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Crash Cultures: Modernity, Mediation and the Material

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Since Princess Diana's car crash in August 1997, media interest in the crash as an event needing explanation has proliferated. A glut of documentaries on television have investigated the social and scientific history of our responses to the car crash, as well as showing the personal impact of the crash on individual lives. In trying to give meaning to one celebrity crash, the more general significance of the car crash, its challenge to rational control or explanation, its disregard for the subject and its will, became the focus for attention. Coincidentally, the two of the most noteworthy films of 1997 were David Cronenberg's "Crash" and James Cameron's "Titanic", both of which generated immense popular interest. The principal purpose of this collection of essays is to subject texts, within which crashes figure, to well-defined cultural study. The themes that emerge from this collection, which is experimental in attempting to draw together the resources for a cultural study of events, are many and varied. Moreover, they vary in format, in order to bring as many modes of address as possible to bear on the crashes that catastrophically and fantastically punctuate the fabric of everyday life. Chapters include: "Will it Smash? Modernity and the Fear of Falling"; "Eye-Hunger: Physical Pleasure and Non-Narrative Cinema"; "Crash: Cyborg Ontology and the Autodestruction of Metaphor"; "Negative Dialectics of the Desert Crash in 'The English Patient'"; "Of Hallowed Spacings: Diana's Crash as Heterotopia"; and "Fuel, Metal and Air: The Appearances and Disappearances of Amelia Earhart".

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