The Oprah Phenomenon
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky
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To speak of Oprah Winfrey is to speak in superlatives. Sheâs the richest this, the most powerful that; the first this, the greatest influence on that. What Caesar was to geography, it would seem, Winfrey is to turn-of-the-twenty-first-century culture. Commentators refer to the âOprahficationâ of America much like historians refer to the hellenization of Europe and Asia under Alexander.
Introduction: Oprah Winfrey as Subject and Spectacle
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For a brief moment in 2002, President George W. Bush faced one of his most savvy media opponents to date: Oprah Winfrey. According to the White House, Winfrey declined to join an official U.S. delegation scheduled to tour the schools of Afghanistan and draw attention to the subordinate role of Afghani women, claiming âshe didnât have the time.â1 The news item was quickly disseminated, as befitting anything ...
Part I: Oprah Winfrey and Race
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The Specter of Oprah Winfrey: Critical Black Female Spectatorship
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Theorists of black visual spectatorship have long considered the spectacular modes of observation practiced by African Americans with regard to popular representations of themselves. Whether black peopleâs engagement with their imagery has been acquiescent or resistant, reconstructive or revisionary, critics agree that black people are experts at looking for themselves and at themselves in visual media.
My Mom and Oprah Winfrey: Her Appeal to White Women
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In the mid-1980s I was a single white female (SWF) working as a sportswriter for the Chicago Tribune. I lived in a condominium in downtown Chicago with a view of Lake Michigan. I did not own a car, walked everywhere, and reveled in my status as a city girl. My mother, who had raised three kids in a New Jersey suburb and was recently widowed, visited Chicago regularly.
The âOprahizationâ of America: The Man Show and the Redefinition of Black Femininity
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The hit Comedy Central series The Man Show debuted on June 16, 1999, to ratings that broke all records for the channel. The introductory program was titled âThe Oprahization of America,â and original hosts Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla had this to say about talk-show host Oprah Winfrey and contemporary social relationships in the United States:
Part II: Oprah Winfrey on the Stage
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Oprah Winfrey and Womenâs Autobiography: A Televisual Performance of the Therapeutic Self
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It has become somewhat commonplace to suggest that the genre of talk shows has blurred the private and public spheres by exposing to public view secrets hitherto confined to the bedroom (or whispered into the ear of a professional). However, the process by which the private is made public is still largely unclear. To become a public form of speech, a private utterance must undergo a transformation, that is, be recoded ...
From Fasting toward Self-Acceptance: Oprah Winfrey and Weight Loss in American Culture
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In 2002 Oprah Winfrey stated, âI did a head-to-toe assessment, and though there was plenty of room for improvement, I no longer hated any part of myself, including the cellulite. I thought, This is the body youâve been givenâlove what youâve got.â1 The story of Winfreyâs dramatic rise to stardom is widely known. An African American woman born into rural poverty, shuttled from one relative to another, and the ...
Spiritual Talk: The Oprah Winfrey Show and the Popularization of the New Age
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Nineteen ninety-four was an important year for Oprah Winfrey. In anticipation of her upcoming fortieth birthday, she began a radical program of self-transformation. To gain control over her lifelong battle with weight, she decided to abandon all fad diets for a more consistent plan of healthy eating and a strict daily running schedule. In a Ladiesâ Home Journal interview in November 1994, Winfrey reflected on her commitment to her new exercise regime:
Oprah Winfrey and Spirituality
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The public persona of Oprah Winfrey is a richly textured and complex mosaic composed of artist, philanthropist, television host, actress, author, publisher, producer, advocate, filmmaker, teacher, businesswoman, and media-pop icon. Many critical works that address Winfrey consider her performance of these roles within the context of gender studies, media studies, or both.
Phenomenon on Trial: Reading Rhetoric at Texas Beef v. Oprah Winfrey
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In January 1998 a conglomerate of cattle producers from Texas sued talk-show host Oprah Winfrey for comments she made on her show about the safety of the U.S. beef supply. Like many good stories, this one could begin with, âIn the beginning was the Word.â1 At every turn, the trial lends itself to a rhetorical critique: it was an event born of, centered on, and sustained by the word. It began with what Winfrey said, to whom, and where, and it insists on being about what people ...
Part III: Oprah Winfrey on the Page
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Oprahâs Book Club and the American Dream
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In their essay âAmerica Dreaminâ: Discoursing Liberally on The Oprah Winfrey Showâ Debbie Epstein and Deborah Lynn Steinberg assert that although the show identifies the failures and limitations of the American Dream for women and African Americans and, to a lesser extent, for the lower classes, in the end, it recuperates this classic mythology by affirming that self-actualization is indeed the key to social and economic success.
Some Lessons before Dying: Gender, Morality, and the Missing Critical Discourse in Oprahâs Book Club
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As educators, feminists, cultural critics, and lovers of reading for pleasure, we are fascinated by Oprahâs Book Club. Oprah Winfreyâs ability to call attention to the work of otherwise marginalized authors and to promote a widened readership of their novels among a largely conventional fiction-reading publicâas she did in the original incarnation of the book clubâis remarkable.
Making Corrections to Oprahâs Book Club: Reclaiming Literary Power for Gendered Literacy Management
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In the fall of 2001, the juggernaut of Oprah Winfreyâs original book club hit a roadblock. Up until that time, Winfreyâs television-based reading community had been humming steadily along, generating unprecedented sales for every book she selected while garnering zealous participation from fans, as well as praise from organizations such as the American Library Association. Oprahâs Book Club had been big news ...
Knowing for Sure: Epistemologies of the Autonomous Self in O, the Oprah Magazine
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A common popular narrative of female empowerment is the story of the woman who goes looking for personal satisfaction and âcompletionâ in others and, after much disappointment, only truly finds it in herself. This narrative suggests a vague link to American popular conceptions of feminism, which for some includes the political, ethical, and cultural ideologies that argue for womenâs self-determination.1
Oprah Winfreyâs Branding of Personal Empowerment
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Fresh from the successful launch of Oprahâs Book Club and the continued success of The Oprah Winfrey Show, Winfrey launched O, the Oprah Magazine in MayâJune 2000. In that premier issue, Oprah Winfrey proclaimed her desire to guide her readers toward personal empowerment while linking their success to her own self-empowerment: âThis is the defining question of my life: How do you use your life to best serve yourself and extend that to the world?
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Page Count: 312
Publication Year: 2007