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Palgrave Macmillan

The History of the Kiss!

The Birth of Popular Culture

ISBN 9781137376831
Publication Date December 2013
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Paperback Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Series Semiotics and Popular Culture

What's more romantic than two people embracing, looking into each other's eyes, and kissing each other? But how should we make sense of this iconic act? How and when did it become a vital sign of romance and love? When the kiss first started to appear in narratives, poetry, and the songs of the medieval period, it was as something desirable, yet forbidden. Since then it has evolved into a symbol of love-making in the popular imagination. In this provocative book, pop culture expert Marcel Danesi explores how the kiss emerged as an act of betrayal and raw sensuality, in defiance of its spiritual and religious functions, and from there evolved into the amorous cultural gesture we know today. He takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the history of the kiss, from early poems and paintings to current movies and popular songs, and argues that its romantic incarnation signaled the birth of popular culture.

Marcel Danesi is Director of the Program in Semiotics and Communication Theory and Professor of Linguistic Anthropology at the University of Toronto, Canada. He is the author of many books, including Of Cigarettes, High Heels, and Other Interesting Things; Cool: The Signs and Meanings of Adolescence and X-Rated! The Power of Mythic Symbolism in Popular Culture. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1998, founded a research center (Center for Communication and Information Sciences), and is the Editor in Chief of Semiotica. Danesi's work has been featured in the New York Times, Toronto Star, and Psychology Today among other print publications, and he has been a guest on broadcast outlets such as National Public Radio.

1. The Popular Origins of the Kiss
2. The Kiss in Ritual, Symbol, and Myth
3. The Kiss in Stories, Real and Fictional
4. The Kiss in Images
5. The Kiss in Songs
6. The Kiss Goes to the Movies
7. The Kiss in the Internet Age


"The History of the Kiss by Marcel Danesi serves as part anthropological study and part celebration of this mysterious, sensuous, thrilling activity that holds such power over us all." - New York Post "An illuminating look at why kissing is such a powerful act." - The Guardian
"This brief, entertaining history of the kiss spans a number of eras, several genres, and a range of disciplines . . . Summing Up: Recommended. General readers." - CHOICE
"The History of the Kiss! is exceptional. Marcel Danesi has provided an exceptional analysis and elucidation of all of the kiss's meanings in the various cultural contexts in which it exists. This is the best account of a fascinating and important social gesture that I have ever read." - Frank Nuessel, University of Louisville, USA
"Danesi does it again: an entertaining and informative semiotic analysis showing that a mere trifle of popular culture is central to people's culture-specific understanding of who they are. Taking in origins, rituals, fiction, pictures, songs, movies, and the internet age, this book shows that the kiss is much more than an enquiry on the first floor as to whether the ground floor is available. It will be essential reading for media and cultural studies students and beyond." - Paul Cobley, Professor in Language and Media, Middlesex University, UK
"Marcel Danesi's delightful book explores the science, art, history, and popular culture of humanity's most intimate exchange. Engaging and informative, The History of The Kiss! The Birth of Popular Culture will be treasured by readers for years to come." - Sheril Kirshenbaum, author of The Science of Kissing
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