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Color Cover

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Color

Essays on Race, Family, and History

Kenneth A. McClane

In 1991, acclaimed poet Kenneth A. McClane published Walls: Essays, 1985-1990, a volume of essays dealing with life in Harlem, the death of his alcoholic brother, and the complexities of being black and middle-class in America. Now, in Color: Essays on Race, Family, and History, McClane contributes further to his self-described “autobiographical sojourn” with a second collection of interconnected essays. In McClane’s words, “All concern race, although they, like the human spirit, wildly sweep and yaw.” A timely installment in our national narrative, Color is a chronicle of the black middle class, a group rarely written about with sensitivity and charity. In evocative, trenchant, and poetic prose, McClane employs the art of the memoirist to explore the political and the personal. He details the poignant narrative of racial progress as witnessed by his family during the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s. We learn of his parents’ difficult upbringing in Boston, where they confronted much racism; of the struggles they and McClane encountered as they became the first blacks to enter previously all-white institutions, including the oldest independent school in the United States; and of the part his parents played in the civil rights movement, working with Dr. King and others. The book ends with a tender account of his parents in the throes of Alzheimer’s disease, which claimed both their lives.

The Colored Cartoon Cover

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The Colored Cartoon

Black Presentation in American Animated Short Films, 1907-1954

Christopher P. Lehman

From the introduction of animated film in the early 1900s to the 1950s, ethnic humor was a staple of American-made cartoons. Yet as Christopher Lehman shows in this revealing study, the depiction of African Americans in particular became so inextricably linked to the cartoon medium as to influence its evolution through those five decades. He argues that what is in many ways most distinctive about American animation reflects white animators' visual interpretations of African American cultural expression. The first American animators drew on popular black representations, many of which were caricatures rooted in the culture of southern slavery. During the 1920s, the advent of the sound-synchronized cartoon inspired animators to blend antebellum-era black stereotypes with the modern black cultural expressions of jazz musicians and Hollywood actors. When the film industry set out to desexualize movies through the imposition of the Hays Code in the early 1930s, it regulated the portrayal of African Americans largely by segregating black characters from others, especially white females. At the same time, animators found new ways to exploit the popularity of African American culture by creating animal characters like Bugs Bunny who exhibited characteristics associated with African Americans without being identifiably black. By the 1950s, protests from civil rights activists and the growing popularity of white cartoon characters led animators away from much of the black representation on which they had built the medium. Even so, animated films today continue to portray African American characters and culture, and not necessarily in a favorable light. Drawing on a wide range of sources, including interviews with former animators, archived scripts for cartoons, and the films themselves, Lehman illustrates the intimate and unmistakable connection between African Americans and animation.Choice

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Comics and Language

Reimagining Critical Discourse on the Form

Hannah Miodrag

It has become an axiom in comic studies that "comics is a language, not a genre." But what exactly does that mean, and how is discourse on the form both aided and hindered by thinking of it in linguistic terms? In Comics and Language, Hannah Miodrag challenges many of the key assumptions about the "grammar" and formal characteristics of comics, and offers a more nuanced, theoretical framework that she argues will better serve the field by offering a consistent means for communicating critical theory in the scholarship. Through engaging close readings and an accessible use of theory, this book exposes the problems embedded in the ways critics have used ideas of language, literature, structuralism, and semiotics, and sets out a new and more theoretically sound way of understanding how comics communicate.

Comics and Language argues against the critical tendency to flatten the distinctions between language and images and to discuss literature purely in terms of story content. It closely examines the original critical theories that such arguments purport to draw on and shows how they in fact point away from the conclusions they are commonly used to prove. The book improves the use the field makes of existing scholarly disciplines and furthers the ongoing sophistication of the field. It provides animated and insightful analyses of a range of different texts and takes an interdisciplinary approach. Comics and Language will appeal to the general comics reader and will prove crucial for specialized scholars in the fields of comics, literature, cultural studies, art history, and visual studies. It also provides a valuable summary of the current state of formalist criticism within comics studies and so presents the ideal text for those interested in exploring this growing area of research

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Comics and Narration

Thierry Groensteen

This book is the follow-up to Thierry Groensteen's ground-breaking The System of Comics, in which the leading French-language comics theorist set out to investigate how the medium functions, introducing the principle of iconic solidarity, and showing the systems that underlie the articulation between panels at three levels: page layout, linear sequence, and nonsequential links woven through the comic book as a whole. He now develops that analysis further, using examples from a very wide range of comics, including the work of American artists such as Chris Ware and Robert Crumb. He tests out his theoretical framework by bringing it up against cases that challenge it, such as abstract comics, digital comics and sh?jo manga, and offers insightful reflections on these innovations.

In addition, he includes lengthy chapters on three areas not covered in the first book. First, he explores the role of the narrator, both verbal and visual, and the particular issues that arise out of narration in autobiographical comics. Second, Groensteen tackles the question of rhythm in comics, and the skill demonstrated by virtuoso artists in intertwining different rhythms over and above the basic beat provided by the discontinuity of the panels. And third he resets the relationship of comics to contemporary art, conditioned by cultural history and aesthetic traditions but evolving recently as comics artists move onto avant-garde terrain.

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A Comics Studies Reader

Jeet Heer

A Comics Studies Reader offers the best of the new comics scholarship in nearly thirty essays on a wide variety of such comics forms as gag cartoons, editorial cartoons, comic strips, comic books, manga, and graphic novels.

