On the Verge of Tears
The idea for this book began with David Lavery's 2007 column for flowtv.org. ",The Crying Game: Why Television Brings Us to Tears", asked us to consider that ",age-old mystery",: tears. The respondents to David's initial survey-Michele Byers among them-didn't agree on anything ... Some cried more over film, some television, some books, some felt their tears to be a release, others to be a manipulation. They did agree, however, as did the readers who responded to the column, that crying over stories, and even ",things,", is something that is a shared and familiar cultural practice. This book was born from that moment of recognition.On the Verge of Tears is not the first book to think about crying. Tom Lutz's Crying: The Natural & Cultural History of Tears, Judith Kay Nelson's Seeing Through Tears: Crying and Attachment, Peter Schwenger's The Tears of Things: Melancholy and Physical Objects, and Henry Jenkins' The Wow Climax: Tracing the Emotional Impact of Popular Culture also offer forays into this familiar, if not always entirely comfortable, emotional space. This book differs markedly from each of these others, however. As a collection of essay by diverse hands, its point of view is multi-vocal. It is not a history of tears (as is Lutz's superb book), nor is its approach psychological/sociological (as is Nelson's). It does not limit itself to very contemporary popular culture (as does Jenkins' book) or material culture (as does Schwenger's study).What On the Verge of Tears offers are personal, cultural, and political ruminations on the tears we shed in our daily engagements with the world and its artifacts. The essays found within are often deeply personal, but also have broad implications for everyday life. The authors included here contemplate how and why art, music, film, literature, theatre, theory, and material artifacts make us weep. They consider the risks of tears in public and private spaces, the way tears implicate us in tragedy, comedy, and horror. On the Verge of Tears does not offer a unified theory of crying, but, instead, invites us to imagine tears as a multi-vocal language we can all, in some manner, understand.
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