Cover of The Cancel Culture Panic by Adrian Daub
The Cancel Culture Panic
Adrian Daub

September 2024
224 pages.

Paperback ISBN: 9781503640849


Excerpts and More

Fear of cancel culture has gripped the world, and it turns out to be an old fear in a new get-up.

In this incisive new work, Adrian Daub analyzes the global spread of cancel culture discourse as a moral panic, showing that, though its object is fuzzy, talk of cancel culture in global media has become a preoccupation of an embattled liberalism. There are plenty of conservative voices who gin up worries about cancel culture to advance their agendas. But more remarkable perhaps is that it is centrist, even left-leaning, media that has taken up the rallying cry and really defined the outlines of what cancel culture is supposed to be.

Media in Western Europe, South America, Russia, and Australia have devoted as much—in some cases more—attention to this supposedly American phenomenon than most US outlets. From French crusades against "le wokisme" via British fables of the "loony left" to a German obsession with campus anecdotes to a global revolt against "gender studies": countries the world over have developed culture war narratives in conflict with the US, and, above all, its universities—narratives that they themselves borrowed from the US.

Who exactly is afraid of cancel culture? To trace how various global publics have been so quickly convinced that cancel culture exists and that it poses an existential problem, Daub compares the cancel culture panic to moral panics past, investigating the powerful hold that the idea of "being cancelled" has on readers around the world.

A book for anyone wondering how institutions of higher learning in the US have become objects of immense interest and political lightning rods; not just for audiences and voters in the US, but worldwide.

About the author

Adrian Daub is J.E. Wallace Sterling Professor in the Humanities at Stanford University, where he serves as the Faculty Director of the Clayman Institute for Gender Research. He is the author of What Tech Calls Thinking (2020) and writes for numerous US and European newspapers and magazines.

"Edifying, smart, timely, and humane, The Cancel Culture Panic is a brilliant must-read for our age."

—Kate Manne, author of Unshrinking

"This book is smart, lucid, witty, and important. It's attention-grabbing in just the right way. And once people's attention is grabbed, they will be treated to a genuinely enlightening example of academic thinking at its best."

—Bruce Robbins, author of Criticism and Politics

"Tautly argued and richly documented. Daub's study is indispensable reading for all who seek to defend ethical practices of organized dissent from the mendacious merchants of moral panic."

—Silke-Maria Weineck, author of The Tragedy of Fatherhood

"Provides urgent demystification of a panic that does not emerge from weird Twitter mobs, but rather from the majority of society itself. An important, clever and thoroughly analytical book on an overwrought debate."

—Eva Marburg, SWR2

"Comprehensive and knowledgeable."

—Carolin Wiedemann, Frankfurter Allegemeine Zeitung

"A plea for careful consideration and reflection."

—Florian Baranyi, ORF

"At a time when the forces of reaction are resurgent around the world, grasping how they learn, borrow, and adapt from each other's experiences has become an essential task—and we are fortunate to have Daub as our guide."

—Matthew Sitman, co-host of Know Your Enemy