Frances Stonor Saunders described the ideological weaponization of modern art in a 1995 article in the Independent: “For decades in art circles it was either a rumour or a joke, but now it is confirmed as a fact. The Central Intelligence Agency used American modern art—including the works of such artists as Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko—as a weapon in the Cold War.” Saunders's discovery is a favorite anecdote of postwar literary scholars because it solidifies the suspicion that aesthetics and politics were particularly intimate in mid-century America. Many critics argue that, since the Cold War was itself a largely rhetorical conflict, literary narrative took on new geopolitical import. In his seminal work, Containment Culture (1995), Alan Nadel writes: “[T]he American cold war is a particularly useful example of the power of large cultural narratives to...

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