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Thirsty for a nerdy discussion of science, technology, ethics, and popular fiction? Dr. Jennifer Terrell and Iris Bull (Ph.D. student) talk each week about their ongoing college course designed and organized around these topics. We start by asking, “What is the role of popular culture texts in the construction of sociotechnical ethics?” We then spend 15 weeks answering that question together using frameworks unique to the field of science and technology studies, conceived of by historians, s ...
 
What does ‘2001: a Space Odyssey’ have to do with Odysseus? How does Brad Pitt's Achilles in 'Troy' match up to Homer's original hero? And is Arnold Schwarzenegger the new Heracles? This collection of video animations and audio discussions examines how the heroes of Greek mythology have been represented in popular culture, from ancient times to the modern day. Odysseus is the archetypal questing hero - a blank canvas on which every era has projected its own values. Heracles is the original s ...
 
What does ‘2001: a Space Odyssey’ have to do with Odysseus? How does Brad Pitt's Achilles in 'Troy' match up to Homer's original hero? And is Arnold Schwarzenegger the new Heracles? This collection of video animations and audio discussions examines how the heroes of Greek mythology have been represented in popular culture, from ancient times to the modern day. Odysseus is the archetypal questing hero - a blank canvas on which every era has projected its own values. Heracles is the original s ...
 
NEON is a different way of sharing historical knowledge. NEON takes a pop culture phenomenon and turns it on its head by revealing lesser known facts, real-life events and history behind your favourite Netflix shows, movies or video games.From how the A-Team took inspiration from Vietnamese history and resistance leaders, to the Aryan purity and Harem breeding programs behind the Handmaid’s Tale. Even some of the most successful video games – Assassins Creed, God of War, and Fortnite – are s ...
 
The aim of this series is to offer insights into key moments in the story of Irish popular culture since the publication of Thomas Moore's Irish Melodies in the early nineteenth century. If the story of transnational Irish popular culture begins with Thomas Moore in the early nineteenth century, it wasn't until the end of the 1800s that writers and intellectuals began to theorize the impact of mass cultural production on the Irish psyche during the industrial century. In 1892 Douglas Hyde, s ...
 
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show series
 
Rachael Hutchinson and Jérémie Pelletier-Gagnon's edited volume Japanese Role-Playing Games: Genre, Representation, and Liminality in the JRPG (Lexington Books, 2022) examines the origins, boundaries, and transnational effects of the genre, addressing significant formal elements as well as narrative themes, character construction, and player involv…
 
The three protagonists of Pasta, Pizza and Propaganda: A Political History of Italian Food TV (Intellect, 2022) are food, television and politics. These are the three main characters that interrelate, collaborate and fight behind the scenes, while in front of the camera the writers, intellectuals and celebrity chefs talk about, prepare or taste the…
 
Image by image and hashtag by hashtag, Instagram has redefined the ways we relate to food. Emily J. H. Contois and Zenia Kish edit contributions that explore the massively popular social media platform as a space for self-identification, influence, transformation, and resistance. Artists and journalists join a wide range of scholars to look at food…
 
In Monstrous Youth: Transgressing the Boundaries of Childhood in the United States (Ohio State Press, 2022), Sara Austin traces the evolution of monstrosity as it relates to youth culture from the 1950s to the present day to spotlight the symbiotic relationship between monstrosity and the bodies and identities of children and adolescents. Examining…
 
andré carrington talks about the origins of contemporary fandoms, race and gender as its determinants, and its emancipatory potential in the face of cooption by big media conglomerates. Besides andrés book Speculative Blackness, references are made, among other things, to the work of Carolyn Dinshaw, and the popular fandoms of Doctor Who, Star Wars…
 
Media of the Masses: Cassette Culture in Modern Egypt (Stanford UP, 2022) investigates the social life of an everyday technology—the cassette tape—to offer a multisensory history of modern Egypt. Over the 1970s and 1980s, cassettes became a ubiquitous presence in Egyptian homes and stores. Audiocassette technology gave an opening to ordinary indivi…
 
John and Elizabeth look back at Recall This Book’s terrific 2019 conversation with Zadie Smith , so you may want to listen to that again before proceeding Elizabeth and John try their best to unpack Zadie Smith’s take on sincerity, authenticity and human sacredness; the “golden ticket” dirty secret behind our hypocritical academic meritocracy; surv…
 
