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Film, Theater, and Performing Arts

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Black Theatre Cover

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Black Theatre

Ritual Performance In The African Diaspora

Paul Carter Harrison

Generating a new understanding of the past—as well as a vision for the future—this path-breaking volume contains essays written by playwrights, scholars, and critics that analyze African American theatre as it is practiced today.Even as they acknowledge that Black experience is not monolithic, these contributors argue provocatively and persuasively for a Black consciousness that creates a culturally specific theatre. This theatre, rooted in an African mythos, offers ritual rather than realism; it transcends the specifics of social relations, reaching toward revelation. The ritual performance that is intrinsic to Black theatre renews the community; in Paul Carter Harrison's words, it "reveals the Form of Things Unknown" in a way that "binds, cleanses, and heals."

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Blockbuster History in the New Russia

Movies, Memory, and Patriotism

Stephen M. Norris

Seeking to rebuild the Russian film industry after its post-Soviet collapse, directors and producers sparked a revival of nationalist and patriotic sentiment by applying Hollywood techniques to themes drawn from Russian history. Unsettled by the government's move toward market capitalism, Russians embraced these historical blockbusters, packing the American-style multiplexes that sprouted across the country. In this volume, Stephen M. Norris examines the connections among cinema, politics, economics, history, and patriotism in the creation of "blockbuster history"--the adaptation of an American cinematic style to Russian historical epics.

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Blockbuster TV

Must-See Sitcoms in the Network Era

Janet Staiger

Archie Bunker. Jed. Laverne and Shirley. Cliff Huxtable. Throughout the entire history of American prime-time television only four sitcoms have been true blockbusters, with Nielsen ratings far above the second- and third-rated programs. Weekly, millions of Americans of every age were making a special effort to turn on the set to see what Archie, Jed, Laverne, and Cliff were doing that week. The wild popularity of these shows--All in the Family, The Beverly Hillbillies, Laverne & Shirley (and its partner Happy Days), and The Cosby Show--left commentators bewildered by the tastes and preferences of the American public. How do we account for the huge appeal of these sitcoms, and how does it figure into the history of network prime-time television?

Janet Staiger answers these questions by detailing the myriad factors that go into the construction of mass audiences. Treating the four shows as case studies, she deftly balances factual explanations (for instance, the impact of VCRs and cable on network domination of TV) with more interpretative ones (for example, the transformation of The Beverly Hillbillies from a popular show detested by the critics, to a blockbuster after its elevation as the critics' darling), and juxtaposes industry-based reasons (for example, the ways in which TV shows derive success from placement in the weekly programming schedule) with stylistic explanations (how, for instance, certain shows create pleasure from a repetition and variation of a formula).

Staiger concludes that because of changes in the industry, these shows were a phenomenon that may never be repeated. And while the western or the night-time soap has at times captured public attention, Blockbuster TV maintains that the sitcom has been THE genre to attract people to the tube, and that without understanding the sitcom, we can't properly understand the role of television in our culture.

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Blow Up the Humanities

Toby Miller

A short, sharp, and provocative book, Blow Up the Humanities has esteemed scholar Toby Miller declaring that there are two humanities in the United States. One is the venerable, powerful humanities of private universities; the other is the humanities of state schools, which focus mainly on job prospects. There is a class division between the two—both in terms of faculty research and student background—and it must end.

Miller critically lays waste to the system. He examines scholarly publishing as well as media and cultural studies to show how to restructure the humanities by studying popular cultural phenomena, like video games. Miller ultimately insists that these two humanities must merge in order to survive and succeed in producing an aware and concerned citizenry.

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Blues Before Sunrise

The Radio Interviews

Steve Cushing

This collection assembles the best interviews from Steve Cushing's long-running radio program Blues Before Sunrise, the nationally syndicated, award-winning program focusing on vintage blues and R&B. As both an observer and performer, Cushing has been involved with the blues scene in Chicago for decades. His candid, colorful interviews with prominent blues players, producers, and deejays reveal the behind-the-scenes world of the formative years of recorded blues. Many of these oral histories detail the careers of lesser-known but greatly influential blues performers and promoters._x000B__x000B_The book focuses in particular on pre-World War II blues singers, performers active in 1950s Chicago, and nonperformers who contributed to the early blues world. Interviewees include Alberta Hunter, one of the earliest African American singers to transition from Chicago's Bronzeville nightlife to the international spotlight, and Ralph Bass, one of the greatest R&B producers of his era. Blues expert, writer, record producer, and cofounder of Living Blues Magazine Jim O'Neal provides the book's foreword.

