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States of Rage

On Cultural Emotion and Social Change

Renee Curry

Publication Year: 1996

States of Rage permeate our culture and our daily lives. From the anti-Catholic protests of ACT-UP to the political posturing of Al Sharpton, from the LA Riots to anti-abortion gunmen murdering clinic personnel, the unleashing of rage, marginalized or institutional, has translated into dead bodies on our campuses and city streets, in our public buildings and in our homes. Rage seems to have gained a currency in the past decade which it previously did not possess. Suddenly we appear willing to employ it more often to describe our own or others' mental states or actions. Rage succinctly describes an ongoing emotional state for many residents and citizens of the United States and elsewhere.

States of Rage gathers for the first time a critical mass of writing about rage--its function, expression, and utilities. It examines rage as a cultural phenomenon, delineating its use and explaining why this emotional state increasingly intrudes into our social, artistic, and academic existences. What is the relationship between rage and power(lessness)? How does rage relate to personal or social injustice? Can we ritualize rage or is it always spontaneous? Finally, what provokes rage and what is provocative about it? Essays shed light on the psychological and social origins of rage, its relationship to the self, its connection to culture, and its possible triggers.

The volume includes chapters on violence in the workplace, the Montreal massacre, female murderers, the rage of African- American filmmakers, rage as a reaction to persecution, the rage of AIDS activists, class rage, and rage in the academy.

Published by: NYU Press


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pp. c-ii

Title Page

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p. iii-iii

Copyright Page

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p. iv-iv


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

We would like to acknowledge receipt of a California State University San Marcos Affirmative Action Grant and a California State University San Marcos Multicultural Center Grant, both of which enabled us to conduct the RAGE! Across the Disciplines Conference, July, 1993. We...


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pp. ix-xii

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INTRODUCTION: Invitation to Rage

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pp. 1-12

In our daily consumption of media, "rage," "outrage," "enraged" increasingly appear in print or are splashed at us from our televisions and radios. Rage appears to define the daily existence of some groups in the United States;1 further, our own experience suggests that few individuals in our media-dominated culture fail to encounter en-, out-, or just...

PART I Social Constructions of Rage

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CHAPTER 1 Female Lives, Feminist Deaths: The Relationship of the Montreal Massacre to Dissociation, Incest, and Violence against Women

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pp. 15-34

On Wednesday, December 6, 1989 a young man, 25 years old, product of a violent home, failed military candidate and lover of war films, entered the University of Montreal's School of Engineering building. He was not a student, although he had once studied for admission to the school. He was carrying a .223 calibre semi-automatic rifle.1 It was a little after 5:00 p.m...

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CHAPTER 2 Violence, the Emotionally Enraged Employee, and the Workplace: Managerial Considerations

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pp. 35-61

In 1986 in Edmond, Oklahoma, postal worker Patrick Henry Sherrill fatally shot fourteen persons, wounded six others, and committed suicide at the U.S. Post Office, after being reprimanded by his supervisor and told that he would receive a poor performance report.1 Sherrill's...

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CHAPTER 3 Over His Dead Body: Female Murderers, Female Rage, and Western Culture

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pp. 62-73

Unspeakable female rage, when enacted, expresses the darkest, deepest secrets of Western patriarchal order. The first thought that probably comes to mind when people hear about a woman who has committed murder is that a crime against nature has occurred. That is, primarily a crime against her culturally prescribed nature. Somehow, almost nothing...

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CHAPTER 4 Fuck Community, or Why I Support Gay-Bashing

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pp. 74-88

I am sick and tired of hearing these matter-of-fact references to "the gay community," as if everyone knows what this community is, as if everyone is included in it, as if everyone wants to be included—or should want to be. If I hear another reference to "the community" or "the gay community," I am going to scream. I direct my rage as much against...