In 1975, design engineer Dave Nutting completed work on a new arcade machine. A version of Taito's Western Gun, a recent Japanese arcade machine, Nutting's Gun Fight depicted a classic showdown between gunfighters. Rich in Western folklore, the game seemed perfect for the American market; players easily adapted to the new technology, becoming pisto…
 
Sarah Teasley's Designing Modern Japan (Reaktion, 2022) unpicks the history of Japanese design from the mid-nineteenth century to the end of the twentieth, focusing on continuities and disruptions within communities and practices of design. Designing Modern Japan explores design in the unfolding contexts of modernization, empire and war, defeat and…
 
Edward Anthony Avery-Natale's book Ethics, Politics, and Anarcho-Punk Identifications: Punk and Anarchy in Philadelphia (Lexington, 2016) explores the ways in which those who identify as punks and anarchists living in the Philadelphia area construct their identifications narratively through the use of ethics. The book shows that contemporary subcul…
 
We are living in an era of unprecedented access to popular culture: contemporary digital infrastructure provides anyone with an internet connection access to a dizzying array of cultural objects past and present, which mingle and connect in fascinating, bizarre and sometimes troubling ways. In Black Ephemera: The Crisis and Challenge of the Musical…
 
In Ode to Gen X: Institutional Cynicism in "Stranger Things" and 1980s Film (University Press of Mississippi, 2021), Melissa Vosen Callens explores the parallels between iconic films featuring children and teenagers and the first three seasons of Stranger Things, a series about a group of young friends set in 1980s Indiana. The text moves beyond th…
 
The Jazz Masters: Setting the Record Straight (UP of Mississippi, 2021) is a celebration of jazz and the men and women who created and transformed it. In the twenty-one conversations contained in this engaging and highly accessible book, we hear from the musicians themselves, in their own words, direct and unfiltered. Peter Zimmerman’s interviewing…
 
The #metoo movement has forced many fans to consider what they should do when they learn that a beloved artist has acted immorally. One natural thought is that fans ought to give up the artworks of immoral artists, but according to Mary Beth Willard, it’s hard to find good reasons to do so. In Why It's OK to Enjoy the Work of Immoral Artists (Routl…
 
The internet’s potential to perform political miracles has been a source of both hope and disappointment for many grassroots movements. We remember that the Sanders campaign tried to master the meme to mobilise a young, eager audience. Equally, we ascribe Trump’s electoral victory in 2016 to seemingly leaderless internet misinformation.Many of such…
 
From trade to technology to military might, competition between the United States and China dominates the foreign policy landscape. But this battle for global influence is also playing out in a strange and unexpected arena: the movies. The film industry, Wall Street Journal reporter Erich Schwartzel explains, is the latest battleground in the tense…
 
Virtuality has entered our lives making anything we desire possible. We are, as Gorillaz once sang, in an exciting age where 'the digital won't let [us] go…' Technology has revolutionized music, especially in the 21st century where the traditional rules and conventions of music creation, consumption, distribution, promotion, and performance have be…
 
In this 2019 episode, John interviews the celebrated British writer Zadie Smith. The conversation quickly moves through Brexit (oh, the inhumanity!) and what it means to be a London–no, a Northwest London–writer before arriving at her case against identity politics. That case is bolstered by a discussion of Hannah Arendt on the difference between w…
 
It was the Golden Age of Radio and powerful men were making millions in advertising dollars reaching thousands of listeners every day. When television arrived, few radio moguls were interested in the upstart industry and its tiny production budgets, and expensive television sets were out of reach for most families. But four women--each an independe…
 
In this episode Kim talks to Adrienne Raphel about crossword puzzles. For lots more about crosswords, check out Adrienne’s book Thinking Inside the Box: Adventures with Crosswords and the Puzzling People Who Can’t Live Without Them (Penguin Random House, 2021) For some of the historical puzzles she mentions in the episode, Adrienne recommends The C…
 
In The Digital Closet: How the Internet Became Straight (MIT Press, 2022), Alexander Monea argues provocatively that the internet became straight by suppressing everything that is not, forcing LGBTQIA+ content into increasingly narrow channels--rendering it invisible through opaque algorithms, automated and human content moderation, warped keywords…
 
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers across East and Southeast Asia have found themselves turning to Thai soap operas known as “Boys Love series” as a source of comfort and joy. Originally deriving from Japanese comic book culture, Boys Love, or BL, represents just one of many instances where the queer popular culture of Japan ha…
 
