Age of Anxiety: Meaning, Identity, and Politics in 21st-Century Film and Literature

Anthony M Wachs (Author) Jon D Schaff (Author)


Age of Anxiety: Meaning, Identity, and Politics in 21st Century Film and Literature analyzes literature and films that speak to our age of anxiety resulting from the decline of narratives that provided individuals with a meaningful human life. The authors argue that the twentieth-century sought to free individuals from the constraints of authoritative cultural traditions and institutions, liberating the autonomous self. Yet this has given rise to anxiety rather than liberation. Instead of deriving one's sense of purpose from one's role and place within a community, the consumer has been deceived into thinking that their identity can be purchased through the meaning represented by the conspicuous consumption of a brand. The same phenomenon manifests itself in politics within recent populist revolts against globalist politics. In addition, the rapid pace of technological development is driving an unprecedented faith in the malleability of human beings, raises doubts as to what it means to be a person. Utilizing paradigms from the fields of Communication/Rhetoric and Political Philosophy the book shows how the self has been displaced from its natural habitat of the local community. The book traces the origins of modern anxiety as well as possible remedies. Considered in the book are such popular culture artifacts as Downton Abbey, WALL-E, Hacksaw Ridge, Westworld, and Lord of the Rings and zombie films.

Product Details

Lexington Books
Publish Date
November 29, 2019
6.0 X 0.75 X 9.0 inches | 1.24 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Anthony M. Wachs is assistant professor of rhetoric, communication ethics & the Catholic intellectual tradition at Duquesne University. Jon D. Schaff is professor of political science at Northern State University.


"Connecting the dots between history, pop culture, philosophy, and the social sciences, Age of Anxiety offers important insights into the crisis of meaning we face in our affluent, individualistic, and technology-driven modern world."--Clay Routledge, North Dakota State University
"Written with clarity and urgency, Age of Anxiety reads the messages in a bottle written by a culture stranded on an island of rootless individualism. Through a thoughtful reading of popular media texts, Wachs and Schaff embark on a rescue operation to recover what it means to be human in a society that has been thrown off course by the waves of modern ideology."--Brett Robinson, University of Notre Dame and author of "Appletopia: Media Technology and the Religious Imagination of Steve Jobs"