New Books in Film

Marshall Poe

Interviews with Scholars of Film about their New Books Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/film

Start Here
Rebecca Weeks, "History by HBO: Televising the American Past" (UP of Kentucky, 2022)
5d ago
Rebecca Weeks, "History by HBO: Televising the American Past" (UP of Kentucky, 2022)
The television industry is changing, and with it, the small screen's potential to engage in debate and present valuable representations of American history. Founded in 1972, HBO has been at the forefront of these changes, leading the way for many network, cable, and streaming services into the "post-network" era. Despite this, most scholarship has been dedicated to analyzing historical feature films and documentary films, leaving TV and the long-form drama hungry for coverage. In History by HBO: Televising the American Past (UP of Kentucky, 2022), Rebecca Weeks fills the gap in this area of media studies and defends the historiographic power of long-form dramas. Dr. Weeks is a lecturer in the Bachelor of Art and Design Programme at Media Design School in Auckland, New Zealand. By focusing on this change and its effects, History by HBO outlines how history is crafted on television and the diverse forms it can take. Weeks examines the capabilities of the long-form serial for engaging with historical stories, insisting that the shift away from the network model and toward narrowcasting has enabled challenging histories to thrive in home settings. As an examination of HBO's unique structure for producing quality historical dramas, Weeks provides four case studies of HBO series set during different periods of United States history: Band of Brothers (2001), Deadwood (2004–2007), Boardwalk Empire (2012–2014), and Treme (2010–2013). In each case, HBO's lack of advertiser influence, commitment to creative freedom, and generous budgets continue to draw and retain talent who want to tell historical stories. Balancing historical and film theories in her assessment of the roles of mise-en–scène, characterization, narrative complexity, and sound in the production of effective historical dramas, Weeks' evaluation acts as an ode to the most recent Golden Age of TV, as well as a critical look at the relationship between entertainment media and collective memory. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Rebecca Weeks, "History by HBO: Televising the American Past" (UP of Kentucky, 2022)
5d ago
Rebecca Weeks, "History by HBO: Televising the American Past" (UP of Kentucky, 2022)
The television industry is changing, and with it, the small screen's potential to engage in debate and present valuable representations of American history. Founded in 1972, HBO has been at the forefront of these changes, leading the way for many network, cable, and streaming services into the "post-network" era. Despite this, most scholarship has been dedicated to analyzing historical feature films and documentary films, leaving TV and the long-form drama hungry for coverage. In History by HBO: Televising the American Past (UP of Kentucky, 2022), Rebecca Weeks fills the gap in this area of media studies and defends the historiographic power of long-form dramas. Dr. Weeks is a lecturer in the Bachelor of Art and Design Programme at Media Design School in Auckland, New Zealand. By focusing on this change and its effects, History by HBO outlines how history is crafted on television and the diverse forms it can take. Weeks examines the capabilities of the long-form serial for engaging with historical stories, insisting that the shift away from the network model and toward narrowcasting has enabled challenging histories to thrive in home settings. As an examination of HBO's unique structure for producing quality historical dramas, Weeks provides four case studies of HBO series set during different periods of United States history: Band of Brothers (2001), Deadwood (2004–2007), Boardwalk Empire (2012–2014), and Treme (2010–2013). In each case, HBO's lack of advertiser influence, commitment to creative freedom, and generous budgets continue to draw and retain talent who want to tell historical stories. Balancing historical and film theories in her assessment of the roles of mise-en–scène, characterization, narrative complexity, and sound in the production of effective historical dramas, Weeks' evaluation acts as an ode to the most recent Golden Age of TV, as well as a critical look at the relationship between entertainment media and collective memory. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Nick Davis, "Competing with Idiots: Herman and Joe Mankiewicz, a Dual Portrait" (Knopf, 2021)
1w ago
Nick Davis, "Competing with Idiots: Herman and Joe Mankiewicz, a Dual Portrait" (Knopf, 2021)