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Bodies in Commotion

Disability and Performance

Edited by Carrie Sandahl and Philip Auslander

A testament to the synergy of two evolving fields. From the study of staged performances to examinations of the performing body in everyday life, this book demonstrates the enormous profitability of moving beyond disability as metaphor. . . . It's a lesson that many of our cultural institutions desperately need to learn. -Martin F. Norden, University of Massachusetts-Amherst This groundbreaking collection imagines disabled bodies as "bodies in commotion"-bodies that dance across artistic and discursive boundaries, challenging our understanding of both disability and performance. In the book's essays, leading critics and artists explore topics that range from theater and dance to multi-media performance art, agit-prop, American Sign Language theater, and wheelchair sports. Bodies in Commotion is the first collection to consider the mutually interpretive qualities of these two emerging fields, producing a dynamic new resource for artists, activists, and scholars.

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Body Blows

Six Performances

Tim Miller

    Hailed for his humor and passion, the internationally acclaimed performance artist Tim Miller has delighted, shocked, and emboldened audiences all over the world. Body Blows gathers six of Miller’s best-known performances that chart the sexual, spiritual, and political topography of his identity as a gay man: Some Golden States, Stretch Marks, My Queer Body, Naked Breath, Fruit Cocktail, and Glory Box. In Body Blows, Tim Miller leaps from the stage to the page, as each performance script is illustrated with striking photographs and accompanied by Miller’s notes and comment.
    This book explores the tangible body blows—taken and given—of Miller’s life and times as explored in his performances: the queer-basher’s blow, the sweet blowing breath of a lover, the below-the-belt blow of HIV/AIDS, the psychic blows from a society that disrespects the humanity of lesbian and gay relationships. Miller’s performances are full of the put-up-your-dukes and stand-your-ground of such day-to-day blows that make up being gay in America

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Body Double

The Author Incarnate in the Cinema

Lucy Fischer

Body Double explores the myriad ways that film artists have represented the creative process. In this highly innovative work, Lucy Fischer draws on a neglected element of auteur studies to show that filmmakers frequently raise questions about the paradoxes of authorship by portraying  the onscreen writer. Dealing with such varied topics as the icon of the typewriter, the case of the writer/director, the authoress, and the omnipresent infirm author, she probes the ways in which films can tell a plausible story while contemplating the conditions and theories of their making.

            By examining many forms of cinema, from Hollywood and the international art cinema to the avant-garde, Fischer considers the gender, age, and mental or physical health of fictionalized writers; the dramatized interaction between artists and their audiences and critics; and the formal play of written words and nonverbal images.

            By analyzing such movies as Adaptation, Diary of a Country Priest, Naked Lunch, American Splendor, and Irezumi, Fischer tracks the parallels between film author and character, looking not for the creative figure who stands outside the text, but for the one who stands within it as corporeal presence and alter-ego.

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The Body of the People

East German Dance since 1945

Jens Richard Giersdorf

The Body of the People is the first comprehensive study of dance and choreography in East Germany. More than twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Jens Richard Giersdorf investigates a national dance history in the German Democratic Republic, from its founding as a Communist state that supplanted the Soviet zone of occupation in 1949 through the aftermath of its collapse forty years later, examining complex themes of nationhood, ideology, resistance, and diaspora through an innovative mix of archival research, critical theory, personal narrative, and performance analysis.
    Giersdorf looks closely at uniquely East German dance forms—including mass exercise events, national folk dances, Marxist-Leninist visions staged by the dance ensemble of the armed forces, the vast amateur dance culture, East Germany’s version of Tanztheater, and socialist alternatives to rock ‘n’ roll—to demonstrate how dance was used both as a form of corporeal utopia and of embodied socialist propaganda and indoctrination. The Body of the People also explores the artists working in the shadow of official culture who used dance and movement to critique and resist state power, notably Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, Arila Siegert, and Fine Kwiatkowski. Giersdorf considers a myriad of embodied responses to the Communist state even after reunification, analyzing the embodiment of the fall of the Berlin Wall in the works of Jo Fabian and Sasha Waltz, and the diasporic traces of East German culture abroad, exemplified by the Chilean choreographer Patricio Bunster.

Body Shots Cover

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Body Shots

Early Cinema’s Incarnations

Jonathan Auerbach

This original and compelling book places the body at the center of cinema's first decade of emergence and challenges the idea that for early audiences, the new medium's fascination rested on visual spectacle for its own sake. Instead, as Jonathan Auerbach argues, it was the human form in motion that most profoundly shaped early cinema. Situating his discussion in a political and historical context, Auerbach begins his analysis with films that reveal striking anxieties and preoccupations about persons on public display—both exceptional figures, such as 1896 presidential candidate William McKinley, and ordinary people caught by the movie camera in their daily routines. The result is a sharp, unique, and groundbreaking way to consider the turn-of-the-twentieth-century American incarnation of cinema itself.

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