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Pandemics and the Media

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Marina Levina

Offering a comprehensive analysis of mediated representations of global pandemics, this book engages with the construction, management, and classification of difference in the global context of a pandemic, to address what it means – culturally, politically, and economically – to live in an infected, diseased body. Marina Levina argues that mediated representations are essential in translating and making sense of difference as a category of subjectivity and as a mode of organizing and distributing change. Using textual analysis of media texts on pandemics and disease, she illustrates how they represent a larger mediascape that drafts stories of global instabilities and global health. Levina explains how the stories we tell about disease matter; that the media is instrumental in constructing and disseminating these stories; and that mediated narratives of pandemics are rooted in global flows of policies, commerce, and populations. Pandemics are, by definition, global crises.

«‘Pandemics and the Media’ deftly examines the intersection of politics, popular culture, economics, and technology to provide insight into the global preoccupation with pandemics. Marina Levina­ investigates the moral implications and cautionary tales underwriting fears of contamination, carefully scrutinizing how meaning is crafted and circulated through various media. The provocative case studies explore everything from the promiscuous bites of vampires to the geopolitical panic of zombie narratives to the fragility of national security in popular films about contagions.» (Jeffrey Bennett, author of ‘Banning Queer Blood: Rhetorics of Citizenship, Contagion, and Resistance’)
«In this exceptionally well-researched and thoughtful book, Marina Levina reminds us that pandemics tell us as much about culture, economic relations, and political commitments as they do about any ‘brute facts’ of the biological body. And those commitments matter. During a time when we see growing disparities in the distribution of basic material resources and when fear of contagion is used to justify policies and interventions based on implicit notions of the body as a racialized and sexualized threat, we need the kind of courageous scholarship that ‘Pandemics and the Media’ exemplifies. Levina’s intellectual engagement with our most fundamental beliefs about risk, vulnerability, the normal, and the pathological is a necessary first step toward realizing a critical, affirmative biopolitics.» (Kelly Happe, author of ‘The Material Gene: Gender, Race, and Heredity after the Human Genome Project’)

«‘Pandemics and the Media’ deftly examines the intersection of politics, popular culture, economics, and technology to provide insight into the global preoccupation with pandemics. Marina Levina­ investigates the moral implications and cautionary tales underwriting fears of contamination, carefully scrutinizing how meaning is crafted and circulated through various media. The provocative case studies explore everything from the promiscuous bites of vampires to the geopolitical panic of zombie narratives to the fragility of national security in popular films about contagions.» (Jeffrey Bennett, author of ‘Banning Queer Blood: Rhetorics of Citizenship, Contagion, and Resistance’)
«In this exceptionally well-researched and thoughtful book, Marina Levina reminds us that pandemics tell us as much about culture, economic relations, and political commitments as they do about any ‘brute facts’ of the biological body. And those commitments matter. During a time when we see growing disparities in the distribution of basic material resources and when fear of contagion is used to justify policies and interventions based on implicit notions of the body as a racialized and sexualized threat, we need the kind of courageous scholarship that ‘Pandemics and the Media’ exemplifies. Levina’s intellectual engagement with our most fundamental beliefs about risk, vulnerability, the normal, and the pathological is a necessary first step toward realizing a critical, affirmative biopolitics.» (Kelly Happe, author of ‘The Material Gene: Gender, Race, and Heredity after the Human Genome Project’)