Cultural Pessimism

Cultural Pessimism : Narratives of Decline in the Postmodern World

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Description

Cultural pessimism arises with the conviction that the culture of a nation, a civilisation or of humanity itself is in a process of irreversible decline. In an incisive and wide-ranging analysis, Cultural Pessimism: Narratives of Decline in the Postmodern World charts the growth of pessimism in the West during the last decades of the twentieth century. Drawing on studies from within a very broad range of fields, which include ecology, human rights, military history, international relations, criminology, history of science, cultural criticism and political economy, the author shows how cultural pessimism in the postmodern world can be related to the cumulative effect of four key narratives of decline: *Environmental decline *Moral decline *Intellectual decline *Political decline After a review of pessimism in other historical periods, each of these narratives is explored in depth. The book attempts to answer a number of questions: how are the narratives constituted and what are the conditions to which they refer? To what extent are those conditions historically unprecedented? To which cultures do the narratives relate? What values do they reflect? To what extent are the identified processes of decline seen as irreversible? Concluding that cultural pessimism is as much a matter of psychological and biological disposition as of intellectual judgement, Oliver Bennett's challenging book offers valuable new insights into how we view the prospects of the twenty-first century. Features: *Provides an authoritative account of how the postmodern world has been represented as one of decline. *Brings together different perspectives kept apart by professional and academic specialisation *Views culture in its broadest sense as 'a whole way of life' *Provides an historical overview of cultural pessimism, tracing its various manifestations from the modern period back to its existence in early religions *Examines the biological, psychological and sociological factors that can produce a disposition towards cultural pessimism * Written in a clear, readable style, whilst maintaining academic integrityshow more

Product details

  • Paperback | 224 pages
  • 153.7 x 230.6 x 14.2mm | 378.21g
  • EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0748609369
  • 9780748609369

About Oliver Bennett

Martin McQuillan is Professor of Literary Theory and Cultural Analysis and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Kingston University, London. His recent publications include Deconstruction After 9/11 and Roland Barthes, or, The Profession of Cultural Studies.show more

Table of contents

Contents; List of figures; Introduction; Chapter One: Environmental Decline; Chapter Two: Moral Decline: Warfare, Human Rights & the Crime Explosion; Chapter Three: Intellectual Decline: Science & Art; Chapter Four: Political Decline: The 'New' Capitalism; Chapter Five: Cultural Pessimism; Bibliography; Index.show more

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6 ratings
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