Joseph Packer

May 6, 2020

A Feeling of Wrongness

Pessimistic Rhetoric on the Fringes of Popular Culture

Penn State University Press 2019

On this episode, Lee Pierce (she/they) interviews Joe Packer of Central Michigan University about A Feeling of Wrongness: Pessimistic Rhetoric on the Fringes of Popular Culture (Penn State UP, 2019), an intriguing book attempting to rescue pessimism from the dustbin of public emotion and philosophical thought. From the work of H.P. Lovecraft to Rick and Morty to True Detective, Packer and his co-author Ethan Stoneman find the best of pessimistic philosophy reflected back in the weird affects of these cultural touchstones. A Feeling of Wrongness explores how these texts twist genres, upend common tropes, and disturb conventional narrative structures in a way that catches their audience off guard, resulting in belief without cognition, a more rhetorically effective form of pessimism than philosophical pessimism. I hope you enjoy listening as I much as I enjoyed chatting with Joe about this fascinating book. I’d love to hear from you at or connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook @rhetoriclee and @rhetoricleespeaking. Share your thoughts about the interview with the hashtag #newbooksnerd.

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Lee Pierce

Lee M. Pierce (she/they) is an Assistant Professor at SUNY Geneseo specializing in rhetoric, race, and U.S. political culture. They also host the Media & Communications and Language channels for New Books Network and their own podcast titled RhetoricLee Speaking.
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