Diffractions publishes reviews of books in Culture Studies and its related fields in any of the accepted languages (English, Portuguese and Spanish).
In line with our mission statement, we look forward to receiving book reviews that privilege an interdisciplinary outlook.
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A comprehensive overview of the film industry in Hollywood today, Contemporary Hollywood Cinema brings together leading international cinema scholars to explore the technology, institutions, film makers and movies of contemporary American film making.
Unruly Media: YouTube, Music Video, and the New Digital Cinema
2013 | Oxford University Press | 354 pages
Unruly Media argues that we are on the crest of a new international, intermedial style in which sonic and visual parameters become heightened and accelerated. This audiovisual turn, driven by digital technologies and socioeconomic changes, calls for new forms of attention. Post-classical cinema, with its multi-plot narratives and flashy style, fragments under the influence of audiovisual numbers and music-video-like sync. Music video, after migrating to the web, becomes more than a way of selling songs. YouTubes brief and low-res clips encompass many forms, and foreground reiteration, graphic values and affective intensity. All three of these media are riven by one another: a trajectory from YouTube through music video to the new digital cinema reveals structural commonalities, especially in the realms of rhythm, texture and form. Music video, YouTube, and postclassical cinema remain undertheorized. This is the first book to account for the current audiovisual landscape across medium and platform-to try to characterize the audiovisual swirl. Unruly Media includes both new theoretical models and readings of numerous current multimedia works. It also includes several chapters devoted to the oeuvre of highly popular directors, their films, commercials and music videos. Unruly Media argues that attending equally to soundtrack and image can show how these media work, and the ways they both mirror and shape our modern experience.
The Spectral Metaphor. Living Ghosts and the Agency of Invisibility
2014 | Palgrave Macmillan | 232 pages
What does it mean to live as a ghost? Exploring spectrality as a potent metaphor in the contemporary British and American cultural imagination, Peeren proposes that certain subjects – migrants, servants, mediums and missing persons – are perceived as living ghosts and examines how this impacts on their ability to develop agency. From detailed readings of films (Stephen Frearss Dirty Pretty Things, Nick Broomfields Ghosts and Robert Altmans Gosford Park), a television series (Upstairs, Downstairs) and novels (Hilary Mantels Beyond Black, Sarah Waterss Affinity, Ian McEwans The Child in Time and Bret Easton Elliss Lunar Park) emerges an inventive account of how the spectral metaphor, in its association with various modes of invisibility, can signify both dispossession and empowerment. In reworking the spectral insights of, among others, Jacques Derrida, Antonio Negri and Achille Mbembe, Peeren suggests new responses to the practices of marginalization and exploitation that characterize our globalized world.
The Cultural Impact of Kanye West
Julius Bailey (ed.)
2014 | Palgrave Macmillan | 290 pages
The ability of popular art to offer societal critiques and challenge received ideas has been recognized throughout history. Through rap and hip-hop, composers, singers, and entertainers have recently provided a voice questioning and challenging the sanctioned view of the times. This book offers an in-depth reading of the works and cultural impact of Kanye West. Looking at the moral and social implications of Wests words, images, and music in the broader context of Western civilizations preconceived ideas, the contributors consider how West both challenges religious and moral norms and propagates them.
Strategic Reinvention in Popular Culture. The Encore Impulse
2013 | Palgrave Macmillan | 260 pages
Not all original works invoke the encore impulse in their audiences. Those that do generally spawn replications - sequels, spin-offs, or re-makes. This book presents a theory of why some replications succeed and others fail. Pfefferman analyzes replication attempts across various genres and media using the theorys principles to reveal strategies for identifying and maintaining works with potential for an encore. The book ultimately shows how true strategic reinvention distinguishes itself from mere imitation or mimicry by encompassing its own type of originality by retaining the essence of the original, factoring in the new place and time, presenting itself as authentic, conveying relevant meaning, and tapping into universal themes. For anyone interested in what constitutes an innovative work, these are more than just replication techniques. They are tools for illuminating the core of the creative process itself.
Populäre Serialität: Narration - Evolution - Distinktion
Zum seriellen Erzählen seit dem 19. Jahrhundert
Frank Kelleter (ed.)