A fascinating, complex dual biography of Hollywood's most dazzling—and famous—brothers, and a dark, riveting portrait of competition, love, and enmity that ultimately undid them both. One most famous for having written Citizen Kane; the other, All About Eve; one who only wrote screenplays but believed himself to be a serious playwright, slowly dying of alcoholism and disappointment; the other a four-time Academy Award-winning director, auteur, sorcerer, and seducer of leading ladies, one of Hollywood's most literate and intelligent filmmakers. Herman Mankiewicz brought us the Marx Brothers' Monkey Business, Horse Feathers, and Duck Soup and W. C. Fields' Million Dollar Legs, wrote screenplays for Dinner at Eight and Pride of the Yankees, and cowrote Citizen Kane (Pauline Kael proclaimed that the script was mostly Herman's) and 89 others. Talented, witty (Alexander Woollcott thought him "the funniest man who ever lived"), huge-hearted, and wildly immature, Herman was a figure of renown and success. Herman went to Hollywood in 1926, was almost immediately successful (his telegram to Ben Hecht back east: "Millions are to be grabbed out here and your only competition is idiots. Don't let this get around.") and became one of the highest-paid screenwriters in Hollywood. Joe, eleven years younger, a focused, organized, and disciplined writer with a far more distinguished career, eventually surpassed his worshipped older brother, producing The Philadelphia Story, writing and directing A Letter to Three Wives and All About Eve, both of which won him Oscars before seeing his career upended by the spectacular fiasco of Cleopatra. In Competing with Idiots: Herman and Joe Mankiewicz, a Dual Portrait (Knopf, 2021), we see the lives of these two men—their dreams and desires, their fears and feuds, struggling to free themselves from their dark past; and the driving forces that kept them bound to a system they loved and hated. Nick Davis, the grandson of Herman Mankiewicz and great-nephew of Joseph Mankiewicz, is a writer, director, and producer. He lives in New York City. Daniel Moran earned his B.A. and M.A. in English from Rutgers University and his Ph.D. in History from Drew University. The author of Creating Flannery O’Connor: Her Critics, Her Publishers, Her Readers, he teaches research and writing at Rutgers and co-hosts the podcast Fifteen-Minute Film Fanatics, found at  and on Twitter @15MinFilm. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Grant Wiedenfeld, "Hollywood Sports Movies and the American Dream" (Oxford UP, 2022)
Aug 8 2022
Grant Wiedenfeld, "Hollywood Sports Movies and the American Dream" (Oxford UP, 2022)
Through the heart of Hollywood cinema runs a surprising current of progressive politics. Sports movies, a genre that has flourished since the mid-seventies, evoke the American dream and represent the nation to itself. Once considered mere credos for Reaganism, on closer view, movies from Rocky (1976) to Ali (2001) dream of democratic participation and recognition more than individual success. In every case, off-field relationships take precedence over on-field competition.  Arranged chronologically, Hollywood Sports Movies and the American Dream (Oxford UP, 2022) tells the story of multiculturalism's gradual adoption. The mainstream's first minority heroes are paradoxically white ethnic, rural, working-class men, exemplified by Rocky, Slap Shot (1977) and The Natural (1984); Black, brown, and women characters follow in White Men Can't Jump (1992), A League of Their Own (1992), and Ali. But despite their insistence on community and diversity these popular dramas show limited faith in civic institutions. Hannah Arendt, Jeffrey Alexander, and others inform original analysis and commentary on the political significance of popular culture. Reading these familiar movies from another angle paints a fresh picture of how the United States has imagined democracy since its bicentennial. In this conversation with host Annie Berke, Dr. Grant Wiedenfeld explains his personal and familial connections to the book's subject matter, discusses why Hollywood sports films don't always have (or need) a "happy ending," and explains how the genre functions as a "civic screen" for the American public in the decades following the Vietnam War. Grant Wiedenfeld earned a PhD from Yale University in Comparative Literature and Film & Media Studies. He taught courses on sports and cinema in Yale's English Department and Film Studies Program before being hired at Sam Houston State University, where he is currently Associate Professor of Media and Culture. Previous publications include studies of Gustave Flaubert, D.W. Griffith, and André Bazin. Annie Berke is the Film Editor at the Los Angeles Review of Books and author of Their Own Best Creations: Women Writers in Postwar Television (University of California Press, 2022). Her scholarship and criticism has been published in Feminist Media Histories, Public Books, Literary Hub, and Ms. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member!
