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Recuber Discusses Disaster Tourism; Consuming Catastrophe Reviewed


Timothy Recuber
Timothy Recuber

Visiting Assistant Professor of Communication Timothy Recuber was quoted extensively on disaster tourism in a Nov. 30 article appearing on SFGate, the website of the San Francisco Chronicle. Saying that not all visitors to scenes of devastation are disrespectful or fascinated by the spectacle, Recuber contends it could be that they just need to see things for themselves—that they won’t get as much out of someone else’s interpretation of a historical event.

“I think it comes from a genuine desire to understand disasters of this magnitude that are hard to grasp otherwise,” he said. “It’s hard to be affected by a tragedy without some sense of its reality.”

Recuber is the author of Consuming Catastrophe: Mass Culture in America’s Decade of Disaster, published in 2016 by Temple University Press. The book focuses on the media’s coverage of several disasters, including the 9/11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina, the Virginia Tech shootings, and the 2008 financial crisis, and how emotions may influence and be influenced by that coverage. Two new reviews of the book were recently published.

In the October issue of the Journal of Communication, Stephanie Craft of the University of Illinois called Consuming Catastrophe “an insightful, innovative, interesting foray into mass media and disaster that could—and should—spark further scholarly attention, especially employing the empathetic hedonism construct Recuber has developed.”

In Journalism, Appalachian State University’s Mildred Perreault described Consuming Catastrophe as rich in detail, saying that each chapter “is a complete study with substantial method, findings, and discussion [that] creates its own strong narrative about consumption of catastrophe and the culture Americans have developed as a result of the lens provided by the 11 September attacks.”

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