2014 | transcript | 404 pages
Wie lässt sich die starke Verbreitung von seriellen Erzählungen seit dem 19. Jahrhundert erklären? Welche neuen Erzählformate werden durch Serialisierung geschaffen? Wie beeinflussen populäre Serien unsere Wahrnehmung und Strukturierung sozialer Realität? Die Beiträge in diesem Band gehen diesen Fragen nach und zeigen u.a., welche Wandlungen Serienfiguren durchlaufen, wenn sie in neue Medien übertragen werden, oder wie bei lang laufenden Serien die Übergänge zwischen Produzenten und Nutzern immer fließender werden. So ergibt sich ein facettenreicher Blick auf einen wesensbestimmenden Erzähltypus der Populärkultur.
Facetten der Popkultur. Über die ästhetische und politische Kraft des Populären
Florian Niedlich (ed.)
2014 | transcript | 225 pages
Mittlerweile geht der Trend auch im deutschsprachigen Raum zu einer stärker differenzierten Perspektive auf die ästhetischen und politischen Potentiale der Popkultur. Dieser Entwicklung trägt der Band Rechnung. Die Beiträge befassen sich u.a. mit Popliteratur und Musikvideos, den Beatles und Hip-Hop, The Terminator und The Wrestler, Monty Python und Switch. Dabei thematisieren sie auch bislang unberücksichtigte Phänomene wie posthumanistische und Körper-Diskurse, Darstellungen des Alter(n)s und religiöse Eschatologie. Das Buch kombiniert prägnante Einzelanalysen mit einem profunden Einstieg in die Popkulturforschung und liefert einen Überblick über die dort aktuell geführten Debatten. Eine Untersuchung des Phänomens Pop in seinen vielfältigen Facetten.
Fetishism and Culture. A Different Theory of Modernity
2014 | Walter de Gruyter | 400 pages
Hartmut Böhme’s study of fetishism spans all the way from Christian image magic in the Middle Ages to fetishistic practices in fashion, advertising, sport and popular culture today. In it he provides a thorough exploration of religion, magic, idolatry, sexuality and consumption, charting the mental, scientific and artistic processes through which fetishism became a central category in European culture’s account of itself.
Popular Music Fandom. Identities, Roles and Practices
2014 | Routledge | 234 pages
This book explores popular music fandom from a cultural studies perspective that incorporates popular music studies, audience research, and media fandom. The essays draw together recent work on fandom in popular music studies and begin a dialogue with the wider field of media fan research, raising questions about how popular music fandom can be understood as a cultural phenomenon and how much it has changed in light of recent developments. Exploring the topic in this way broaches questions on how to define, theorize, and empirically research popular music fan culture, and how music fandom relates to other roles, practices, and forms of social identity. Fandom itself has been brought center stage by the rise of the internet and an industrial structure aiming to incorporate, systematize, and legitimate dimensions of it as an emotionally-engaged form of consumerism. Once perceived as the pariah practice of an overly attached audience, media fandom has become a standardized industrial subject-position called upon to sell box sets, concert tickets, new television series, and special editions. Meanwhile, recent scholarship has escaped the legacy of interpretations that framed fans as passive, pathological, or defiantly empowered, taking its object seriously as a complex formation of identities, roles, and practices. While popular music studies has examined some forms of identity and audience practice, such as the way that people use music in daily life and listener participation in subcultures, scenes and, tribes, this volume is the first to examine music fans as a specific object of study.
Serialization in Popular Culture
Rob Allen, Thijs van den Berg
2014 | Routledge | 210 pages
From prime-time television shows and graphic novels to the development of computer game expansion packs, the recent explosion of popular serials has provoked renewed interest in the history and economics of serialization, as well as the impact of this cultural form on readers, viewers, and gamers. In this volume, contributors—literary scholars, media theorists, and specialists in comics, graphic novels, and digital culture—examine the economic, narratological, and social effects of serials from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century and offer some predictions of where the form will go from here.
From Popular Culture to Everyday Life
2014 | Routledge | 150 pages
From Popular Culture to Everyday Life presents a critical exploration of the development of everyday life as an object of study in cultural analysis, wherein John Storey addresses the way in which everyday life is beginning to replace popular culture as a primary concept in cultural studies.
