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Paranoia, the Bomb, and 1950s Science Fiction Films
by Cyndy Hendershot
University of Wisconsin Press, 1999
Paper: 978-0-87972-800-7 | Cloth: 978-0-87972-799-4
Library of Congress Classification PN1995.9.S26H37 1999
Dewey Decimal Classification 791.43615

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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