On a cold February morning in 1987, amidst freezing rain and driving winds, a group of protesters stood outside of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Amherst, Massachusetts. The target of their protest was the minister inside, who was handing out condoms to his congregation while delivering a sermon about AIDS, dramatizing the need for the church to confront the seemingly ever-expanding crisis. The minister's words and actions were met with a standing ovation from the overflowing audience, but he could not linger to enjoy their applause. Having received threats in advance of the service, he dashed out of the sanctuary immediately upon finishing his sermon. Such was the climate for religious AIDS activism in the 1980s. In After the Wrath of God, Anthony Petro vividly narrates the religious history of AIDS in America. Delving into the culture wars over sex, morality, and the future of the American nation, he demonstrates how religious leaders and AIDS activists have shaped debates over sexual morality and public health from the 1980s to the present day. While most attention to religion and AIDS foregrounds the role of the Religious Right, Petro takes a much broader view, encompassing the range of mainline Protestant, evangelical, and Catholic groups--alongside AIDS activist organizations--that shaped public discussions of AIDS prevention and care in the U.S. Petro analyzes how the AIDS crisis prompted American Christians across denominations and political persuasions to speak publicly about sexuality--especially homosexuality--and to foster a moral discourse on sex that spoke not only to personal concerns but to anxieties about the health of the nation. He reveals how the epidemic increased efforts to advance a moral agenda regarding the health benefits of abstinence and monogamy, a legacy glimpsed as much in the traction gained by abstinence education campaigns as in the more recent cultural purchase of gay marriage. The first book to detail the history of religion and the AIDS epidemic in the U.S., After the Wrath of God is essential reading for anyone concerned with the intersection of religion and public health.
Pursuing Privacy in Cold War America explores the relationship between confessional poetry and constitutional privacy doctrine, both of which emerged at the end of the 1950s. While the public declarations of the Supreme Court and the private declamations of the lyric poet may seem unrelated, both express the upheavals in American notions of privacy that marked the Cold War era. Nelson situates the poetry and legal decisions as part of a far wider anxiety about privacy that erupted across the social, cultural, and political spectrum during this period. She explores the panic over the "death of privacy" aroused by broad changes in postwar culture: the growth of suburbia, the advent of television, the popularity of psychoanalysis, the arrival of computer databases, and the spectacles of confession associated with McCarthyism. Examining this interchange between poetry and law at its most intense moments of reflection in the 1960s, '70s, and '80s, Deborah Nelson produces a rhetorical analysis of a privacy concept integral to postwar America's self-definition and to bedrock contradictions in Cold War ideology. Nelson argues that the desire to stabilize privacy in a constitutional right and the movement toward confession in postwar American poetry were not simply manifestations of the anxiety about privacy. Supreme Court justices and confessional poets such as Anne Sexton, Robert Lowell, W. D. Snodgrass, and Sylvia Plath were redefining the nature of privacy itself. Close reading of the poetry alongside the Supreme Court's shifting definitions of privacy in landmark decisions reveals a broader and deeper cultural metaphor at work.
To be fat hasn’t always occasioned the level of hysteria that this condition receives today and indeed was once considered an admirable trait. Fat Shame: Stigma and the Fat Body in American Culture explores this arc, from veneration to shame, examining the historic roots of our contemporary anxiety about fatness. Tracing the cultural denigration of fatness to the mid 19th century, Amy Farrell argues that the stigma associated with a fat body preceded any health concerns about a large body size. Firmly in place by the time the diet industry began to flourish in the 1920s, the development of fat stigma was related not only to cultural anxieties that emerged during the modern period related to consumer excess, but, even more profoundly, to prevailing ideas about race, civilization and evolution. For 19th and early 20th century thinkers, fatness was a key marker of inferiority, of an uncivilized, barbaric, and primitive body. This idea—that fatness is a sign of a primitive person—endures today, fueling both our $60 billion “war on fat” and our cultural distress over the “obesity epidemic.” Farrell draws on a wide array of sources, including political cartoons, popular literature, postcards, advertisements, and physicians’ manuals, to explore the link between our historic denigration of fatness and our contemporary concern over obesity. Her work sheds particular light on feminisms’ fraught relationship to fatness. From the white suffragists of the early 20th century to contemporary public figures like Oprah Winfrey, Monica Lewinsky, and even the Obama family, Farrell explores the ways that those who seek to shed stigmatized identities—whether of gender, race, ethnicity or class—often take part in weight reduction schemes and fat mockery in order to validate themselves as “civilized.” In sharp contrast to these narratives of fat shame are the ideas of contemporary fat activists, whose articulation of a new vision of the body Farrell explores in depth. This book is significant for anyone concerned about the contemporary “war on fat” and the ways that notions of the “civilized body” continue to legitimate discrimination and cultural oppression.
In a single decade, AIDS has grown to pandemic proportions. The combined forces of medical research and public education have thus far failed to halt the spread of the disease, which remains mysterious, stigmatizing, and fatal. In this highly original study, Susan Palmer explores the healing practices, metaphors, and apocalyptic fantasies of various religious, racial, and sexual minority groups as they respond to the AIDS threat. Palmer looks at the response to AIDS by specific groups as diverse as white and black identity movements, gay spirituality circles, communal and millenarian cults, and sci-fi and horror films. Her study reveals a proliferation of AIDS metaphors that refer variously to medieval plagues, social disorder, decline of the nuclear family, and supernatural powers. She argues that the human body tends to become a symbol that mirrors the social body, and she finds this process especially dramatic in persecuted marginal groups. Well known as a researcher and writer on new religious movements in Europe and North America, Susan Palmer brings experience and insight to this study of the metaphors surrounding alternative spirituality and sexuality.
From accounts of the Holocaust, to representations of AIDS, to predictions of environmental disaster; from Hal Lindsey's fundamentalist 1970s bestseller The Late Great Planet Earth, to Francis Fukuyama's The End of History and the Last Man in 1992, the sense of apocalypse is very much with us. In Postmodern Apocalypse, Richard Dellamora and his contributors examine apocalypse in works by late twentieth-century writers, filmmakers, and critics.
Several socio-economic, ethical, legal, political and cultural issues have arisen because of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. This anthology discusses the cultural ramifications that undermine HIV/AIDS education through the contributions of the following scholars: Caroline Blair, David Ojakaa, S.A. Ochola, Dishon Gogi, Marietta Federici-LaFarge, Frank Machlica, Davidson C. Umeh, Gerjo Kok, Harm J. Hospers, John B.F. De Wit, Lynn Morrison, Sepali Guruge, Kabahenda Nyakabwa, Jerome Okafor, Tim Rodgers, Howard Stevenson, Helen M. Rupp, Minakshi Tikoo, Charles B.U. Uwakwe, Ralph DiClemente, Gina M. Wingood, Nora K. Bell, Ifeanyi Emenike and Gust A. Yep. They discussed cultural implications and specific HIV / AIDS education strategies for women, men, adolescents, gays, people living with HIV/AIDS in the following communities: American-Indian, African-American, Asian-American, White-American, Kenyan, Ugandan, Nigerian, Indian, Dutch and athletes. This book will be of great significance to students and scholars in anthropology, medicine, nursing, psychology, health, education, sociology, and women's studies. The authors provide much insight into community dynamics, social relationships and group norms which are important in the development of effective education programs for HIV/AIDS.