Storey presents a range of different ways of thinking theoretically about the everyday; from Freudian and Marxist approaches, to chapters exploring topics such as consumption, mediatization and phenomenological sociology. The book concludes, drawing from the previous nine chapters, with notes towards a definition of what everyday life might look like as a pedagogic object of study in cultural studies.
This is an ideal introduction to the theories of everyday life for both undergraduate and postgraduate students of cultural studies, communication studies and media studies.
Asian Popular Culture. Global (Dis)Continuity
Anthony Y. H. Fung
2013 | Routledge | 274 pages
This book examines different aspects of Asian popular culture, including films, TV, music, comedy, folklore, cultural icons, the Internet and theme parks. It raises important questions such as – What are the implications of popularity of Asian popular culture for globalization? Do regional forces impede the globalizing of cultures? Or does the Asian popular culture flow act as a catalyst or conveying channel for cultural globalization? Does the globalization of culture pose a threat to local culture? It addresses two seemingly contradictory and yet parallel processes in the circulation of Asian popular culture: the interconnectedness between Asian popular culture and western culture in an era of cultural globalization that turns subjects such as Pokémon, Hip Hop or Cosmopolitan into truly global phenomena, and the local derivatives and versions of global culture that are necessarily disconnected from their origins in order to cater for the local market. It thereby presents a collective argument that, whilst local social formations, and patterns of consumption and participation in Asia are still very much dependent on global cultural developments and the phenomena of modernity, yet such dependence is often concretized, reshaped and distorted by the local media to cater for the local market.
Redefining Mainstream Popular Music
Sarah Baker, Andy Bennett, Jodie Taylor
2013 | Routledge | 240 pages
Redefining Mainstream Popular Music is a collection of seventeen essays that critically examines the idea of the "mainstream" in and across a variety of popular music styles and contexts. Notions of what is popular vary across generations and cultures – what may have been considered alternative to one group may be perceived as mainstream to another. Incorporating a wide range of popular music texts, genres, scenes, practices and technologies from the United Kingdom, North America, Australia and New Zealand, the authors theoretically challenge and augment our understanding of how the mainstream is understood and functions in the overlapping worlds of popular music production, consumption and scholarship. Spanning the local and the global, the historic and contemporary, the iconic and the everyday, the book covers a broad range of genres, from punk to grunge to hip-hop, while also considering popular music through other mediums, including mash-ups and the music of everyday work life. Redefining Mainstream Popular Music provides readers with an innovative and nuanced perspective of what it means to be mainstream.
Performance and Popular Music: History, Place and Time
2013 | Asghate Publishing | 222 pages
Since the emergence of rock’n’roll in the early 1950s, there have been a number of live musical performances that became hugely influential in the way they shaped the subsequent trajectory and development of popular music. Each, in its own way, introduced new styles, confronted existing practices, shifted accepted definitions, and provided templates for others to follow. Performance And Popular Music explores these processes by focusing on some of the specific occasions when such transformations occurred. An international array of scholars reveal that it is through the dynamics of performance – and the interaction between performer and audience – that patterns of musical change and innovation can best be recognised.
Feeling Film: Affect and Authenticity in Popular Cinema
2014 | Routledge | 264 pages
Cinema has the capacity to enflame our passions, to arouse our pity, to inspire our love. Feeling Film is a book that examines the emotional encounters found in contemporary popular cinema cultures. Examining melodrama, film noir, comic book franchises, cult indie movies and romantic comedy within the context of a Jungian-informed psychology and contemporary movements in film-philosophy, this book considers the various kinds of feelings engendered by our everyday engagements with cinema.
Masculinity in the Contemporary Romantic Comedy: Gender as Genre
2013 | Routledge | 136 pages
This volume addresses the growing obsolescence of traditional constructions of masculine identity in popular romantic comedies by proposing an approach that combines gender and genre theory to examine the ongoing radical reconstruction of gender roles in these films. Alberti creates a unified theory of gender role change in the movies that combines the insights of both poststructuralist gender and narrative genre theory, avoiding binary approaches to the study of gender representation. He establishes the current "crises" in both gender representation and genre development within romantic comedies as examples of experimentation and change towards narratives that feature more egalitarian and less essentialist constructions of gender.