The anthology covers the pioneering work of Rodolphe Töpffer, the Disney comics of Carl Barks, and the graphic novels of Art Spiegelman and Chris Ware, as well as Peanuts, romance comics, and superheroes. It explores the stylistic achievements of manga, the international anti-comics campaign, and power and class in Mexican comic books and English illustrated stories.

A Comics Studies Reader introduces readers to the major debates and points of reference that continue to shape the field. It will interest anyone who wants to delve deeper into the world of comics and is ideal for classroom use.

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Common Knowledge

Vol. 8 (2002) through current issue

Since 1992 Common Knowledge has opened lines of communication among schools of thought in the academy, as well as between the academy and the community of thoughtful people outside its walls. Common Knowledge has formed a new intellectual model, one based on conversation and cooperation rather than on metaphors (adopted from war and sports) of "sides" that one must "take." The pages of Common Knowledge regularly challenge the ways we think about scholarship and its relevance to humanity.

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Contemporary African Cultural Productions

All over Africa, an explosion in cultural productions of various genres is in evidence. Whether in relation to music, song and dance, drama, poetry, film, documentaries, photography, cartoons, fine arts, novels and short stories, essays, and (auto)biography; the continent is experiencing a robust outpouring of creative power that is as remarkable for its originality as its all-round diversity. Beginning from the late 1970s and early 1980s, the African continent has experienced the longest and deepest economic crises than at any other time since the period after the Second World War. Interestingly however, while practically every indicator of economic development was declining in nominal and/ or real terms for most aspects of the continent, cultural productions were on the increase. Out of adversity, the creative genius of the African produced cultural forms that at once spoke to crises and sought to transcend them. The current climate of cultural pluralism that has been produced in no small part by globalization has not been accompanied by an adequate pluralism of ideas on what culture is, and/or should be; nor informed by an equal claim to the production of the cultural ñ packaged or not. Globalization has seen to movement and mixture, contact and linkage, interaction and exchange where cultural flows of capital, people, commodities, images and ideologies have meant that the globe has become a space, with new asymmetries, for an increasing intertwinement of the lives of people and, consequently, of a greater blurring of normative definitions as well as a place for re-definition, imagined and real. As this book ñ Contemporary African Cultural Productions ñ has done, researching into African culture and cultural productions that derive from it allows us, among other things, to enquire into definitions, explore historical dimensions, and interrogate the political dimensions to presentation and representation. The book therefore offers us an intervention that goes beyond the normative literary and cultural studiesí main foci of race, difference and identity; notions which, while important in themselves might, without the necessary historicizing and interrogating, result in a discourse that rather re-inscribes the very patterns that necessitate writing against. This book is an invaluable compendium to scholars, researchers, teachers, students and others who specialize on different aspects of African culture and cultural productions, as well as cultural centers and general readers.

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Counsel for the Situation

Shaping the Law to Realize America's Promise

with Donald T. Bliss. William T. Coleman

"Bill Coleman's story is one that younger generations should mark and inwardly digest, lest they forget the pioneers who helped to make a better America possible." —From the Foreword by Stephen G. Breyer

William Coleman has spent a lifetime opening doors and breaking down barriers. He has been an eyewitness to history; moreover, he has made history. This is his inspiring story, in his own words.

Americans of color faced daunting barriers in the 1940s. Despite graduating first in his class at Harvard Law and clerking for Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, Coleman was shut out of major East Coast law firms. But as the Philadelphia native writes, "The times, they were a'changing." He not only benefited from that change —he helped propel it, by way of dogged determination, undeniable intellect, and stellar accomplishment.

Coleman's legal work with Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund helped jumpstart the civil rights movement in the 1950s. He was the first American of color to clerk for the Supreme Court, and later served as senior counsel to the Warren Commission, investigating the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In 1975 he was appointed secretary of transportation by President Gerald Ford —the first American of color to serve in a Republican cabinet —and in 1995 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Bill Clinton.

At his core, Bill Coleman is a lawyer. He strives to be a "counsel for the situation" —an advocate able to take on major matters in a variety of legal disciplines while upholding the highest traditions of justice and the public interest. He is fiercely proud of the legal profession's role in a democratic society and free economy, and he is grateful for the opportunities that profession has afforded him in the court room, the board room, and the corridors of power. It is through this prism that he relates his own story —his life and the law.

The results speak for themselves, and in this immensely entertaining chronicle, the Counsel for the Situation speaks for himself.

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Countering MTV Influence in Indonesia and Malaysia

Kalinga Seneviratne

This book discusses three major elements - MTV, the Music of Malaysia, and the Music of Indonesia - and how these three interact in the modern cultural setting. The research objective behind the book was to study the impact of globalization, in the form of the MTV onslaught on the youth musical culture and identities of Indonesia and Malaysia, and to determine what theoretical basis could explain the new cultural products which have risen in response to this process. The book goes on to examine whether the nasyid and irama Malaysia music genres in Malaysia and dangdut in Indonesia are part of this process and how it is achieved

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CR: The New Centennial Review

Vol. 1 (2001) through current issue

CR: The New Centennial Review is devoted to comparative studies of the Americas that suggest possibilities for a different future. Centennial Review is published three times a year under the editorship of Scott Michaelsen (Department of English, Michigan State University) and David E. Johnson (Department of Comparative Literature, SUNY at Buffalo).

The journal recognizes that the language of the Americas is translation, and that questions of translation, dialogue, and border crossings (linguistic, cultural, national, and the like) are necessary for rethinking the foundations and limits of the Americas. Journal articles address philosophically inflected interventions, provocations, and insurgencies that question the existing configuration of the Americas, as well as global and theoretical work with implications for the hemisphere.

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