86 Dana Stevens on Buster Keaton (JP EF)
Aug 4 2022
86 Dana Stevens on Buster Keaton (JP EF)
Dana Stevens joins Elizabeth and John to discuss Camera Man: Buster Keaton, the Dawn of Cinema and the Invention of the Twentieth Century. Her fantastic new book serves as occasion to revel in the work and working world of Buster Keaton, that "solemn, beautiful, perpetually airborne man." Although packed with fascinating tidbits from Keaton's life, Camera Man is much more than just a biography. It performs its own airborne magic, lightly traversing topics like the crackdown on the use of children in vaudeville, the fluidity of roles before and behind the camera in early Hollywood and the doors that were briefly (ever so briefly) opened for female directors. Among other treats, Dana unpacks one of Keaton's early great "two-reelers" One Week ( a spoof of brisk upbeat industrial films) and his parodic "burlesques" e.g. of Lillian Gish. People, Films, Books and Ideas in the conversation include: Roscoe ("Fatty") Arbuckle: got Keaton his start in early films like Butcher Boy, reportedly filmed the day Keaton first stepped onto a set. He said "Buster lived inside the camera." "Cinema of Attractions." a phrase coined by film historian Tom Gunning to describe the way the early years of cinema (1895 to 1913, more or less) achieved success by way of gags, stunts, special effects and other dazzling technological innovations--rather than plot or character development,. John and Dana rave about Keaton's last great film (age 33!), The Cameraman (1928) and deprecate the later silents (with a silent caveat for the pancake scene Grand Slam Opera). Mabel Normand: Arbuckle's longtime collaborator and briefly a rising director--Charlie Chaplin kneecapped her at a crucial moment in her career. Dana singles out for special praise Fatty and Mabel Adrift (1916) starring Luke, the first canine movie star. Singing in the Rain as a MGM-friendly myth-making explanation for Clara Bow's eclipse (and the famous vocal failure moment: "I can't stand 'im") Steamboat Bill Jr. ( 1928, Buster Keaton feature) "Keaton's most mature movie" says Dana. Read the transcript here. Elizabeth Ferry is Professor of Anthropology at Brandeis University. Email: ferry@brandeis.edu. John Plotz is Barbara Mandel Professor of the Humanities at Brandeis University and co-founder of the Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative. Email: plotz@brandeis.edu. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Hanan Hammad, "Unknown Past: Layla Murad, the Jewish-Muslim Star of Egypt" (Stanford UP, 2022)
Jul 27 2022
Hanan Hammad, "Unknown Past: Layla Murad, the Jewish-Muslim Star of Egypt" (Stanford UP, 2022)
Layla Murad (1918-1995) was once the highest-paid star in Egypt, and her movies were among the top-grossing in the box office. She starred in 28 films, nearly all now classics in Arab musical cinema. In 1955 she was forced to stop acting—and struggled for decades for a comeback. Today, even decades after her death, public interest in her life continues, and new generations of Egyptians still love her work. Unknown Past: Layla Murad, the Jewish-Muslim Star of Egypt (Stanford UP, 2022) recounts Murad's extraordinary life—and the rapid political and sociocultural changes she witnessed. Hanan Hammad writes a story centered on Layla Murad's persona and legacy, and broadly framed around a gendered history of twentieth-century Egypt. Murad was a Jew who converted to Islam in the shadow of the first Arab-Israeli war. Her career blossomed under the Egyptian monarchy and later gave a singing voice to the Free Officers and the 1952 Revolution. The definitive end of her cinematic career came under Nasser on the eve of the 1956 Suez War. Egyptians have long told their national story through interpretations of Murad's life, intertwining the individual and Egyptian state and society to better understand Egyptian identity. As Unknown Past recounts, there's no life better than Murad's to reflect the tumultuous changes experienced over the dramatic decades of the mid-twentieth century. Roberto Mazza is visiting professor at Northwestern University. He is the host of the Jerusalem Unplugged Podcast and to discuss and propose a book for interview can be reached at robbymazza@gmail.com. Twitter: @robbyref Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Ryan Uytdewilligen, "Killing John Wayne: The Making of the Conqueror" (Lyons Press, 2021)
Jul 21 2022
Ryan Uytdewilligen, "Killing John Wayne: The Making of the Conqueror" (Lyons Press, 2021)