Dr. Christopher Gilbert, Assistant Professor of English at Assumption College, has a new book that examines the understanding of American national character and culture through the works of caricature and comic representations. Gilbert specifically focuses on this kind of work that is produced during moments of crisis, particularly during wartime. …
 
Today I talked to Mike Errico about his new book Music, Lyrics, and Life: A Field Guide for the Advancing Songwriter (Backbeat Books, 2022). Brain teasers invite you; brain embarrassers are songs you can’t get a handle on readily enough, causing listeners to give up. That is but one of the many fine distinctions Mike Errico makes in this engaging, …
 
Today I speak with Alejandro Nava about his new book, Street Scriptures: Between God and Hip-Hop (U Chicago Press, 2022). This book explores an important aspect of hip-hop that is rarely considered: its deep entanglement with spiritual life. The world of hip-hop is saturated with religion, but rarely is that element given serious consideration. In …
 
Popular representations of the past are everywhere in Japan, from cell phone charms to manga, from television dramas to video games to young people dressed as their favorite historical figures hanging out in the hip Harajuku district. But how does this mass consumption of the past affect the way consumers think about history and what it means to be…
 
Through his blog K-Punk, Mark Fisher become one of the cult figures of cultural theory after the economic crash of 2008. One of Fisher’s insights, widely taken up by the online memesphere, was that capitalism breeds depression. Mike Watson picks up Fisher’s prognosis when the locked-down pandemic world is mired in a depression that is economic and …
 
Why has "car society" proven so durable, even in the face of mounting environmental and economic crises? In Globalizing Automobilism: Exuberance and the Emergence of Layered Mobility, 1900–1980 (Berghahn Books, 2020), Gijs Mom traces the global spread of the automobile in the postwar era and investigates why adopting more sustainable forms of mobil…
 
When looking at historic records of all kinds—from prehistoric cave drawings and ancient rock art in Africa and India, from poetic narrations of travelers to hunter memoirs and press stories about zoos, from reports of mystical graveyards to museum warehouses collecting bones—notions about elephants in the West have come a long way. These ideas (th…
 
In Black Dragon: Afro Asian Performance and the Martial Arts Imagination (Ohio State UP, 2022), Zachary F. Price illuminates martial arts as a site of knowledge exchange between Black, Asian, and Asian American people and cultures to offer new insights into the relationships among these historically marginalized groups. Drawing on case studies that…
 
Sports fandom isn't what it used to be. Owners and executives increasingly count on the blind loyalty of their fans and too often act against the team's best interest. Intentionally tanking a season to get a high draft pick, scamming local governments to build cushy new stadiums, and actively subverting the players have become business as usual in …
 
What are the rights and wrongs of toppling statues? Sometimes everyone agrees it’s a good idea. After the second world war, for example, the defeat of fascism meant that all over Europe Hitler statues were toppled and destroyed. After the collapse of communism some statues of Stalin actually survived. Just a couple of years ago Black Lives Matter p…
 
Nancy Barile shares her love of hardcore punk in her new memoir, I'm Not Holding Your Coat: My Bruises and All Memoir of Punk Rock Rebellion (Bazillion Points, 2022). From disaffected Catholic schoolgirl and glam maniac to instigator on the 1980s hardcore punk scene, Barile discovered freedom at a time when punk music was new and dangerous. She mad…
 
Sissy Insurgencies: A Racial Anatomy of Unfit Manliness (Duke University Press, 2022) by Marlon B. Ross focuses on the figure of the sissy in order to rethink how Americans have imagined, articulated, and negotiated manhood and boyhood from the 1880s to the present. Rather than collapsing sissiness into homosexuality, Ross shows how it constitutes …
 
From its early days as a sport to build “muscular Christianity” among young men flooding nineteenth-century cities to its position today as a global symbol of American culture, basketball has been a force in American society. It grew through high school gymnasiums, college pep rallies, and the fits and starts of professionalization. It was a playgr…
 
Demons! Nightmares with the Bible: The Good Book and Cinematic Demons (2021) published by Fortress Academic views demons through two lenses: that of western religion and that of cinema. Sketching out the long fear of demons in western history, including the Bible, Steve A. Wiggins moves on to analyze how popular movies inform our beliefs about demo…
 
