Fear: A Cultural History
  • Fear: A Cultural History
  • Fear: A Cultural History

Fear: A Cultural History

by Joanna Bourke
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Whether we like it or not, an atmosphere of fear pervades modern culture. In America, each day is color-coded for the level of threat; newspapers fill with gloomy news of climate crisis; and the radio and TV bleat with Amber alerts, car crashes, and the war wounded.

In this groundbreaking work, award-winning historian Joanna Bourke helps us understand the

…  See more details below

Overview

Whether we like it or not, an atmosphere of fear pervades modern culture. In America, each day is color-coded for the level of threat; newspapers fill with gloomy news of climate crisis; and the radio and TV bleat with Amber alerts, car crashes, and the war wounded.

In this groundbreaking work, award-winning historian Joanna Bourke helps us understand the landscape of fear we now navigate. Her review of the past two hundred years — from diagnosed phobias to the media's role in creating new ones — prompts strikingly original observations about the mind and worldview of the “long twentieth century.” Blending sociocultural analysis with psychology, philosophy, and popular science, this beautifully written and exhaustively researched book offers an authoritative look at one of humankind's most basic emotions.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
From death and disaster to dangerous technologies, the number of things out there to fear is countless, argues British historian Bourke (An Intimate History of Killing), who surveys a pitted landscape of dread and panic over the past two centuries in this imaginative social, psychological and cultural history. She traces how what we fear changes over time as a function of broader social anxieties and stresses. In the hierarchical Britain of the early 20th century, for instance, a lower-class accent was regarded with unparalleled horror; today, no one cares. The Victorians were terrified of sudden, natural death; today, at a time when people worry about "the excessive prolongation of life after all pleasure has been removed," being killed instantly and without warning is for many the preferred way to go. For us, the most feared thing of all is the terrorist, the "equivalent to the plague of earlier times or the Satan of religion." Though Bourke performs sterling service, painstakingly picking over usually bypassed sources and materials for hidden clues as to what scares us, she indulges the fashionable fallacy that because some fears-of terrorism, for example, since 9/11-have been exaggerated and even occasionally exploited, there is therefore nothing at all to fear but, presumably, fear itself. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Originally published in Britain, this book considers things that go bump in the night and why they scare us from a social sciences perspective. Burke (history, Birkbeck Coll., London; An Intimate History of Killing) looks at our reactions to death, disasters, nightmares, combat, and nuclear threats, both real and imagined. The author uses a half-dozen or so very effective illustrations to document her discussion, including an early drawing of a "security coffin" with a cord and bell inside in case of premature burial. There is also a cartoon vision of "Panic on the Titanic," a harrowing photograph of a woman being restrained as she is taken to be lobotomized, and a child's use of a grinning devil to render terrorism. While the title and a glance at the table of contents might suggest a broad treatment of fear among different peoples through the ages, the focus is actually limited to British and American people from the 20th century to the present. Given the events of these past 100 years, however, this well-written discussion of fear and trembling is not unwelcome. Recommended for all libraries.-Ellen D. Gilbert, Princeton, NJ Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781593761547
Publisher:
Counterpoint Press
Publication date:
03/28/2007
Pages:
500
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.70(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >