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Identities and Communities in a Mediated World
We are all fans. Whether we log on to Web sites to scrutinize the latest plot turns in Lost, “stalk” our favorite celebrities on Gawker, attend gaming conventions, or simply wait with bated breath for the newest Harry Potter novel—each of us is a fan. Fandom extends beyond television and film to literature, opera, sports, and pop music, and encompasses both high and low culture.
Fandom brings together leading scholars to examine fans, their practices, and their favorite texts. This unparalleled selection of original essays examines instances across the spectrum of modern cultural consumption from Karl Marx to Paris Hilton, Buffy the Vampire Slayer to backyard wrestling, Bach fugues to Bollywood cinema¸ and nineteenth-century concert halls to computer gaming. Contributors examine fans of high cultural texts and genres, the spaces of fandom, fandom around the globe, the impact of new technologies on fandom, and the legal and historical contexts of fan activity. Fandom is key to understanding modern life in our increasingly mediated and globalized world.
Masculine Identity and Performance in the Circuit
The South and the Future of American Cultural Studies
Meanings of the Spirit in the U.S. South
Flashes of a Southern Spirit explores meanings of the spirit in the American South, including religious ecstasy and celebrations of regional character and distinctiveness.
Charles Reagan Wilson sees ideas of the spirit as central to understanding southern identity. The South nurtured a patriotic spirit expressed in the high emotions of Confederates going off to war, but the region also was the setting for a spiritual outpouring of prayer and song during the civil rights movement. Arguing for a spiritual grounding to southern identity, Wilson shows how identifications of the spirit are crucial to understanding what makes southerners invest so much meaning in their regional identity.
From the late nineteenth-century invention of southern tradition to early twenty-first-century folk artistic creativity, Wilson examines a wide range of cultural expression, including music, literature, folk art, media representations, and religious imagery. He finds new meanings in the works of such creative giants as William Faulkner, Richard Wright, and Elvis Presley, while at the same time closely examining little-studied figures such as the artist/revivalist McKendree Long. Wilson proposes that southern spirituality is a neglected category of analysis in the recent flourishing of interdisciplinary studies on the South—one that opens up the cultural interaction of blacks and whites in the region.
Popular Film as Vernacular Culture
Interest in the conjunctions of film and folklore is stronger and more diverse than ever. Ethnographic documentaries on folk life and expression remain a vital genre, but scholars such as Mikel Koven and Sharon Sherman also are exploring how folklore elements appear in, and merge with, popular cinema. They look at how movies, a popular culture medium, can as well be both a medium and type of folklore, playing cultural roles and conveying meanings customarily found in other folkloric forms. They thus use the methodology of folklore studies to “read” films made for commercial distribution.
The contributors to this book look at film and folklore convergences, showing how cinema conveys vernacular—traditional and popular—culture. Folklore/ Cinema will be of interest to scholars from many fields—folklore, film studies, popular culture, American studies, history, anthropology, and literature among them—and will help introduce students in various courses to intersections of film and culture.
This new and retitled edition of A. B. Spellman's long-out-of-print Four lives in the Bebop Business brings a classic work on jazz back to life, and shines a light on four musicians who've finally gotten their due. In 1966, at the height of the avant-garde and the year of the first edition, the subjects of Spellman's interviews for the book—Cecil Taylor, Ornette Coleman, Herbie Nichols, and Jackie McLean—were considered too subtle, complex, or difficult, certainly far from the comfortable melodies of more mainstream artists. Nearly forty years later, in the new edition, Spellman notes the capriciousness of the jazz industry and writes of darker cultural currents, "the most sinister of which is the gross indifference with which America receives those aspects of Afro-American culture that are not 'entertaining.'" Now that the world has caught up to the talents of Taylor, Coleman, Nichols, and McLean, Four Jazz Lives not only celebrates their musical genius but reminds us again of the permanent place they occupy in the pantheon of jazz greats. A. B. Spellman is a well-known author, poet, critic, and instructor. He has published numerous books and articles on the arts, including Art Tatum: A Critical Biography and The Beautiful Days.
Too often remembered solely as the psychiatrist and cultural critic whose testimony in Senate subcommittees sparked the creation of the Comics Code, Fredric Wertham was a far more complex man. Author Bart Beaty traces the evolution of Wertham's attitudes toward popular culture and reassesses his place in the debate about pop culture's effects on youth and society. When The Seduction of the Innocent was published in 1954, Wertham (1895-1981) became instantly known as an authority on child psychology. Although he had published several books before Seduction, its sharp criticism of popular culture in general--and comic books in particular--made it a touchstone for debate about issues of censorship, child protection, and freedom of speech. Fredric Wertham and the Critique of Mass Culture, a fresh perspective on Wertham's career, reinterprets his intellectual legacy and challenges notions about his alleged cultural conservatism. Drawing upon Wertham's published works as well as his unpublished private papers, correspondence, and notes, Beaty reveals a man whose opinions, life, and career offer more subtlety of thought than previously assumed. In particular, the book examines Wertham's change of heart in the 1970s, when he began to claim that comics could be a positive influence in American society. The Wertham that emerges is a critic who was significantly more progressive and multifaceted than his reputation would suggest. Bart Beaty is associate professor of communication and culture at the University of Calgary. His work has been published in the Comics Journal, International Journal of Comic Art, Canadian Journal of Communication, Essays in Canadian Writing, and Canadian Review of American Studies.
Race, Rap, and the Performance of Masculinity
This multilayered study of the representation of black masculinity in musical and cultural performance takes aim at the reduction of African American male culture to stereotypes of deviance, misogyny, and excess. Broadening the significance of hip-hop culture by linking it to other expressive forms within popular culture, Miles White examines how these representations have both encouraged the demonization of young black males in the United States and abroad and contributed to the construction of their identities._x000B__x000B_From Jim Crow to Jay-Z traces black male representations to chattel slavery and American minstrelsy as early examples of fetishization and commodification of black male subjectivity. Continuing with diverse discussions including black action films, heavyweight prizefighting, Elvis Presley's performance of blackness, and white rappers such as Vanilla Ice and Eminem, White establishes a sophisticated framework for interpreting and critiquing black masculinity in hip-hop music and culture. Arguing that black music has undeniably shaped American popular culture and that hip-hop tropes have exerted a defining influence on young male aspirations and behavior, White draws a critical link between the body, musical sound, and the construction of identity.
Globalization, Revolution, and Popular Culture
From Kung Fu to Hip Hop looks at the revolutionary potential of popular culture in the sociohistorical context of globalization. Author M. T. Kato examines Bruce Lee’s movies, the countercultural aesthetics of Jimi Hendrix, and the autonomy of the hip hop nation to reveal the emerging revolutionary paradigm in popular culture. The analysis is contextualized in a discussion of social movements from the popular struggle against neoimperialism in Asia, to the antiglobalization movements in the Third World, and to the global popular alliances for the reconstruction of an alternative world. Kato presents popular cultural revolution as a mirror image of decolonization struggles in an era of globalization, where progressive artistic expressions are aligned with new modes of subjectivity and collective identity.