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It scares—and titillates—in such movies as The Hand That Rocks the Cradle and Basic Instinct. It violently ended the lives of legendary artists such as Selena and John Lennon, and thousands of people endure it daily in anonymity from ex-lovers and strangers. Stalking has been a fact of human society for a surprisingly long time, yet it is only in the last two decades that the term “stalking” came into wide use throughout mass culture. Bran Nicol traces here the history of stalking and chronicles how acts of extreme obsession have created a public fixation of their own. 

This unprecedented study draws on a wealth of sources—including forensic psychology, films, literature, news reports, and cultural theory—to examine stalking as a behavior and a social phenomenon. Moving from Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa to Fatal Attraction and from Charles Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend to Taxi Driver and One Hour Photo, Nicol skillfully probes how stalking has pervaded our civilizatoin for over two hundred years. He then turns his focus to the role that stalking plays in the context of our contemporary media-saturated culture, posing provocative questions about the state of modern society: Have interpersonal relations become increasingly intense or more perverse today? Are we dealing with something truly new, or is stalking simply the latest name for an age-old form of social interaction? Stalking also examines cases of deadly obsession with celebrities, such as Jodie Foster, and explores how such fixations are fueled by mass media and the Internet.

A wholly fascinating and groundbreaking investigation into one of the extreme consequences of our hyper-connected age, Stalking provides a thorough understanding of this disturbingly compelling abnormality.

240 pages | 6 halftones | 5 3/4 x 8 3/4 | © 2006

Focus on Contemporary Issues (FOCI)

Culture Studies

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"Stalking, as a criminal offence and as an obsessive psychological state, has only recently been identified but it has a long and vivid history in literature and film from the schoolteacher Bradley Headstone in Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend to Alex Forrest, the bunny boiler in Fatal Attraction. A fascinating mix of psychology, film studies, literature and cultural theory."

Times (London)

"Sharp treatment of the idea of stalking in modern culture. . . . illuminating . . . intriguing."

Steven Poole | The Guardian

"A fascinating mix of psychology, film studies, literature, and cultural theory."

Iain Finlayson | The Times

"Short, sharp analysis of our deviant cultural psychology. . . . A good effort at rounding up his novels and movies without too much academic nattering about the patriarchy."

John Allemang | The Globe and Mail

Table of Contents

1.  What is Stalking?
2.  Stalking and Contemporary Culture
3.  Enter the Stalker
4.  Stalking and Love
5.  Stalking and Morality
List of Illustrations

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