Death in Contemporary Popular Culture  book cover
1st Edition

Death in Contemporary Popular Culture

ISBN 9780367185855
Published November 28, 2019 by Routledge
264 Pages

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Book Description

With intense and violent portrayals of death becoming ever more common on television and in cinema and the growth of death-centric movies, series, texts, songs, and video clips attracting a wide and enthusiastic global reception, we might well ask whether death has ceased to be a taboo. What makes thanatic themes so desirable in popular culture? Do representations of the macabre and gore perpetuate or sublimate violent desires? Has contemporary popular culture removed our unease with death? Can social media help us cope with our mortality, or can music and art present death as an aesthetic phenomenon? This volume adopts an interdisciplinary approach to the discussion of the social, cultural, aesthetic, and theoretical aspects of the ways in which popular culture understands, represents, and manages death, bringing together contributions from around the world focused on television, cinema, popular literature, social media and the internet, art, music, and advertising.

Table of Contents

List of contributors

Preface and acknowledgements

Introduction: death as a topic in contemporary popular culture

Adriana Teodorescu and Michael Hviid Jacobsen

Part 1 Collective attitudes towards and responses to death and mortality

1 Thoughts for the times on the death taboo: trivialization, tivolization, and re-domestication in the age of spectacular death

Michael Hviid Jacobsen

2 ‘A stark and lonely death’: representations of dying alone in popular culture

Glenys Caswell

3 Celebrity deaths and the thanatological imagination

Ruth Penfold-Mounce

4 The penguin and the wahine: shipwrecks, resilience, and popular culture

Ruth Mcmanus, Denise Blake, and David Johnston

Part 2 Aesthetical aspects and mythical structures

5 Healing comes from paradise: illness, cures, and the staving off of death in naturist remedies advertising

Cristina Douglas

6 The aesthetics of corpses in popular culture

Devaleena Kundu

7 Into the dark side of pop art: from Warhol to Banksy

Florina Codreanu

8 Towards a cultural theory of killing: the event of killing in Quentin Tarantino’s movies

Martin Bartelmus

Part 3 Death as a significant narrative device

9 ‘The radio said, "there’s another shot dead"’: popular culture, ‘rebel’ songs, and death in Irish memory

E. Moore Quinn

10 Locating death in children’s animated films

Panagiotis Pentaris

11 Death in Don Delillo’s white noise: a literary diagnosis of contemporary death culture

Michael Hviid Jacobsen and Nicklas Runge

12 Narratives of death and immortality in the ‘Islamic State’ discourse on Twitter

Adriana Teodorescu


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Adriana Teodorescu is Associate Lecturer in the Faculty of Sociology at Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania. She is the editor of Death within the Text: Social, Philosophical and Aesthetic Approaches to Literature, Death Representations in Literature. Forms and Theories and co-editor of Dying and Death in 18th–21st Century Europe and Dying and Death in 18th–21st Century Europe: Volume 2 .

Michael Hviid Jacobsen is Professor of Sociology at Aalborg University, Denmark. He is the editor of The Poetics of Crime and Postmortal Society and co-editor of The Sociology of Zygmunt Bauman, Encountering the Everyday, The Transformation of Modernity, Utopia: Social Theory and the Future, Liquid Criminology , Emotions and Crime: Towards a Criminology of the Emotions, Exploring Grief: Towards a Sociology of Sorrow, and Imaginative Methodologies: The Poetic Imagination in the Social Sciences.