The University of Wisconsin Press

Popular Culture


Paranoia, the Bomb, and 1950s Science Fiction Films
Cyndy Hendershot

Popular Press

Cyndy Hendershot argues that 1950s science fiction films open a window on the cultural paranoia that characterized 1950s America, a phenomenon largely triggered by use of nuclear weapons during World War II. This study uses psychoanalytic theory to examine the various monsters that inhabit 1950s sci-fi movies—giant insects, prehistoric creatures, mutants, uncanny doubles, to name a few—which serve as metaphorical embodiments of a varied and complex cultural paranoia. Postwar paranoia may have stemmed from the bomb, but it came to correlate with a wider range of issues such as anti-communism, internal totalitarianism, scientific progress, domestic problems, gender roles, and sexuality.

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Cyndy Hendershot, at the time of publishing, was an assistant professor of English at Arkansas State University.

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Book cover is red and yellow with a picture of men.

Published in 1999
LC: 99-026483 PN
174 pp.   6 x 9
10 b/w photos

The cloth edition, ISBN-13: 978-0-87972-800-7, is out of print. A paper edition reprint of, ISBN-13: 978-0-87972-800-7 is forthcoming.

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Updated September 14, 2011

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