Behold the history of a film so scandalous, so outrageous, so explosive it disappeared from print for over a quarter century! A film so dangerous, half its cast and crew met their demise bringing eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes’ final cinematic vision to life! Starring All-American legend John Wayne in full Fu Manchu make-up as Mongol madman Genghis Khan! Featuring sultry seductress Susan Hayward as his lover!  Killing John Wayne (Lyons Press, 2021) is the true story of The Conqueror (1956), the worst movie ever made. Filmed during the dark underbelly of the 1950s—the Cold War—when nuclear testing in desolate southwestern landscapes was a must for survival, the very same landscapes were where exotic stories set in faraway lands could be made. Just 153 miles from the St. George, Utah, set, nuclear bombs were detonated regularly at Yucca Flat and Frenchman Flat in Nevada, providing a bizarre and possibly deadly background to an already surreal moment in cinema history. This book tells the full story of the making of The Conqueror, its ignominious aftermath, and the radiation induced cancer that may have killed John Wayne and many others. Ryan Uytdewilligen attended Lethbridge College in Alberta and earned a degree in Broadcast Journalism, leading to work in radio anchoring, reporting, and media coordinating for the prestigious Vancouver International Film Festival. After writing-producing his first short film, Tea Time (2014), he optioned two feature film scripts and has worked as a script doctor/writer for hire. In 2016, he published his first non-fiction work, a film history examination called 101 Most Influential Coming of Age Movies. Ryan currently resides in Vancouver, British Columbia. He would like to express his sympathy to everyone who lost a loved one that worked on The Conqueror. Daniel Moran earned his B.A. and M.A. in English from Rutgers University and his Ph.D. in History from Drew University. The author of Creating Flannery O’Connor: Her Critics, Her Publishers, Her Readers, he teaches research and writing at Rutgers and co-hosts the podcast Fifteen-Minute Film Fanatics (Twitter @15MinFilm). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Erika Balsom and Hila Peleg, "Feminist Worldmaking and the Moving Image" (MIT Press, 2022)
Jul 20 2022
Erika Balsom and Hila Peleg, "Feminist Worldmaking and the Moving Image" (MIT Press, 2022)
Erika Balsom and Hila Peleg's edited volume Feminist Worldmaking and the Moving Image (MIT Press, 2022) offers intersectional, intergenerational, and international perspectives on nonfiction film- and videomaking by and about women, examining practices that range from activist documentaries to avant-garde experiments. Concentrating primarily on the period between the 1970s and 1990s, the contributions revisit major figures, contexts, and debates across a polycentric, global geography. They explore how the moving image has been a crucial terrain of feminist struggle--a way of not only picturing the world but remaking it. The contributors consider key decolonial filmmakers, including Trinh T. Minh-ha and Sarah Maldoror; explore collectively produced films with ties to women's liberation movements in different countries; and investigate the cinematic expressions of tensions and alliances between feminism and anti-imperialist struggles. They grapple with the need for a broader more inclusive definition of the term "feminism"; meditate on the figure of the grandmother; reflect on realist aesthetics; and ask what a feminist film historiography might look like. The book, generously illustrated with film stills and other images, many in color, offers ten original texts, two conversations, and eight short essays composed in response to historical texts written by filmmakers. The historical texts, half of which are published in English for the first time, appear alongside the essays. Galina Limorenko is a doctoral candidate in Neuroscience with a focus on biochemistry and molecular biology of neurodegenerative diseases at EPFL in Switzerland. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Scott Meslow, "From Hollywood with Love: The Rise and Fall (and Rise Again) of the Romantic Comedy" (Dey Street, 2022)
Jul 18 2022
Scott Meslow, "From Hollywood with Love: The Rise and Fall (and Rise Again) of the Romantic Comedy" (Dey Street, 2022)
An in-depth celebration of the romantic comedy's modern golden era and its role in our culture, tracking the genre from its heyday in the '80s and the '90s, its unfortunate decline in the 2000s, and its explosive reemergence in the age of streaming, featuring exclusive interviews with the directors, writers, and stars of the iconic films that defined the genre.  No Hollywood genre has been more misunderstood--or more unfairly under-appreciated--than the romantic comedy. Funny, charming, and reliably crowd-pleasing, rom-coms were the essential backbone of the Hollywood landscape, launching the careers of many of Hollywood's most talented actors and filmmakers, such as Julia Roberts and Matthew McConaughey, and providing many of the yet limited creative opportunities women had in Hollywood. But despite--or perhaps because of--all that, the rom-com has routinely been overlooked by the Academy Awards or snobbishly dismissed by critics.  