Civilized Violence provides a social and historical explanation for the popular appeal of cinema violence. There is a significant amount of research on the effects of media violence, but less work on what attracts audiences to representations of violence in the first place. Drawing on historical-sociology, cultural studies, feminist and queer theory, masculinity studies and textual analysis, David Hansen-Miller explains how the exercise of violence has been concealed and denied by modern society at the same time that it retains considerable power over how we live our lives. He demonstrates how discourses of sexuality and gender, even romantic love, are freighted with the micropolitics of violence. Confronted with such contradictions, audiences are drawn to the cinema where they can see violence graphically restored to everyday life. Popular cinema holds the power to narrate and interpret social forces that have become too opaque, diffuse and dynamic to otherwise comprehend. Through detailed engagement with specific narratives from the last century of popular film - The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The Sheik, Once Upon a Time in the West, Deliverance - and the pervasive violence of contemporary cinema, Hansen-Miller investigates the manner in which representations can transform our understanding of how violence works.
'Hansen-Miller successfully brings contemporary philosophies of governmentality and biopolitics to bear on cinematic representations of violence. The result is conclusive: that cinema has throughout its history engaged in processes of subjection and subjectification through violence. By showing us this, Civilized Violence lifts the veil on cinematic representations of violence.' Richard Rushton, Lancaster University, UK 'Civilized Violence confronts the question of the attraction of the spectacle of violence in contemporary cinema in a completely fresh way. Instead of asking what the appeal of violence is Hansen-Miller asks how it works and in doing so provides cinema studies with a powerful new account of the relation between cinema and society.' Ian Buchanan, Cardiff University, UK 'This beautifully written book offers a brilliant diagnosis of our changing psychic and social investments in violent representations. Moving between sociology, film studies and feminist theory to demonstrate the centrality of gendered subjectification to our fascination with violence, this is interdisciplinary research at its very best: lucid, incisive and utterly persuasive.' Jackie Stacey, University of Manchester, UK 'Civilized Violence draws on a solid theoretical framework, built mainly on Foucault, and enters into productive dialogue with existing literature on the films. This frame allows for a fruitful and nuanced discussion of the cultural function of cinematic violence across the twentieth century. The book incorporates detailed textual analysis, a discussion of popular and critical reception of the central films and in-depth consideration of the broader social, historical and cultural contexts in which the films were produced… Civilized Violence is stylishly written, well structured and logically set out… it makes an important contribution to contemporary understandings of on-screen violence. Moving beyond simplistic notions of cinema violence as satisfying supposedly