1st Edition

Death in Contemporary Popular Culture

Edited By Adriana Teodorescu, Michael Hviid Jacobsen Copyright 2020
    264 Pages
    by Routledge

    264 Pages
    by Routledge

    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.

    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



    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.