Critical Approaches to Culture + Communications

A Weblog by Ron Burnett (Founded in 1994 and now celebrating 23 Years!!)

This site began as one of the first academic sites in Canada when the World Wide Web was in its early phase of development. I have maintained it through many iterations since 1994.

The Age of Six Feet Under

The title of this blog entry is also the title of a new book that I am developing for the University of Chicago Press. One of their top editors is an old friend and we have been talking about the extraordinary degree to which the contemporary environment in North America is dominated by various forms of hypochondria, paranoia and anxiety. This is more than post 9/11 worries about terrorism, although there is much to be concerned with, including the challenges of confronting the dystopic vision of modern terrorists. Hypochondria, for example, has become a social narrative, a way of talking about the world through the lenses of fear with respect to the human body, nutrition and disease.

The book will also explore the television series, which in its narrative content and character development is not only superb television, but an exploration of precisely all the issues that surround mortality, love and apprehensions of death. While these may seem to be grand themes, almost clichés, the program manages to move far beyond the rather limited story-telling 'body' of television into a profound examination of the dynamics of family life.

So, the book will be an in-depth study of the show and an exploration of of how mediascapes build the infrastructure to support anxiety in the digital age.

My intention is to provide extracts of the book on this blog as I write in order to get feedback and suggestions.