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The Civil War in Popular Culture Cover

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The Civil War in Popular Culture

Memory and Meaning

edited by Lawrence A. Kreiser Jr. and Randal Allred

Dividing the nation for four years, the American Civil War resulted in 750,000 casualties and forever changed the country's destiny. The conflict continues to resonate in our collective memory, and U.S. economic, cultural, and social structures still suffer the aftershocks of the nation's largest and most devastating war. Nearly 150 years later, portrayals of the war in books, songs, cinema, and other cultural media continue to draw widespread attention and controversy.

In The Civil War in Popular Culture: Memory and Meaning, editors Lawrence A. Kreiser Jr. and Randal Allred analyze American depictions of the war across a variety of mediums, from books and film, to monuments and battlefield reunions, to reenactments and board games. This collection examines how battle strategies, famous generals, and the nuances of Civil War politics translate into contemporary popular culture. This unique analysis assesses the intersection of the Civil War and popular culture by recognizing how memories and commemorations of the war have changed since it ended in 1865.

Clockwork Rhetoric Cover

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Clockwork Rhetoric

The Language and Style of Steampunk

Barry Brummett

This unique book explores how the aesthetic and cultural movement "Steampunk" persuades audiences and wins new acolytes. Steampunk is an aesthetic style grounded in the Victorian era, in clothing and accoutrements modeled on a heightened and hyper-extended age of steam. In addition to its modeling of attire and other symbolic trappings, what is most distinctive is its adherents' use of a machined aesthetic based on steam engines and early electrical machinery: gears, pistons, shafts, wheels, induction motors, clockwork and so forth.

The aesthetic was first articulated in literature in the works of Jules Verne and H. G. Wells. The American West later contributed images to the aesthetic--revolvers, locomotives, and rifles of the late nineteenth century. Among young people steampunk has found common aesthetic cause with Goth style. Examples from literature and popular culture include William Gibson's fiction, China Miéville's novels, the classic film Metropolis, and the BBC series Doctor Who. This volume recognizes that steampunk, a unique popular culture phenomenon, presents a prime opportunity for rhetorical criticism.

Steampunk's art, style, and narratives convey complex social and political meanings. Chapters in Clockwork Rhetoric explore topics ranging from jewelry to Japanese anime to contemporary imperialism to fashion. Throughout, the book demonstrates how language influences consumers of steampunk to hold certain social and political attitudes and commitments.

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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Colossus Of Roads

Myth and Symbol along the American Highway

Karal Ann Marling

The world’s largest prairie chicken, a restaurant shaped like a fish, a massive Paul Bunyan, an enormous ear of corn-roadside sculpture is a uniquely American phenomenon, and these strange and wonderful figures are scattered along highways and standing in small-town squares, particularly in the Midwest.

These odd, oversized attractions have become destinations for travelers. Whether it serves art, commerce, or local pride, the colossus is a stopping place where the everyday rules of reality are suspended and the observer can gain insight into the way these communities imagine themselves.

Karal Ann Marling visits dozens of these roadside attractions, viewing them analytically, intellectually, and enthusiastically, tracing each one through folklore and literature. Heavily illustrated, this book takes the reader on the road to examine these treasures and all that they represent.

Comics and Language Cover

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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

Comics and Narration Cover

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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.

A Comics Studies Reader Cover

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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.

 Cover
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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.

Compassionate Stranger Cover

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Compassionate Stranger

Asenath Nicholson and the Great Irish Famine

by Maureen O'Rourke Murphy

The first biography of Asenath Nicholson, Compassionate Stranger recovers the largely forgotten history of an extraordinary woman. Trained as a schoolteacher, Nicholson was involved in the abolitionist, temperance, and diet reforms of the day before she left New York in 1844 “to personally investigate the condition of the Irish poor.” She walked alone throughout nearly every county in Ireland and reported on conditions in rural Ireland on the eve of the Great Irish Famine. She published Ireland’s Welcome to the Stranger, an account of her travels in 1847. She returned to Ireland in December 1846 to do what she could to relieve famine suffering—first in Dublin and then in the winter of 1847–48 in the west of Ireland where the suffering was greatest. Nicholson’s precise, detailed diaries and correspondence reveal haunting insights into the desperation of victims of the Famine and the negligence and greed of those who added to the suffering. Her account of the Great Irish Famine, Annals of the Famine in Ireland in 1847, 1848 and 1849, is both a record of her work and an indictment of official policies toward the poor: land, employment, famine relief. In addition to telling Nicholson’s story, from her early life in Vermont and upstate New York to her better-known work in Ireland, Murphy puts Nicholson’s own writings and other historical documents in conversation. This not only contextualizes Nicholson’s life and work, but it also supplements the impersonal official records with Nicholson’s more compassionate and impassioned accounts of the Irish poor.

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