In From Hollywood with Love: The Rise and Fall (and Rise Again) of the Romantic Comedy (Dey Street, 2022), culture writer and GQ contributor Scott Meslow seeks to right this wrong, celebrating and analyzing rom-coms with the appreciative, insightful critical lens they've always deserved. Beginning with the golden era of the romantic comedy--spanning from the late '80s to the mid-'00s with the breakthrough of films such as When Harry Met Sally--to the rise of streaming and the long-overdue push for diversity setting the course for films such as the groundbreaking, franchise-spawning Crazy Rich Asians, Meslow examines the evolution of the genre through its many iterations, from its establishment of new tropes, the Austen and Shakespeare rewrites, the many love triangles, and even the occasional brave decision to do away with the happily ever after. Featuring original black-and-white sketches of iconic movie scenes and exclusive interviews with the actors and filmmakers behind our most beloved rom-coms, From Hollywood with Love constructs oral histories of our most celebrated romantic comedies, for an informed and entertaining look at Hollywood's beloved yet most under-appreciated genre. Joel Tscherne is an Adjunct History Professor at Southern New Hampshire University. His Twitter handle is @JoelTscherne. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Alison Macor, "Making The Best Years of Our Lives: The Hollywood Classic That Inspired a Nation" (U Texas Press, 2022)
Jul 8 2022
Alison Macor, "Making The Best Years of Our Lives: The Hollywood Classic That Inspired a Nation" (U Texas Press, 2022)
Released in 1946, The Best Years of Our Lives became an immediate success. Life magazine called it “the first big, good movie of the post-war era” to tackle the “veterans problem.” Today we call that problem PTSD, but in the initial aftermath of World War II, the modern language of war trauma did not exist. The film earned the producer Samuel Goldwyn his only Best Picture Academy Award. It offered the injured director, William Wyler, a triumphant postwar return to Hollywood. And for Harold Russell, a double amputee who costarred with Fredric March and Dana Andrews, the film provided a surprising second act. Award-winning author Alison Macor illuminates the film’s journey from script to screen and describes how this authentic motion picture moved audiences worldwide. General Omar Bradley believed The Best Years of Our Lives would help “the American people to build an even better democracy” following the war, and the movie inspired broad reflection on reintegrating the walking wounded. But the film’s nuanced critique of American ideals also made it a target, and the picture and its creators were swept up in the anti-Communist witch hunts of the late 1940s. In Making The Best Years of Our Lives: The Hollywood Classic That Inspired a Nation (U Texas Press, 2022), Macor chronicles the making and meaning of a film that changed America. Joel Tscherne is an Adjunct History Professor at Southern New Hampshire University. His Twitter handle is @JoelTscherne. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Squid Game
Jul 6 2022
Squid Game
Kyung Hyun Kim talks about the Netflix series Squid Game, its economic and political contexts, and its cultural potential. He also talks about his new book, Hegemonic Mimicry, out from Duke University Press. Prof. Kyung Hyun Kim is a creative writer, a scholar, and a film producer, who is currently a professor in the Department of East Asian Studies, UC Irvine. He has worked with internationally renowned directors such as Hong Sang-soo, Lee Chang-dong and Marty Scorsese, and also with American film producers Jason Blum and Steven Schneider. Prof. Kim is author of Virtual Hallyu: Korean Cinema of the Global Era, The Remasculinization of Korean Cinema, Hegemonic Mimicry: Korean Popular Culture of 21st Century, all of them published by Duke University Press, and a Korean-language novel entitled In Search of Lost G (Ireo beorin G-reul chajaso, 2014) about a Korean mother combing through the US in search of her missing son during his junior year in a Massachusetts prep school. He has coproduced and co-scripted two award-winning feature films Never Forever (2007, Sundance Film Festival’s U.S. Main Competition) and The Housemaid (2010, Cannes Film Festival Main Competition). He has recently written The Mask Debate, his first theatre screenplay, which premiered in February 2021 through UCI’s Illuminations: Chancellor’s Initiative in Arts and Drama YouTube channel. Image: © 2021 Saronik Bosu Music used in promotional material: ‘Horizon Mine’ by krackatoa Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member!
