Apocalypse and Heroism in Popular Culture

Allegories of White Masculinity in Crisis


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About the Book

Stories of world-ending catastrophe have featured prominently in film and television. Zombie apocalypses, climate disasters, alien invasions, global pandemics and dystopian world orders fill our screens—typically with a singular figure or tenacious group tasked with saving or salvaging the world. Why are stories of End Times crisis so popular with audiences? And why is the hero so often a white man who overcomes personal struggles and major obstacles to lead humanity toward a restored future?
This book examines the familiar trope of the hero and the recasting of contemporary anxieties in films like The Walking Dead, Snowpiercer and Mad Max: Fury Road. Some have familiar roots in Western cultural traditions yet many question popular assumptions about heroes and heroism to tell new and fascinating stories about race, gender and society and the power of individuals to change the world.

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About the Author(s)

Katherine E. Sugg is an associate professor of English at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut. She teaches and writes on world literatures, Latin and comparative American studies, and film and media.

Bibliographic Details

Katherine E. Sugg
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 238
Bibliographic Info: 13 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6785-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4566-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Introduction: White Masculinity and the Liberal Apocalypse Allegory in Popular Culture 9
One. Neoliberal Apocalypse, Capitalist Realism, and the Status of Critique in Children of Men and Mad Max: Fury Road 47
Two. Settler Colonialism, Gender, and Joss Whedon’s Firefly/Serenity: The Limits of White Irony 88
Three. Crises of Masculine and Neoliberal Subjection in The Walking Dead 126
Four. Futurities and Speculative Fictions in ­Sci-Fi Cinema: Sleep Dealer and Snowpiercer 160
Conclusion. Allegory with a Vengeance in The Girl with All the Gifts 197
Chapter Notes 203
Bibliography 223
Index 229

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “…an excellent contribution to feminist theory, film & media studies, settler colonial critique, and speculative/science fiction studies…elegantly written, beautifully theorized, and quite innovative.”—Susana Loza, associate professor of critical race, gender, and media studies at Hampshire College