It posits another paradox as a solution: that we can know someone better by reading their words than by connecting with them through “social media.”

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