The Unbridled Enthusiasm of Conspiracy Theory

Research output: Other contribution to conferencePresentation only


In a 1995 episode of the US television sitcom Seinfeld, Kramer does a backhand favour for his friend Elaine Benes, when he reads a manuscript she was supposed to review herself prior to an interview for a copy editor position. Kramer later provides Elaine with an eccentric summation of the manuscript asserting that is about a protagonist named 'Billy Mumphrey' whose fatal flaw was his 'unbridled enthusiasm'. Absurdly, Kramer's characterisation of the story later pays off—albeit briefly—for Elaine when, out of desperation, she repeats it in the job interview and the publisher concurs. In this paper, I argue that Kramer's humorous vision of a 'simple country boy' whose unbridled enthusiasm gets him 'mixed up in [a] high takes game of international intrigue' echoes the world of conspiracy theorising, where protagonists are similarly caught up in an unbridled enthusiasm for a fully explicable world that is in truth as chaotic as a typical Seinfeld episode. Much that has been written about conspiracy theorising and theorists foreground questions of logic and mental health. This paper suggests that literature provides a different avenue for considering this phenomenon, one where storytelling is essential to the development of counter-narratives around major events. There is often something strikingly alluring about certain conspiracy theories, especially when getting it wrong leads to imaginative, exciting and highly enthusiastic counter-narratives.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2018
EventWestern Sydney University Writing and Society Research Centre Seminar - Western Sydney University, Sydney, Australia
Duration: 18 May 201818 May 2018 (seminar information)


SeminarWestern Sydney University Writing and Society Research Centre Seminar
Abbreviated titleOn conspiracy and scandal
OtherSeries of presentations on literature
Internet address


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