Cinematic Prophylaxis: Globalization and Contagion in the Discourse of World Health

Cinematic Prophylaxis: Globalization and Contagion in the Discourse of World Health

by Kirsten Ostherr
     
 

ISBN-10: 0822336480

ISBN-13: 9780822336488

Pub. Date: 11/16/2005

Publisher: Duke University Press Books

A timely contribution to the fields of film history, visual cultures, and globalization studies, Cinematic Prophylaxis provides essential historical information about how the representation of biological contagion has affected understandings of the origins and vectors of disease. Kirsten Ostherr tracks visual representations of the contamination of bodies

Overview

A timely contribution to the fields of film history, visual cultures, and globalization studies, Cinematic Prophylaxis provides essential historical information about how the representation of biological contagion has affected understandings of the origins and vectors of disease. Kirsten Ostherr tracks visual representations of the contamination of bodies across a range of media, including 1940s public health films; entertainment films such as 1950s alien invasion movies and the 1995 blockbuster Outbreak; television programs in the 1980s, during the early years of the aids epidemic; and the cyber-virus plagued Internet. In so doing, she charts the changes—and the alarming continuities—in popular understandings of the connection between pathologized bodies and the global spread of disease.

Ostherr presents the first in-depth analysis of the public health films produced between World War II and the 1960s that popularized the ideals of world health and taught viewers to imagine the presence of invisible contaminants all around them. She considers not only the content of specific films but also their techniques for making invisible contaminants visible. By identifying the central aesthetic strategies in films produced by the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, and other institutions, she reveals how ideas about racial impurity and sexual degeneracy underlay messages ostensibly about world health. Situating these films in relation to those that preceded and followed them, Ostherr shows how, during the postwar era, ideas about contagion were explicitly connected to the global circulation of bodies. While postwar public health films embraced the ideals of world health, they invoked a distinct and deeply anxious mode of representing the spread of disease across national borders.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780822336488
Publisher:
Duke University Press Books
Publication date:
11/16/2005
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.13(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

Table of Contents

Illustrations ix

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction: Cinema and Hygiene 1

1. Public Sphere as Petri Dish; or, “Special Case Studies of Motion Picture Theaters which are Known or Suspected to be Foci of Moral Infection” 18

2. “Noninfected but Infectible”: Contagion and the Boundaries of the Visible 47

3. From Inner to Outer Space: World Health and the Postwar Alien Invasion Film 79

4. Conspiracy and Cartography: Mapping Globalization though Epidemiology
121

5. Indexical Digital: Representing Contagion in the Postphotographic Era 155

Conclusion 192

Notes 197

Bibliography 225

Filmography 249

Index 259

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