Cultural Studies

Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press

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Cultural Studies

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Making It Like a Man

Canadian Masculinities in Practice

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Material Cultures in Canada

Material Cultures in Canada presents the vibrant and diverse field of material culture studies in Canadian literary, artistic, and political contexts today. The first of its kind, this collection features sixteen essays by leading scholars in Canada, each of whom examines a different object of study, including the beaver, geraniums, comics, water, a musical playlist, and the human body.

The book’s three sections focus, in turn, on objects that are persistently material, on things whose materiality blends into the immaterial, and on the materials of spaces. Contributors highlight some of the most exciting new developments in the field, such as the emergence of “new materialism,” affect theory, globalization studies, and environmental criticism. Although the book has a Canadian centre, the majority of its contributors consider objects that cross borders or otherwise resist national affiliation.

This collection will be valuable to readers within and outside of Canada who are interested in material culture studies and, in addition, will appeal to anyone interested in the central debates taking place in Canadian political and cultural life today, such as climate change, citizenship, shifts in urban and small-town life, and the persistence of imperialism.

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Parallel Encounters

Culture at the Canada-US Border

The essays collected in Parallel Encounters offer close analysis of an array of cultural representations of the Canada–US border, in both site-specificity and in the ways in which they reveal and conceal cultural similarities and differences. Contributors focus on a range of regional sites along the border and examine a rich variety of expressive forms, including poetry, fiction, drama, visual art, television, and cinema produced on both sides of the 49th parallel.

The field of border studies has hitherto neglected the Canada–US border as a site of cultural interest, tending to examine only its role in transnational policy, economic cycles, and legal and political frameworks. Border studies has long been rooted in the US–Mexico divide; shifting the locus of that discussion north to the 49th parallel, the contributors ask what added complications a site-specific analysis of culture at the Canada–US border can bring to the conversation. In so doing, this collection responds to the demands of Hemispheric American Studies to broaden considerations of the significance of American culture to the Americas as a whole—bringing Canadian Studies into dialogue with the dominantly US-centric critical theory in questions of citizenship, globalization, Indigenous mobilization, hemispheric exchange, and transnationalism.

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The Politics of Enchantment

Romanticism, Media, and Cultural Studies

What do "raves" have to do with eighteenth-century Romanticism, or the latest communication technologies with historical ideas about language, media, and culture?

Today’s culture dazzles us with technological marvels and media spectacles. While we find them entertaining, just as often they are troubling — they seem to contradict common sense, eliciting such questions as What is real? or What is reality? and What is language? or What does language do? These questions, once confined to scholars, have become everyone’s concern. Some of the best answers might be found in an unexpected source: Romanticism.

Too often we bring the values of the Enlightenment, particularly that of reason, to critique phenomena not inherently rational, such as pop culture or the Internet. This means that much criticism of current culture already has an intellectual foundation antagonistic to it — inviting postmodern arguments that suggest history has ended and reality is an illusion.

In contrast, Romanticism, a cultural movement founded in Germany and England during the late eighteenth century, offers us an archive of concepts surprisingly sensitive to these problems. The Romantics were poets, dreamers, and politicians who advanced ideas that anticipated much contemporary thinking. David Black has organized these ideas systematically, and has then applied them to key issues in communications, such as representation, audience, and the information society, as well as to significant debates in cultural studies.

As a result, The Politics of Enchantment offers a new theory of media and culture that is grounded in intellectual history, yet as feverishly current as the latest digital device.

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Reclaiming Canadian Bodies

Visual Media and Representation

The central focus of Reclaiming Canadian Bodies is the relationship between visual media, the construction of Canadian national identity, and notions of embodiment. It asks how particular representations of bodies are constructed and performed within the context of visual and discursive mediated content. The book emphasizes the ways individuals destabilize national mainstream visual tropes, which in turn have the potential to destabilize nationalist messages.

Drawing upon rich empirical research and relevant theory, the contributors ask how and why particular bodies (of Estonian immigrants, sports stars, First Nations peoples, self-identified homosexuals, and women) are either promoted and upheld as “Canadian” bodies while others are marginalized in or excluded from media representations. Essays are grouped into three sections: Embodied Ideals, The Embodiment of “Others,” and Embodied Activism and Advocacy. Written in an accessible style for a broad audience of scholars and students, this volume is original within the field of visual media, affect theory, and embodiment due to its emphasis on detailed empirical and, in some cases, ethnographic research within a Canadian context.

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Slippery Pastimes

Reading the Popular in Canadian Culture

Sixteen essays, written by specialists from many fields, grapple with the problem of a popular culture that is not very popular — but is seen by most as vital to the body politic, whether endangered by globalization or capable of politically progressive messages for its audiences.

Slippery Pastimes covers a variety of topics: Canadian popular music from rock ’n’ roll to country, hip-hop to pop-Celtic; television; advertising; tourism; sport and even postage stamps! As co-editors, Nicks and Sloniowski have taken an open view of the Canadian Popular, and contributors have approached their topics from a variety of perspectives, including cultural studies, women’s studies, film studies, sociology and communication studies. The essays are accessibly written for undergraduate students and interested general readers.

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When Technocultures Collide

Innovation from Below and the Struggle for Autonomy

When Technocultures Collide provides rich and diverse studies of collision courses between technologically inspired subcultures and the corporate and governmental entities they seek to undermine. The adventures and exploits of computer hackers, phone phreaks, urban explorers, calculator and computer collectors, “CrackBerry” users, whistle-blowers, Yippies, zinsters, roulette cheats, chess geeks, and a range of losers and tinkerers feature prominently in this volume. Gary Genosko analyzes these practices for their remarkable diversity and their innovation and leaps of imagination. He assesses the results of a number of operations, including the Canadian stories of Mafiaboy, Jeff Chapman of Infiltration, and BlackBerry users.

The author provides critical accounts of highly specialized attributes, such as the prospects of deterritorialized computer mice and big toe computing, the role of electrical grid hacks in urban technopolitics, and whether info-addiction and depression contribute to tactical resistance. Beyond resistance, however, the goal of this work is to find examples of technocultural autonomy in the minor and marginal cultural productions of small cultures, ethico-poetic diversions, and sustainable withdrawals with genuine therapeutic potential to surpass accumulation, debt, and competition. The dangers and joys of these struggles for autonomy are underlined in studies of RIM’s BlackBerry and Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks website.

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