A. S. Hamrah, "The Earth Dies Streaming: Film Writing, 2002-2018" (N+1 Books, 2018)
Jul 4 2022
A. S. Hamrah, "The Earth Dies Streaming: Film Writing, 2002-2018" (N+1 Books, 2018)
The Earth Dies Streaming: Film Writing, 2002-2018 (N+1 Books, 2018) collects the best of A. S. Hamrah’s film writing for n+1, The Baffler, Bookforum, Harper’s, and other publications. Acerbic, insightful, hilarious, and damning, Hamrah’s aphoristic capsule reviews and lucid career retrospectives of filmmakers and critics have taken up the mantle of serious American film criticism—pioneered by James Agee, Robert Warshow, and Pauline Kael—and carried it into the 21st century. Taken together, these reviews and essays represent some of the best film criticism in the English language. The Earth Dies Streaming showcases a remarkable critical intelligence while offering a cultural history of the cinema of our times. In this conversation with host Annie Berke, A. S. Hamrah discusses his influences as a critic, lays out the challenges and shortcomings of film criticism today, and explains the differences between film and television. Currently the film critic for The Baffler, A. S. Hamrah was n+1’s film critic from 2008 to 2019, as well as the editor of the magazine’s film review supplement. He has worked as a movie theater projectionist, a semiotic brand analyst, a political pollster, a football cinematographer, a zine writer, and for the film director Raúl Ruiz. He lives in New York. Annie Berke is the Film Editor at the Los Angeles Review of Books and author of Their Own Best Creations: Women Writers in Postwar Television (University of California Press, 2022). Her scholarship and criticism has been published in Feminist Media Histories, Public Books, Literary Hub, and Ms. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Paul Dobryden, "The Hygienic Apparatus: Weimar Cinema and Environmental Disorder" (Northwestern UP, 2022)
Jul 1 2022
Paul Dobryden, "The Hygienic Apparatus: Weimar Cinema and Environmental Disorder" (Northwestern UP, 2022)
The Hygienic Apparatus: Weimar Cinema and Environmental Disorder (Northwestern UP, 2022) traces how the environmental effects of industrialization reverberated through the cinema of Germany’s Weimar Republic. In the early twentieth century, hygiene encompassed the myriad attempts to create healthy spaces for life and work amid the pollution, disease, accidents, and noise of industrial modernity. Examining classic films—including The Last Laugh, Faust, and Kuhle Wampe—as well as documentaries, cinema architecture, and studio practices, Paul Dobryden demonstrates how cinema envisioned and interrogated hygienic concerns about environmental disorder. Framing hygiene within the project of national reconstruction after World War I, The Hygienic Apparatus explores cinema’s material contexts alongside its representations of housework, urban space, traffic, pollution, disability, aging, and labor. Reformers worried about the health risks associated with moviegoing but later used film to popularize hygienic ideas, encouraging viewers to see the world and themselves in relation to public health objectives. Modernist architecture and design fashioned theaters into regenerative environments for fatigued spectators. Filmmakers like F. W. Murnau and Slatan Dudow, meanwhile, explored the aesthetic and political possibilities of dirt, contagion, intoxication, and disorder. Dobryden recovers a set of ecological and biopolitical concerns to show how the problem of environmental disorder fundamentally shaped cinema’s relationship to modernity. As accessible as it is persuasive, the book adds to a growing body of scholarship on biopolitics within German studies and reveals fresh ways of understanding the apparatus of Weimar cinema. Paul Lerner is Professor of History at the University of Southern California where he directs the Max Kade Institute for Austrian-German-Swiss Studies. He can be reached at plerner@usc.edu and @PFLerner. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Katherine E. Sugg, "Apocalypse and Heroism in Popular Culture" (McFarland, 2022)
Jun 30 2022
Katherine E. Sugg, "Apocalypse and Heroism in Popular Culture" (McFarland, 2022)
Stories of world-ending catastrophe have featured prominently in film and television lately. Zombie apocalypses, climate disasters, alien invasions, global pandemics, and dystopian world orders fill our screens—typically with a singular figure or tenacious group tasked with saving or salvaging the world. In her new book, Apocalypse and Heroism in Popular Culture: Allegories of White Masculinity in Crisis (McFarland Press, 2022), Dr. Katherine E. Sugg asks, why are stories of End Times crisis so popular with audiences? And why is the hero so often a white man who overcomes personal struggles and major obstacles to lead humanity toward a restored future? This book examines the familiar trope of the hero and the recasting of contemporary anxieties in films and TV like The Walking Dead, Snowpiercer, Mad Max: Fury Road, and more. Some have familiar roots in Western cultural traditions, yet many question popular assumptions about heroes and heroism to tell new and fascinating stories about race, gender and society, and the power of individuals to change the world. Katherine E. Sugg is a professor of English and Latino & Puerto Rican studies at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut. She teaches and writes on world literatures, Latino and comparative American studies, and film and media. She has also written several journal articles and published a book entitled Gender and Allegory in Transamerican Fiction and Performance. Carrie Lynn Evans is a PhD student at Université Laval in Quebec City. carrie-lynn.evans@lit.ulaval.ca @carrielynnland  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Justin Gautreau, "The Last Word: The Hollywood Novel and the Studio System" (Oxford UP, 2020)