Online Games, Social Narratives
2014 | Routledge | 208 pages
The study of online gaming is changing. It is no longer enough to analyse one type of online community in order to understand the plethora of players who take part in online worlds and the behaviours they exhibit. MacCallum-Stewart studies the different ways in which online games create social environments and how players choose to interpret these. These games vary from the immensely popular social networking games on Facebook such as Farmville to Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games to "Free to Play" online gaming and console communities such as players of Xbox Live and PS3 games. Each chapter deals with a different aspect of social gaming online, breaking down when games are social and what narrative devices make them so. This cross-disciplinary study will appeal to those interested in cyberculture, the evolution of gaming technology, and sociologies of media.
Popular Culture in Asia: Memory, City, Celebrity
Lorna Fitzsimmons | John A. Lent
2013 | Palgrave Macmillan | 240 pages
This book provides perspectives on relationships between Asian popular culture and a number of major socio-political issues and movements, including war responsibility, democratization, globalization, urbanization, modernization, and gender reconstruction. It consists of studies of film, music, television, anime, architecture, and computer-mediated communication in China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore. Themes include the relationships between popular culture and nationalism, Western social forces and cultural forms, regionalism, political change, modernity, traditionalism, and gender identity. The three sections of the book—memory, city, celebrity—are interlinked in their shared concern with the socio-political functions of popular culture.
Gender and Popular Culture
Katie Milestone | Anneke Meyer
2013 | Polity Press| 200 pages
This book examines the role of popular culture in the construction of gendered identities in contemporary society. It draws on a wide range of popular cultural forms - including popular music, newspapers and television - to illustrate how femininity and masculinity are produced, represented and consumed.
The authors blend primary and secondary research to offer the reader a balanced yet novel overview of the area. Students are introduced to key theories and concepts in the fields of gender studies and popular culture, which are made accessible and interesting through their application to topical examples such as DJs, binge drinking and computer games.
The book is structured into three clear, user-friendly sections:
1. Production, gender and popular culture: An investigation of who produces popular culture, why gendered patterns occur, and how they impact on content.
2. Representation, gender and popular culture: An examination of how men and women are represented in contemporary popular culture, and how notions of (in)appropriate femininity and masculinity are constructed.
3. Consumption, gender and popular culture: An exploration of who consumes what in popular culture, how gendered consumption relates to space, and what the effects of consuming representations of gender are.
Memory of Fire: Images of War and the War of Images
2013 | Photoworks | 256 pages
Memory of Fire is an unparalleled visual, theoretical and historical resource about the photography of war, and how images are used as instruments of war.
With essays and interviews by prominent theorists, artists and photographers the book covers the urgent issues of the depiction of war, the use of images of war by the media, various forms of censorship, the military as a PR and image-producing machine, the circulation of unofficial images and the impact of the digital mediascape.
High-level critical texts about the image war and the reproduction of some of the most compelling images of war, offer readers a unique experience. Memory of Fire draws on content gathered for the critically acclaimed 2008 Brighton Photo Biennial, curated by the book’s editor Julian Stallabrass, supplemented with commissioned texts and interviews.
Covering a range of twentieth-century war photography from the Russian Revolution to current wars, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan, many types of images are illustrated and analysed, from large-scale museum photography and artist installations, through photojournalism and official army propaganda, through to amateur images made by soldiers.
Edited by Julian Stallabrass
Essays by Coco Fusco, Stefaan Decostere, Sarah James, Rita Leistner and Julian Stallabrass
Interviews with Broomberg and Chanarin, Ashley Gilbertson, Philip Jones Griffiths, Geert van Kesteren and Trevor Paglen.