PART II Artistic and Cultural Representations of Rage

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CHAPTER 5 Whatup in the 'Hood?: The Rage of African-American Filmmakers

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pp. 91-106

In his 1989 film, Do the Right Thing, Spike Lee imitated life by borrowing from the infamous Howard Beach incident where whites beat African-Americans for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. In the film, the protagonist Mookie (played by Lee) sets off the climactic burning and looting of Sal's Pizzeria by shouting "Hate!" and throwing...

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CHAPTER 6 Rage and Remembrance: The AIDS Plays

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pp. 107-125

As the incidence of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome has spread, the literature dealing with or focusing on the disease has burgeoned. Ironically, at the same time that the virus is killing many men and women around the world, the body of literature surrounding AIDS seems to be growing with alacrity; as people sicken and die, the words flourish and live....

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CHAPTER 7 The Aesthetic Politics of Rage

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pp. 126-145

In Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte, in a sudden textual turn from narrative to argument, interpolates a passage on the need for action in women's lives:

It is vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquility; they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it....

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CHAPTER 8 "All Anger and Understanding": Kureishi, Culture, and Contemporary Constructions of Rage

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pp. 146-166

Hanif Kureishi commits himself to the representation of rage as vital narrative force when depicting oppression in film and in literature. Since Kureishi works both in film and in literature and presents rage as a multi-issue, multicultural concern, he provides an exemplary representation of the current artistic engagement with rage. Kureishi describes the...

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CHAPTER 9 The Psychohistory of Jewish Rage and Redemption as Seen through Its Art

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pp. 167-178

Jews are people. Whatever the psychodynamics of people may be can be applied to Jews as well. This is pretty obvious, but the most difficult thing to see is the obvious. As deMause suggests, "Psychohistory is more a rediscovery than a discovery—it is a process of finding out what we already know and act upon."1...

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CHAPTER 10 Aborted Rage in Beth Henley's Women

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pp. 179-194

Beth Henley's tragicomedies study the effects of the feminist movement upon a few, mostly proletarian women in rural Mississippi, who are more likely to read Glamour than Cixous and Clement's The Newly Born Woman.1 We are invited to sympathize with isolated heroines whose fantasies demonstrate the difficulty of conceiving female subjectivity...

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CHAPTER 11 My Words to Victor Frankenstein above the Village of Chamounix: Performing Transgender Rage

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pp. 195-216

The following work is a textual adaptation of a performance piece originally presented at "Rage! Across the Disciplines," an arts, humanities, and social sciences conference held June 10-12, 1993, at California State University, San Marcos. The interdisciplinary nature of the conference, its theme, and the organizers' call for both performances and...

PART III Rage in the Academy

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CHAPTER 12 Class Matters: Symbolic Boundaries and Cultural Exclusion

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pp. 219-229

"I believe this community is a hard-hat community and very few hard hats take in Shakespeare. They're more Oklahoma types. I'd like to see [the company do] more things that the citizens of Garden Grove would come out to." So reasoned City Councilman Raymond T. Littrell, as he and other members of the council in my hometown of Garden Grove,...

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CHAPTER 13 Second-Rate or Second-Rank: The Human Pyramid of Academe

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pp. 230-244

The academe, in the United States and elsewhere, is a human pyramid bound together by capitalist hypocrisy. A limited number of elite institutions perch on the precipitous tip of this pyramid like captains of industry, dominating the preponderance of resources, while the bulk of, in James Sosnoski's term, "Token Professionals" labor and sweat at the...

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CHAPTER 14 The Rage of Innocents: On Casting the First Stone in a Sea of Cultural Pain

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pp. 245-264

Within the walls of academia, most all of us feel ourselves to have become casualties in the war over political correctness. Some PC proponents have lost their jobs for their fight for cultural parity. A few PC-opponents may have lost their jobs for their resistance or lack of compliance with the new trends within the academy. Many have been...


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pp. 265-bc

E-ISBN-13: 9780814723692
E-ISBN-10: 0814723691
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814715307
Print-ISBN-10: 0814715303

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 1996

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Violence -- United States.
  • Anger -- United States.
  • Social change -- United States.
  • Mass media -- Social aspects -- United States.
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