Culture of Survival

In this new book project, I argue that survival is culturally-inscribed concept rather than a simple matter of will or luck. Our post-modern preoccupation with “survival” and the idealization of the “survivor” is a recent phenomenon, one that would have been foreign to the eighteenth-century writers and thinkers I have spent the last 20 years studying. Through a study of various narratives of survival (explorer survivors, cancer survivors, survivalists, the survivors that live to grace the pages of Outside, the faux survivors of the CBS show of the same name), I position our contemporary understanding of the human lifespan in the context of first, empire and exploration, secondly various contexts that define this identity category (extreme sports, the cancer community, the hemophilia community, the deaf community, the Irish), and finally, the apocalyptic fears that have redefined the significance of what it means to “survive” for recent generations.