Illustrations including work by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, Kael Alford, Ashley Gilbertson, Thomas Hirschhorn, Frank Hurley, Benjamin Lowy, Simon Norfolk, and Paul Seawright
The war that won´t die. The Spanish Civil War in cinema
2012 | Manchester University Press | 224 pages
The war that won´t die charts the changing nature of cinematic depictions of the Spanish Civil War. In 1936, a significant number of artists, filmmakers and writers – from George Orwell and Pablo Picasso to Joris Ivens and Joan Miró – rallied to support the country´s democratically-elected Republican government. The arts have played an important role in shaping popular understandings of the Spanish Civil War and this book examines the specific role cinema has played in this process. The book´s focus is on fictional feature films produced within Spain and beyond its borders between the 1940s and the early years of the twenty-first century – including Hollywood blockbusters, East European films, the work of the avant garde in Paris and films produced under Franco´s censorial dictatorship. The book will appeal to scholars and students of Film, Media and Hispanic Studies, but also to historians and, indeed, anyone interested in why the Spanish Civil War remains such a contested political topic.
The Ironic Spectator: Solidarity in the Age of Post-Humanitarianism
2013 |Polity Press | 248 pages
This path-breaking book explores how solidarity towards vulnerable others is performed in our media environment. It argues that stories where famine is described through our own experience of dieting or or where solidarity with Africa translates into wearing a cool armband tell us about much more than the cause that they attempt to communicate. They tell us something about the ways in which we imagine the world outside ourselves.
By showing historical change in Amnesty International and Oxfam appeals, in the Live Aid and Live 8 concerts, in the advocacy of Audrey Hepburn and Angelina Jolie as well as in earthquake news on the BBC, this far-reaching book shows how solidarity has today come to be not about conviction but choice, not vision but lifestyle, not others but ourselves – turning us into the ironic spectators of other people’s suffering.
War Culture and the Contest of Images
2012 |Rutgers University Press | 272 pages
War Culture and the Contest of Images analyzes the relationships among contemporary war, documentary practices, and democratic ideals. Dora Apel examines a wide variety of images and cultural representations of war in the United States and the Middle East, including photography, performance art, video games, reenactment, and social media images. Simultaneously, she explores the merging of photojournalism and artistic practices, the effects of visual framing, and the construction of both sanctioned and counter-hegemonic narratives in a global contest of images.
As a result of the global visual culture in which anyone may produce as well as consume public imagery, the wide variety of visual and documentary practices present realities that would otherwise be invisible or officially off-limits. In our digital era, the prohibition and control of images has become nearly impossible to maintain. Using carefully chosen case studies—such as Krzysztof Wodiczko´s video projections and public works in response to 9/11 and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the performance works of Coco Fusco and Regina Galindo, and the practices of Israeli and Palestinian artists—Apel posits that contemporary war images serve as mediating agents in social relations and as a source of protection or refuge for those robbed of formal or state-sanctioned citizenship.
While never suggesting that documentary practices are objective translations of reality, Apel shows that they are powerful polemical tools both for legitimizing war and for making its devastating effects visible. In modern warfare and in the accompanying culture of war that capitalism produces as a permanent feature of modern society, she asserts that the contest of images is as critical as the war on the ground.
American War Cinema and Media since Vietnam: Politics, Ideology, and Class
2013 |Palgrave Macmillan | 276 pages
By the 1990s the Pentagon had greatly expanded its global and imperial reach and deeply embedded itself into the commerce and ideology of Hollywood war movies, video games, television, and the private arms industry. Post-Vietnam Hollywood attempted to resurrect the "good war". The Pentagon, Hollywood, video games, and the arms industry were now working in tandem, all hugely profiting. As always, paying the ultimate price for this commercial success were the working-class men and women who actually fight these wars. No other media genre more sharply illustrates the contradictions of American society, notions about social class, politics, and socio-economic ideology, than the war film. American War Cinema and Media Since Vietnam examines the representations of war in feature films and documentaries, television, and war video games since Vietnam to reveal how they illustrate the complexities and contradictions of America´s post-Vietnam wars of "discretion", class issues, commerce, and politics.
A Conspiracy of Images: Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter, and the Art of the Cold War
2013 |Yale University Press | 296 pages
In October 1962, a set of blurred surveillance photographs brought the world to the brink of nuclear apocalypse during the Cuban missile crisis. The pictures themselves demonstrated little, and explanatory captions were necessary to identify the danger for the public. In the following months, two artists with antithetical backgrounds arrived at a similar aesthetic: Andy Warhol, who began his career as a commercial artist in New York City, turned to the silkscreened replication of violent photographs. Gerhard Richter, who began as a mural painter in socialist Dresden, East Germany, painted blurred versions of personal and media photographs. In A Conspiracy of Images, author John J. Curley explores how the artists’ developing aesthetic approaches were informed by the political agency and ambiguity of images produced during the Cold War, particularly those disseminated by the mass media on both sides. As the first scholarly consideration of the visual conditions of the Cold War, A Conspiracy of Images provides a new and compelling transatlantic model for Cold War art history.