The first in a new LSU Press series exploring facets of Louisiana’s iconic culture, Mardi Gras Beads (2022) delves into the history of this celebrated New Orleans artifact, explaining how Mardi Gras beads came to be in the first place and how they grew to have such an outsize presence in New Orleans celebrations. It explores their origins before Wo…
 
Dr. Sam Lebovic’s A Righteous Smokescreen: Postwar America and the Politics of Cultural Globalization (University of Chicago Press, 2022) is an examination of how the postwar United States twisted its ideal of “the free flow of information” into a one-sided export of values and a tool with global consequences. When the dust settled after World War …
 
Angelina Eimannsberger talks to Saronik about cultural phenomenon Jonathan Van Ness, and movements in queer femininity that they represent. They touch briefly on Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth, Jean Genet’s Notre Dame des Fleurs, Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider, Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness, and the hashtag #transisbeautiful inaugurated by La…
 
Why do corporations fund cultural organisations and events? In Black Culture, Inc: How ethnic community support pays for corporate America Patricia Banks, Professor of Sociology at Mount Holyoke College, explores the role of corporate funding in shaping cultural life, from historical examples of tobacco advertising and media, through to contemporar…
 
Stand-up comedians have a long history of walking a careful line between serious and playful engagement with social issues: Lenny Bruce questioned the symbolic valence of racial slurs, Dick Gregory took time away from the stage to speak alongside Martin Luther King Jr., and—more recently—Tig Notaro challenged popular notions of damaged or abject bo…
 
Spanning the decades from the rise of photography to the age of the selfie, The Culture of Male Beauty in Britain: From the First Photographs to David Beckham (University of Chicago Press, 2021) traces the complex visual and consumer cultures that shaped masculine beauty in Britain, examining the realms of advertising, health, pornography, psycholo…
 
Today I talked to Corey Landon Wozniak about his Revealer article (2022) "The Buddha at the Bellagio: (Teaching) Religion in Sin City." As Wozniak points out, Las Vegas (for all that it's sin city) is full of religion, all kinds of it. He talks about how religion is done in America's Sodom and Gomorrah rolled into one. Learn more about your ad choi…
 
Written in straightforward, jargon-free language, Nancy Pedri's A Concise Dictionary of Comics (University Press of Mississippi, 2022) guides students, researchers, readers, and educators of all ages and at all levels of comics expertise. It provides them with a dictionary that doubles as a compendium of comics scholarship. A Concise Dictionary of …
 
In the late ’90s, third-wave ska broke across the American alternative music scene like a tsunami. In sweaty clubs across the nation, kids danced themselves dehydrated to the peppy rhythms and punchy horns of bands like The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Reel Big Fish. As ska caught fire, a swing revival brought even more sharp-dressed, brass-packing …
 
American comics from the start have reflected the white supremacist culture out of which they arose. Superheroes and comic books in general are products of whiteness, and both signal and hide its presence. Even when comics creators and publishers sought to advance an antiracist agenda, their attempts were often undermined by a lack of awareness of …
 
In this episode, Dr. Brandon J. Manning talks about his most recent book, Played Out: The Race Man in 21st Century Satire (Rutgers UP, 2022). Here's a short description: through contemporary examples, including the work of Kendrick Lamar, Key and Peele and the presidency of Barack Obama and many others, Played Out: The Race Man in 21st Century Sati…
 
Elizabeth and John talk about fantasy's power of world-making with Edinburgh professor Anna Vaninskaya, author of William Morris and the Idea of Community: Romance, History and Propaganda, 1880-1914 ( 2010) and Fantasies of Time and Death: Dunsany, Eddison, Tolkien ( 2020). Anna uncovers the melancholy sense of displacement and loss running through…
 
Too often, vaudeville is seen from the perspective of its decline: it is the corny, messy art form that predated the book musical, or that gave us Chaplin, Keaton, and the Marx Brothers. Rarely is it seen as the populist avant-garde form it was at its height. David Hajdu and John Carey's graphic history, A Revolution in Three Acts: The Radical Vaud…
 
Privilege at Play: Class, Race, Gender, and Golf in Mexico (Oxford University Press, 2019) is a book about inequalities, social hierarchies, and privilege in contemporary Mexico. Based on ethnographic research conducted in exclusive golf clubs and in-depth interviews with upper-middle-class and upper-class golfers, as well as working-class employee…
 
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