Jun 21 2022
Justin Gautreau, "The Last Word: The Hollywood Novel and the Studio System" (Oxford UP, 2020)
Justin Gautreau's book The Last Word: The Hollywood Novel and the Studio System (Oxford UP, 2020) argues that the Hollywood novel opened up space for cultural critique of the film industry at a time when the industry lacked the capacity to critique itself. While the young studio system worked tirelessly to burnish its public image in the wake of celebrity scandal, several industry insiders wrote fiction to fill in what newspapers and fan magazines left out. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, these novels aimed to expose the invisible machinery of classical Hollywood cinema, including not only the evolving artifice of the screen but also the promotional discourse that complemented it. As likeminded filmmakers in the 1940s and 1950s gradually brought the dark side of the industry to the screen, however, the Hollywood novel found itself struggling to live up to its original promise of delivering the unfilmable. By the 1960s, desperate to remain relevant, the genre had devolved into little more than erotic fantasy of movie stars behind closed doors, perhaps the only thing the public couldn't already find elsewhere. Still, given their unique ability to speak beyond the institutional restraints of their time, these earlier works offer a window into the industry's dynamic creation and re-creation of itself in the public imagination. William Domnarski is a longtime lawyer who before and during has been a literary guy, with a Ph.D. in English. He's written five books on judges, lawyers, and courts, two with Oxford, one with Illinois, one with Michigan, and one with the American Bar Association. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Sara Austin, "Monstrous Youth: Transgressing the Boundaries of Childhood in the United States" (Ohio State UP, 2022)
Jun 20 2022
Sara Austin, "Monstrous Youth: Transgressing the Boundaries of Childhood in the United States" (Ohio State UP, 2022)
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 comics, films, picture books, novels, television, toys and other material culture—including Monsters, Inc. and works by Mercer Mayer, Maurice Sendak, R. L. Stine, and Stephanie Meyer—Austin tracks how the metaphor of monstrosity excludes, engulfs, and narrates difference within children’s culture. Analyzing how cultural shifts have drastically changed our perceptions of both what it means to be a monster and what it means to be a child, Austin charts how the portrayal and consumption of monsters corresponds to changes in identity categories such as race, sexuality, gender, disability, and class. In demonstrating how monstrosity is leveraged in service of political and cultural movements, such as integration, abstinence-only education, and queer rights, Austin offers insight into how monster texts continue to reflect, interpret, and shape the social discourses of identity within children’s culture. Rebekah Buchanan is an Associate Professor of English and Director of English Education at Western Illinois University. Her research focuses on feminism, activism, and literacy practices in youth culture, specifically through zines and music. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Charles Elton, "Cimino: The Deer Hunter, Heaven's Gate, and the Price of a Vision" (Abrams Press, 2022)
Jun 15 2022
Charles Elton, "Cimino: The Deer Hunter, Heaven's Gate, and the Price of a Vision" (Abrams Press, 2022)
Cimino: The Deer Hunter, Heaven's Gate, and the Price of a Vision (Abrams Press, 2022) is the first biography of critically acclaimed then critically derided filmmaker Michael Cimino--and a reevaluation of the infamous film that destroyed his career The director Michael Cimino (1939-2016) is famous for two films: the intense, powerful, and enduring Vietnam movie The Deer Hunter, which won Best Picture at the Academy Awards in 1979 and also won Cimino Best Director, and Heaven's Gate, the most notorious bomb of all time. Originally budgeted at $11 million, Cimino's sprawling western went off the rails in Montana. The picture grew longer and longer, and the budget ballooned to over $40 million. When it was finally released, Heaven's Gate failed so completely with reviewers and at the box office that it put legendary studio United Artists out of business and marked the end of Hollywood's auteur era.  Or so the conventional wisdom goes. Charles Elton delves deeply into the making and aftermath of the movie and presents a surprisingly different view to that of Steven Bach, one of the executives responsible for Heaven's Gate, who wrote a scathing book about the film and solidified the widely held view that Cimino wounded the movie industry beyond repair. Elton's Cimino is a richly detailed biography that offers a revisionist history of a lightning rod filmmaker. Based on extensive interviews with Cimino's peers and collaborators and enemies and friends, most of whom have never spoken before, it unravels the enigmas and falsehoods, many perpetrated by the director himself, which surround his life, and sheds new light on his extraordinary career. This is a story of the making of art, the business of Hollywood, and the costs of ambition, both financial and personal. Joel Tscherne is an Adjunct History Professor at Southern New Hampshire University. His Twitter handle is @JoelTscherne. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Mary Beth Willard, "Why It's Ok to Enjoy the Work of Immoral Artists" (Routledge, 2021)
