Consuming Catastrophe: Mass Culture in America’s Decade of Disaster, by Visiting Assistant Professor of Communication Tim Recuber, was published by Temple University Press last week. The book focuses on the media’s coverage of four disasters – the 9/11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina, the Virginia Tech shootings and the 2008 financial crisis.
Recuber argues that media attention directs our concern for the suffering of others toward efforts to soothe our own emotional turmoil. He explains how an emotional connection to the victims can become a crucial element in the creation, use and consumption of mass mediation of disasters.
According to the publisher’s website, Recuber “presents a unique and provocative look at how these four very different disasters took a similar path through public consciousness. He explores the myriad ways we engage with and negotiate our feelings about disasters and tragedies—from omnipresent media broadcasts to relief fund efforts and promises to ‘Never Forget.’”
George Mason University Professor of History Peter Stearns called Consuming Catastrophe “a fascinating contemporary-historical analysis of a cluster of major recent disasters, complete with exploitation, media roles, and ‘authentic’ emotions.”
Andrea Press, professor of media studies and sociology at the University of Virginia said, “Creative, learned, and singular in its perspective on interpreting catastrophe and its coverage, Consuming Catastrophe is a fresh take on an increasingly important issue.”