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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.
Confessions of an Inside Man
In airports and train stations it is not unusual for waiting passengers to be approached by a person who will hand out a brochure or trinket, then indicate that he or she is deaf and ask for payment, anything they can afford. In many instances, the travelers feel pity for the poor unfortunate and dole out a dollar or two, yet most are utterly unaware that these pitiful beggars earn hundred of dollars this way in a matter of a few hours. Dennis Buck knows this unique form of panhandling intimately because, despite holding a degree in computer science and receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), he was a deaf peddler for 11 years. In Deaf Peddler: Confessions of an Inside Man, Buck unveils all of the ins and outs of exploiting his “disabilities” to earn easy money. Buck details the day-to-day life of a deaf peddler, including where to go to make the most money in the least time (airports with their constant transient clientele, malls on weekends, and fast food restaurants), how to live on the cheap (wait for people checking out to leave their motel rooms, then sneak in to use the shower), and how to live well when business is good. He also explains how he organized his rounds using a spreadsheet program. Deaf Peddler also provides a historical perspective on deaf peddling as a way for under-educated deaf people to make a living when jobs were hard to find, wages were low, and Social Security did not exist. The “no good” life served as the rationale to many deaf people for peddling, but many more in the Deaf community deplored their actions, and the National Association of the Deaf campaigned to discourage this behavior that reinforced deaf stereotypes. Buck abandoned peddling himself for this reason, but he points out that deaf peddling survives today, frequently in the highly exploitative form of rings of deaf workers completely controlled by oppressive deaf and hearing overseers. Deaf Peddler presents in engaging fashion a little-known cultural phenomenon that offers a revealing turn on the general issue of panhandling in our society today.
How is it that comic books—the once reviled form of lowbrow popular culture—are now the rage for Hollywood blockbusters, the basis for bestselling video games, and the inspiration for literary graphic novels? In Demanding Respect, Paul Lopes immerses himself in the discourse and practices of this art and subculture to provide a social history of the American comic book over the last 75 years.
Lopes analyzes the cultural production, reception, and consumption of American comic books throughout American history. He charts the rise of superheroes, the proliferation of serials, and the emergence of graphic novels. Demanding Respect explores how comic books born in the 1930s were perceived as a “menace” in the 1950s, only to later become collectors’ items and eventually “hip” fiction in the 1980s through today.
Using a theoretical framework to examine the construction of comic book culture—the artists, publishers, readers and fans—Lopes explains how and why comic books have captured the public’s imagination and gained a fanatic cult following.
Television in American Culture
In Demographic Vistas, David Marc shows how we can take television seriously within the humanist tradition while enjoying it on its own terms. To deal with the barrage of messages from television's chaotic history, Marc adapts tools of theatrical and literary criticism to focus on key personalities and genres in ways that reward serious students and casual viewers alike.
This updated edition includes a new foreword by Horace Newcomb and a new introduction by the author that discusses the ways in which the nature of television criticism has changed since the book's original publication in 1984. A new final chapter explores the paradox of the diminishing importance of over-the-air broadcasting during the period of television's greatest expansion, which has been brought about by complex technologies such as cable, videocassette recorders, and online services.
Masculinity and the Hollywood Detective Film
Detecting Men examines the history of the Hollywood detective genre and the ways that detective films have negotiated changing social attitudes toward masculinity, heroism, law enforcement, and justice. Genre film can be a site for the expression and resolution of problematic social issues, but while there have been many studies of such other male genres as war films, gangster films, and Westerns, relatively little attention has been paid to detective films beyond film noir. In this volume, Philippa Gates examines classical films of the thirties and forties as well as recent examples of the genre, including Die Hard, the Lethal Weapon films, The Usual Suspects, Seven, Devil in a Blue Dress, and Murder by Numbers, in order to explore social anxieties about masculinity and crime and Hollywood’s conceptions of gender. Up until the early 1990s, Gates argues, the primary focus of the detective genre was the masculinity of the hero. However, from the mid-1990s onward, the genre has shifted to more technical portrayals of crime scene investigation, forensic science, and criminal profiling, offering a reassuring image of law enforcement in the face of violent crime. By investigating the evolution of the detective film, Gates suggests, perhaps we can detect the male.
History and Art in Historical Crime Fiction
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
Vol. 1 (1999) through current issue
Diaspora is dedicated to the multidisciplinary study of the history, culture, social structure, politics and economics of both the traditional diasporas – Armenian, Greek, and Jewish – and those transnational dispersions which in the past three decades have chosen to identify themselves as ‘diasporas.’ These encompass groups ranging from the African-American to the Ukrainian-Canadian, from the Caribbean-British to the new East and South Asian diasporas.
Vol. 10, no. 3 (1998) - vol. 15 (2004)
differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies first appeared in 1989 at the moment of a critical encounter--a head-on collision, one might say--of theories of difference (primarily Continental) and the politics of diversity (primarily American). In the ensuing years, the journal has established a critical forum where the problematic of differences is explored in texts ranging from the literary and the visual to the political and social. differences highlights theoretical debates across the disciplines that address the ways concepts and categories of difference--notably but not exclusively gender--operate within culture.
Judy Chicago and the Power of Popular Feminism, 1970-2007