Jun 8 2022
Mary Beth Willard, "Why It's Ok to Enjoy the Work of Immoral Artists" (Routledge, 2021)
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 (Routledge, 2021), she contends that because most boycotts of artists won’t succeed, there’s no ethical reason to do so most of the time. She then argues that canceling artists is ethically risky because it encourages moral grandstanding. In this interview, Allison Leigh talks to Mary Beth Willard about the differences between enjoyment and engagement when it comes to immoral artists, as well as whether we should enjoy artworks that have immoral outlooks and behaviors embedded in them. Their conversation ranges from the problems associated with collective versus individual actions, the positive effects that giving up the work of immoral artists may have for shifting cultural norms, and the distinction between public and private enjoyment. Allison Leigh is Associate Professor of Art History and the SLEMCO/LEQSF Regents Endowed Professor in Art & Architecture at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Her research explores masculinity in European and Russian art of the eighteenth through the early twentieth centuries. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Dustin Tahmahkera, "Cinematic Comanches: The Lone Ranger in the Media Borderlands" (U Nebraska Press, 2022)
Jun 7 2022
Dustin Tahmahkera, "Cinematic Comanches: The Lone Ranger in the Media Borderlands" (U Nebraska Press, 2022)
For centuries Comanches have captivated imaginations. Yet their story in popular accounts abruptly stops in 1875, when the last free Comanches entered a reservation in southwestern Oklahoma. In Cinematic Comanches: The Lone Ranger in the Media Borderlands (U Nebraska Press, 2022), the first tribal-specific history of Comanches in film and media, Quanah Parker descendant Dustin Tahmahkera examines how Comanches represent themselves and are represented by others in recent media. Telling a story of Comanche family and extended kin and their relations to film, Tahmahkera reframes a distorted and defeated history of Comanches into a vibrant story of cinematic traditions, agency, and cultural continuity. Co-starring a long list of Comanche actors, filmmakers, consultants, critics, and subjects, Cinematic Comanches moves through the politics of tribal representation and history to highlight the production of Comanchería cinema. From early silent films and 1950s Westerns to Disney’s The Lone Ranger and the story of how Comanches captured its controversial Comanche lead Johnny Depp, Tahmahkera argues that Comanche nationhood can be strengthened through cinema. Tahmahkera’s extensive research includes interviews with elder LaDonna Harris, who adopted Depp during filming in one of the most contested films in recent Indigenous cinematic history. In the fragmented popular narrative of the rise and fall of Comanches, Cinematic Comanches calls for considering mediated contributions to the cultural resurgence of Comanches today. Joaquín Rivaya-Martínez an associate professor of History at Texas State University. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Lisa Blackmore and Liliana Gómez, "Liquid Ecologies in Latin American and Caribbean Art" (Routledge, 2020)
Jun 7 2022
Lisa Blackmore and Liliana Gómez, "Liquid Ecologies in Latin American and Caribbean Art" (Routledge, 2020)
In this podcast, Lisa Blackmore, Senior Lecture in the School of Philosophy, History and Interdisciplinary Studies Center at the University of Essex, and Liliana Gomez, Professor of Art and Society at the University of Kassel, introduce their edited volume Liquid Ecologies in Latin American and Caribbean art (Routledge, 2020) and the multiple ways it proposes to "think with water". Spotlighting the ways in which artists in the Americas have long been in dialogue with water, liquids and fluids as material signifiers and ontological materials, the authors in this volume examine artists and works that open up larger discussions about history, ecology, temporality, memory, activism and more. This interdisciplinary book brings into dialogue research on how different fluids and bodies of water are mobilised as liquid ecologies in the arts in Latin America and the Caribbean. Examining the visual arts, including multimedia installations, performance, photography and film, the chapters place diverse fluids and systems of flow in art historical, ecocritical and cultural analytical contexts.  Elize Mazadiego is an art historian in Modern and Contemporary art (PhD, University of California San Diego), with a specialism in Latin American art. She is currently a Marie SkłodowskaCurie fellow at the University of Amsterdam and author of the book Dematerialization and the Social Materiality of Art: Experimental Forms in Argentina, 1955-1968 (Brill, 2021). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member!