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3.80  ·  Rating details ·  138 ratings  ·  17 reviews
Awkwardness has been one of the defining traits of the awkwardly unnamed first decade of our young century, dominating comedy on both the big and small screens. Could this trend point toward something deeper? In Awkwardness, Adam Kotsko answers that question with a resounding yes. Drawing on key insights of cultural theory, he argues that awkwardness is a structuring princ ...more
Paperback, 89 pages
Published November 16th 2010 by zero books
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Average rating 3.80  · 
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Dec 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
The machinery of social engagement is greased by the application of a sort of non-engagement -- the rules and conventions, explicit and implicit, that bound and steer our interactions. But these rulesets are not always shared, they are not always followed, they fall into decline, and sometimes they simply don't apply. Kotsko calls these gaps awkwardness, and he argues that it is the defining mood of our time. He starts by establishing a typology of awkwardness, walks his framework through three ...more
Stephen Case
Mar 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
I should write a truly awkward review of this book. It would start, perhaps, with stories about my best friend in high school dating the author’s sister. But it would be largely irrelevant, except perhaps to illustrate the point Kotsko makes at the beginning of this text: we live in an age of awkwardness. It’s become a recognizable and indeed ubiquitous social symptom. Our generation seems to find itself almost daily in social situations in which we don’t know the appropriate roles or cues to fo ...more
Itai Farhi
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy, leftist
A fabulous essay on the promise and peril of awkwardness. The readings of Heidegger make some tricky concepts accessible and the analysis of a Pauline community of awkwardness persuasively reconstructs, with contemporary examples, a novel interpretation of Romans. Kotsko's writing style also deserves praise, in particular for its sympathetic and non-reductive presentation of cultural materials.
Jul 11, 2018 rated it liked it

På en wannabe-Zizekiansk måte forsøker Kotsko å koble "seriøs" filosofi og populærkultur. Med utgangspunkt i Heideggers Væren-begrep og Paulus Romerbrev argumenter forfatteren for hvordan 60-tallets normoppløsning har ført til at fenomenet "awkwardness", og forskjellige måter å takle det på, har preget vestlig kultur de siste tiårene. Ved å vise til The Office (både UK og US), Judd Apatow-filmer og Curb Your Enthusiasm argumenterer han for at heller enn å forsøke å skape en ny samfunns
Nov 16, 2018 rated it did not like it
'Awkwardness' lacks the kind of intuitive awareness one would hope the writer would offer when writing a book such as this one. For anyone looking for an in-depth analysis and understanding on the quality of being awkward, unfortunately, this book is not for you. The book is weighed down by frequent references to TV plots and characters. Like Kotsko's other work, it's a tedious read.
Mar 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Ultimately seeing the state of awkwardness as an opportunity for social grace, Kotsko uses media examples to illustrate awkwardness in three forms—the everyday, the cultural, and the radical—and argues that the proper utilization of the latter presents a good solution for combatting social strangeness in ways that offer community inclusion and education rather than exclusion and ostracism.
Joshua Buhs
Nov 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Clever. On a couple of levels.

Adam Kotsko’s book is meant to be a philosophical intervention into contemporary culture—an old-notion of philosophy. As the publisher notes in in its epilogue, the idea of a public intellectual no longer makes sense, given the desiccated meanings of “public” and “intellectual”—most of the public having been turned into private, commercial turf, and intellectual now connoting someone who talks softly on TV, rather than yells. (That’s how David Brooks became an intel
Mike Hayden
Apr 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
Kotsko use of Hiedeggar to understand awkwardness is very interesting and I think fruitful; but I think Kotsko's application of awkwardness as a mood like anxiety or boredom falls short and needs something more (see Mary Cappello's 《Awkward: A Detour》(2007) for that something magically more). Moreover, having read his 《Creepiness》 as well, it is hard to except what he has to say about the awkward individual and everyday awkwardness (both of which are not well shown in his anslyses) since his und ...more
Jan 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Adam Kotsko's essay takes a look at Awkwardness in television and film. Dealing with The Office (contrasting UK and US versions), Judd Apatow's films and Curb Your Enthusiasm, Kotsko attempts to classify and analyze awkwardness as a phenomenom, trying to explain why the past decade may have been so particularly fertile for awkwardness in comedy. Over 90 pages Kotsko's exposition is wonderfully clear and culminates with an outline of awkwardness as a force for good: a kind of step towards a utopi ...more
Sep 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
some fairly rigorous analysis of contemporary society viewed through the lens of critically acclaimed comedy (Curb, UK Office). essentially an essay - it's insightful, sometimes radical and persuasive
Jun 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Immensely enjoyable, and the final chapter in particular - comparing Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm with St Paul - was particularly fantastic.
Jul 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2012
I definitely dug this. Awkwardness as a vehicle of human grace. There's something there. I need to keep thinking about this...
Pavol Hardos
Mar 28, 2011 rated it liked it
This brief essay is a funny and trenchant pop-cultural commentary, but ultimately it is plagued by taking its own radicalism too seriously and becomes awkward at times.
Sep 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Marred only by my lack of familiarity with the television shows used as many of the examples.
Sean Capener
Oct 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
I expected this to be a fun, quick read. It was certainly that, but ended up being a more substantial cultural reflection than I had imagined as well.
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Adam Kotsko (b. 1980) is an American writer on theology, philosophy and popular culture, also known for his contributions to the blogosphere. His printed works include Why We Love Sociopaths (2012), Awkwardness (2010), and the authoritative Žižek and Theology (2008). Kotsko joined the faculty of Shimer College in Chicago in 2011, teaching the humanities component of Shimer's Great Books curric ...more

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