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Mikita Brottman

Related: Headpress - "high" culture - High Theory / Low Culture - "low" culture

In PopMatters' “Sub Rosa”, Mikita Brottman pokes around in the margins and undergrowth of popular culture, performing autopsies on the overlooked, the esoteric, the pathological, and the arcane. By daylight, she teaches Humanities at the Maryland Institute College of Art; by night, she writes unpleasant books about cannibals and car crashes. She lives with boyfriend and bulldog in the old Belvedere hotel in Baltimore. Her website is available here.

Offensive Films (1997) by Mikita Brottman [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK] [...]

Funny Peculiar: Gershon Legman and the Psychopathology of Humor (2004) by Mikita Brottman [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK] [...]


Mikita Brottman was born and raised in Sheffield, England. She has a PhD in English Language and Literature from Oxford University, and has taught in various universities in Europe and the U.S. Her main field of research interest is the pathological impulse in contemporary culture; she has authored and edited a number of books on this subject, including, most recently, High Theory, Low Culture. She writes regularly for a number of publications, both mainstream and alternative, and is also a psychoanalyst in private practice. --http://www.mica.edu/FACULTY_DIRECTORY/index.cfm?faculty_id=157 [Aug 2005]

Offensive Films (1997) by Mikita Brottman

Review of the 1997 edition
“Classic cinema studies of film eschew the disreputable and marginal films that Brottman showcases in this anthropological investigation. Her primary justification for dealing with films that disgust, appall, and nauseate is that such aesthetic rejects reveal symptoms of a nervous cultural disorder, a sickness unto death underlying the unconscious of mainstream cinema. Brottman dissects this cadaverous body of film from the readerly perspective of consumption, rather than of production.”–Choice

Book Description of the 1997 edition
The films discussed in this book have been labeled cinema vomitif because they induce a visceral response in their audience. They are an underground hybrid of slasher movies, exploitation films, and shock-u-mentaries. Taking a serious look at a taboo subject, Brottman argues that these scandalous films are of far more substance than has been previously assumed. Their consistent appeal to our repressed appetites, libidinal instincts, and fascination with flesh and death has much to tell us about the human condition. Films analyzed include the voyeuristic Freaks (1932), the traumatic psychodrama The Tingler (1959), the succes de scandale The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1976), the Italian shocker Cannibal Holocaust (1983), and two recent series of "live death" shock-u-mentaries, Death Scenes and Faces of Death (1989-1994). These movies, shunned from mainstream cinema because they are too offensive, obscene, marginal or bizarre, are considered here for the first time as an important part of the cinematic canon.

Synopsis of the 2005 edition
Brottman offers a study of movies so offensive, that some are practically unwatchable. From the ever-popular "Faces of Death" movies to purported snuff films, from classic B-movies such as "The Tingler", to more popular but no less controversial films such as "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", Brottman takes a wide-eyed look at movies most folks watch only through parted fingers. Part anthropology, part psychoanalysis, "Offensive Films" vivisects these movies in order to figure out just what about them is so offensive, obscene, or bizarre. --via Amazon.co.uk

Science Fiction Studies
"Consistently witty and intelligent, informed by a cheerful nihilism. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it."

". . . for those called to be diagnostic morticians of a sick culture. Not recommended for the faint."

The history of the slasher film has also been explored by Mikita Brottman in her book Offensive Films : Toward an Anthropology of Cinema Vomitif.

See also: slasher film - offensive - film

Funny Peculiar: Gershon Legman and the Psychopathology of Humor (2004) by Mikita Brottman

Book Description
Why are jokes funny? Why do we laugh? In Funny Peculiar, Mikita Brottman demurs from recent scholarship that takes laughter – and the broader domain of humor and the comical -- as a liberating social force and an endearing aspect of self-expression. For Brottman, there is nothing funny about laughter, which is less connected to mirth and feelings of good will than to a nexus of darker emotions: fear, aggression, shame, anxiety. Brottman rethinks not only the mechanisms of humor but the relation of humor to the body and the senses. To this end, she provides an engrossing account of the life and work of Gershon Legman, exiled author, publisher, and sexologist, Alfred Kinsey’s first bibliographer, and legendary compiler of the dirty joke. Like Freud, Legman was convinced of the impossibility of understanding humor apart from sex, and Brottman shows how his two massive works on the subject, Rationale of the Dirty Joke and No Laughing Matter, provide a framework for understanding the ambivalent and often hostile impulses that underlie the comic impulse in its various guises. In lively and enlivening chapters, she traverses dirty jokes, the figure of the "evil clown" in popular culture, the current popularity of "humor therapy," changing fashions in stand-up comedy, and the connection between humor and horror. Brottman’s sparkling prose, laced with wit, does not obscure the seriousness of Funny Peculiar. It is a thoughtful and wide-ranging elaboration of the Freudian claim that joking, in point of fact, is no laughing matter.

About the Author
Mikita Brottman, Ph.D., who earned her doctorate at Oxford University, is Professor of Language and Literature at the Maryland Institute College of Art and a candidate at the Washington Square Institute for Psychotherapy and Mental Health (NYC). She writes regularly for mainstream and alternative publications and is the author of three books on the horror film.

See also: Gershon Legman - laughter

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