Image Warfare in the War on Terror
2013 | Palgrave Macmillan | 208 pages
Image Warfare in the War on Terror provides an innovative re-examination of the war on terror. It argues that since 11 September 2001 image warfare has replaced techno-war as the dominant warfighting model. Roger suggests that it is a form of warfare in which Al Qaeda currently dominates while the West is still playing catch-up. By dealing frankly with the deployment of disturbing images generated by the 9/11 attacks – from bin Laden videos, suicide terrorism and hostage executions to prisoner abuses, Roger provides us with a new vocabulary through which these acts can be discussed and understood.
This book offers the first comprehensive assessment, from an International Relations perspective, of image warfare. Through engagement with IR, Media Studies and Visual Culture literatures, Roger introduces three new conceptual terms "image munitions", "counter-image munitions" and "remediation battles". These terms are then explored in chapters about political communications concerning Bush, Blair and bin Laden; suicides; executions and abuses.
Specters of War
2012 | Rutgers University Press | 336 pages
Specters of War looks at the way war has been brought to the screen in various genres and at different historical moments throughout the twentieth century. Elisabeth Bronfen asserts that Hollywood has emerged as a place where national narratives are created and circulated so that audiences can engage with fantasies, ideologies, and anxieties that take hold at a given time, only to change with the political climate. Such cultural reflection is particuarly poignant when it deals with America traumatic history of war. The nation has no direct access to war as a horrific experience of carnage and human destruction and understand our relation to it through images and narratives that transmit and interpret it for us. Bronfen does not discuss actual conflicts but the films by which we have come to know and remember them, including All Quiet on the Western Front, The Best Years of Our Lives, Miracle at St. Anna, The Deer Hunter, and Flags of Our Fathers. Battles and campaigns, the home front and women-who-wait narratives, war correspondents, and court martials are also explored as instruments of cultural memory. Bronfen argues that we are haunted by past wars and by cinematic re-conceptualizations of them and reveals a national iconography of redemptive violence from which we seem unable to escape.
Plots of War. Modern Narratives of Conflict
Isabel Capeloa Gil | Adriana Martins
2012 | Walter de Gruyter | 222 pages
Plots of War: Modern Narratives of Conflict discusses the dynamics of change and transformation that underlie the troubled project of modernity and shows how deeply it has been shaped by war and violence. The narrative of war, the emplotment of violence in historic and mainly in symbolic terms, is deeply embedded in the construction of individual and collective memories, but it also helps to shape the mediation of future conflicts.What is ultimately at stake here is the complex figuration and mediation of the violence of war in ever more hyper-mediated ways with direct consequences to the production of identities and processes of cultural memory.
The Persistence of Hollywood
2011 | Routledge | 400 pages
While Hollywood’s success – its persistence – has remained constant for almost one hundred years, the study of its success has undergone significant expansion and transformation. Since the 1960s, Thomas Elsaesser’s research has spearheaded the study of Hollywood, beginning with his classic essays on auteurism and cinephilia, focused around a director’s themes and style, up to his analysis of the "corporate authorship" of contemporary director James Cameron. In between, he has helped to transform film studies by incorporating questions of narrative, genre, desire, ideology and, more recently, Hollywood’s economic-technological infrastructure and its place within global capitalism.
The Persistence of Hollywood brings together Elsaesser’s key writings about Hollywood filmmaking. It includes his detailed studies of individual directors (including Minnelli, Fuller, Ray, Hitchcock, Lang, Altman, Kubrick, Coppola, and Cameron), as well as essays charting the shifts from classic to corporate Hollywood by way of the New Hollywood and the resurgence of the blockbuster. The book also presents a history of the different critical-theoretical paradigms central to film studies in its analysis of Hollywood, from auteurism and cinephilia to textual analysis, Marxism, psychoanalysis, and post-industrial analysis.