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Vol. 43 (2001) through current issue
Criticism provides a forum for current scholarship on literature, media, music and visual culture. A place for rigorous theoretical and critical debate as well as formal and methodological self-reflexivity and experimentation, Criticism aims to present contemporary thought at its most vital.
From Intolerance to The Silence of the Lambs, motion pictures show crowds and power in complex, usually antagonistic, relationships. Key to understanding this opposition is an intrinsic capability of the cinema: transformation. Making unprecedented use of Elias Canetti's Crowds and Power, Lesley Brill explores crowds, power, and transformation throughout film history. The formation of crowds together with crowd symbols and representations of power create complex, unifying structures in two early masterpieces, The Battleship Potemkin and Intolerance. In Throne of Blood, power-seekers become increasingly isolated, while the crowd of the dead seduces and overwhelms the living. The conflict between crowds and power in Citizen Kane takes place both within the protagonist and between him and the people he tries to master. North by Northwest, Killer of Sheep, and The Silence of the Lambs are rich in hunting and predation and show the crowd as a pack; transformation—true, false, and failed—is the key to both attack and escape. Brill's study provides original insights into canonical movies and shows anew the central importance of transformation in film. Film theorists, critics, and historians will value this fresh and intriguing approach to film classics, which also has much to say about cinema itself and its unique relationship to mass audiences.
By dramatizing the intersection of self-interested capitalism and foundational violence in a mining camp in 1870s South Dakota, the HBO series Deadwood reinvented the television Western. In this volume, Ina Rae Hark examines the groundbreaking series from a variety of angles: its relationship to past iterations of the genre on the small screen; its production context, both within the HBO paradigm and as part of the oeuvre of its creator and showrunner David Milch; and its thematics. Hark’s comprehensive analysis also takes into account the series’ trademark use of language: both its unrelenting and ferocious obscenity and the brilliant complexity of its dialogue. Hark argues that Deadwood dissolves several traditional binaries of the Western genre. She demonstrates that while the show appears to pit individuality, savagery, lawlessness, social regulation, and civilization against each other, its narrative shows that apparent opposites are often analogues, and these forces can morph into allies very quickly. Indeed, perhaps the show’s biggest paradox and most profound revelation is that self-interest and communitarianism cannot survive without each other. Hark closely analyzes Al Swearengen (as played by Ian McShane), the character who most embodies this paradox. A brutal cutthroat and purveyor of any vice that can turn him a profit, Swearengen nevertheless becomes the figure who forges connections among the camp’s disparate individuals and shepherds their growth into a community. Deadwood is quintessentially, if unflatteringly, American in what it reveals about the dark underpinnings of national success rooted not in some renewed Eden but in a town that is, in the apt words of one of its promotional taglines, “a hell of a place to make your fortune.” Fans of the show and scholars of television history will enjoy Hark’s analysis of Deadwood.
From Soul Talks to Talk Radio in Israeli Culture
The vision of communication as authentic dialogue, as the mutual communion of souls, has animated a great many twentieth century discussions of language and communication, both in scholarly writings and in various forms and contexts of popular culture. In its various manifestations, this communicative utopia has identified dialogue or conversation as a locus of authenticity of both individuals and groups. This study traces the ways in which this utopian vision of communication has played itself out in the particular context of Israeli society through the twentieth century, encapsulating central trends in the evolving Israeli cultural conversation over the years. In this sense, it is a historically-situated study of the cultural fluctuations of a given society in all its particularity. In another sense, however, it seeks to offer a more general statement about the culturally constructed nature of the quest for authenticity as a project of modernity by focusing on conceptions of communication and language as its quintessential loci.” —From the Introduction by Tamar Katriel
Youth, Reeducation, and Reconstruction after the Second World War
During Hitler’s reign, the Nazis deliberately developed and exploited a youthful image and used youth to define their political and social hierarchies. After the war, with Hitler gone but still requiring cultural exorcism, many intellectuals, authors, and filmmakers turned to these images of youth to navigate and negotiate the most difficult questions of Germany’s recent, nefarious past. Focusing on youth, education, and crime allowed postwar Germans to claim one last realm of sovereignty against the Allies’ own emphatic project of reeducation. Youth, reeducation, and reconstruction became important sites for the occupied to confront not only the recent past, but to negotiate the present occupation and, ultimately, direct the future of the German nation. Disciplining Germany analyzes a variety of media, including literature, news media, intellectual history, and films, in order to argue that youth and education played a central role in Germany’s coming to terms with the Nazi past. Although there has been a recently renewed interest in Germany’s coming to terms with the past, this attention has largely ignored the role of youth and reeducation. This lacuna is particularly perplexing given that the Allies’ reeducation project became, in many ways, a cipher for the occupational project as a whole. Disciplining Germany opens up the discussion and points toward more general conclusions not only about youth and education as sites for wider socio-political and cultural debates but also about the complexities of occupation and the intertwining of different national cultures. In this investigation, the study attends to both “high” and “low” cultural text—to specialized versus popular texts—to examine how youth was mobilized across the generic spectrum. With these interdisciplinary approaches and timely interventions, Disciplining Germany will find a diverse readership, including upper-division and graduate courses in German studies and German history as well as those general readers interested in Nazi Germany, cultural history, film and literary studies, youth culture, American studies, and post-conflict and occupational situations.
Vol. 22, no. 3 (2000) through current issue
Discourse explores a variety of topics in contemporary cultural studies, theories of media and literature, and the politics of sexuality, including questions of language and psychoanalysis. The journal publishes valuable and innovative essays on a wide range of cultural phenomena, promoting theoretical approaches to literature, film, the visual arts, and related media.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Walt Disney Company's network television series Disneyland/The Wonderful World of Color. The series, part of Walt Disney's quest to re-create American entertainment, premiered October 27, 1954 on ABC and was the longest-lived program in television history. Over the years, Walt Disney's visions have evolved into family-oriented cinema, television, theme parks. From the lovable Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck to magical places like Frontierland, Disneyland/The Wonderful World of Color generated some of the most popular fads of the era. In Disney TV, J. P. Telotte examines the history of the Disney television series while placing it in context—the film industry's reaction to television in the post-World War II era, the Disney Studios’ place in the American entertainment industry, and Walt Disney’s dream to create the modern theme park. Telotte’s guiding principle in this examination is to illustrate how Disney changed the relationship between cinema and television and, perhaps more importantly, how it affected American culture. The conciseness of Telotte's book is a major advantage over other leading Disney scholarship. Detailed, without including minutia, Telotte provides the reader with the key issues that surrounded the development of the Disney phenomenon. This book will attract a wide array of readers--scholars of television, media, and film studies, popular culture students, and all those touched by the magic of Disney.