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The Celebration of Death in Contemporary Culture (Hardback)
  • The Celebration of Death in Contemporary Culture (Hardback)
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The Celebration of Death in Contemporary Culture (Hardback)

(author)
£54.95
Hardback 272 Pages / Published: 28/02/2017
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The Celebration of Death in Contemporary Culture investigates the emergence and meaning of the cult of death. Over the last three decades, Halloween has grown to rival Christmas in its popularity; dark tourism has emerged as a rapidly expanding industry; and funerals have become less traditional. "Corpse chic" and "skull style" have entered mainstream fashion, while the influence of slasher movies and other extreme genres-such as gothic and horror movies and torture porn-is evident in more conventional recent films. Monsters have become pop culture heroes: vampires, zombies, and serial killers now appeal broadly to audiences of all ages. This book considers, for the first time, these phenomena as aspects of a single movement, documenting its development in contemporary Western culture.

Previous considerations of our fixation on death have not developed a convincing theory linking the mounting demand for images of violent death and the dramatic changes in death-related social rituals and practices. This book offers a conceptual framework that connects the observations of the simulated world of fiction and movies-including The Twilight Saga, The Vampire Diaries, Hannibal, and the Harry Potter series-to social and cultural practices, providing an analysis of the specific aesthetics and the intellectual and historical conditions that triggered the cult of death. It also considers the celebration of death in the context of a longstanding critique of humanism and investigates the role played by twentieth-century French theory, as well as by posthumanism, transhumanism, and the animal rights movement, in the formation of the current antihumanist atmosphere.

This timely and thought-provoking book will appeal to general readers and scholars of cultural studies, film and literary studies, anthropology, American and Russian studies, and to anyone hoping to better understand a defining phenomenon of our age.

Publisher: The University of Michigan Press
ISBN: 9780472130269
Number of pages: 272
Weight: 522 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 25 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"Dina Khapaeva's book is a striking illustration of what thinking in the humanities can be at its very best. Starting out with the detailed description of a very unlikely situation in our cultural present, i.e. the tension between a general denial of death as existentially inevitable and a 'neo-gothic' fascination with death as a multifaceted object of entertainment, she develops a plausible and then increasingly convincing hypothesis. In her reading, this configuration becomes the symptom of a radical and historically new leveling of the traditional hierarchy between humans, animals, and things. I have never followed 'riskful thinking' practiced in a more productive way."
--Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, Stanford University



"Khapaeva's book is a deeply thoughtful, clear account of how our culture deals with death, bringing it up close in new literary, film, ritual, and folk art forms. However disturbed we are, we cannot look away, and Khapaeva asks if we have perhaps slipped too deeply into these new kinds of macabre fascination."
--Melvin Konner, Emory University



"Taking on the darkest themes of the contemporary nightmarish fascination with death and the undead in Russia and America, Dina Kapaeva moves beyond sociology and psychology to demonstrate how the fictional representations of vampires and other monsters in literature and film undermine central concepts of humanism. Rather than simply a celebration or sublimation of violence, the current cult of death reduces the relevance and centrality of human beings, rationalism, and religion. Lucidly written, her exploration is full of original insights beautifully revealed in investigations of cases from the Twilight Saga to Harry Potter. "
--Ronald Grigor Suny, University of Michigan


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