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Blackface minstrelsy, the nineteenth-century performance practice in which ideas and images of blackness were constructed and theatricalized by and for whites, continues to permeate contemporary popular music and its audience. Harriet J. Manning argues that this legacy is nowhere more evident than with Michael Jackson in whom minstrelsy’s gestures and tropes are embedded. During the nineteenth century, blackface minstrelsy held together a multitude of meanings and when black entertainers took to the stage this complexity was compounded: minstrelsy became an arena in which black stereotypes were at once enforced and critiqued. This body of contradiction behind the blackface mask provides an effective approach to try and understand Jackson, a cultural figure about whom more questions than answers have been generated. Symbolized by his own whiteface mask, Jackson was at once ’raced’ and raceless and this ambiguity allowed him to serve a whole host of others’ needs - a function of the mask that has run long and deep through its tortuous history. Indeed, Manning argues that minstrelsy’s assumptions and uses have been fundamental to the troubles and controversies with which Jackson was beset.
Traces the origins of Black body politics in the United States and its contemporary manifestations in hip-hop music and film.
Debut albums are among the cultural artefacts that capture the popular imagination especially well. As a first impression, the debut album may take on a mythical status, whether the artist or group achieves enduring success or in rare cases when an initial record turns out to be an apogee for an artist. Whatever the subsequent career trajectory, the debut album is a meaningful text that can be scrutinized for its revelatory signs and the expectations that follow. Please Allow Me to Introduce Myself: Essays on Debut Albums tells the stories of 23 debut albums over a nearly fifty year span, ranging from Buddy Holly and the Crickets in 1957 to The Go! Team in 2004. In addition to biographical background and a wealth of historical information about the genesis of the album, each essay looks back at the album and places it within multiple contexts, particularly the artist’s career development. In this way, the book will be of as much interest to sociologists and historians as to culture critics and musicologists.
Punk Rock Warlord explores the relevance of Joe Strummer within the continuing legacies of both punk rock and progressive politics. It is aimed at scholars and general readers interested in The Clash, punk culture, and the intersections between pop music and politics, on both sides of the Atlantic. Contributors to the collection represent a wide range of disciplines, including history, sociology, musicology, and literature; their work examines all phases of Strummer’s career, from his early days as ‘Woody’ the busker to the whirlwind years as front man for The Clash, to the ‘wilderness years’ and Strummer’s final days with the Mescaleros. Punk Rock Warlord offers an engaging survey of its subject, while at the same time challenging some of the historical narratives that have been constructed around Strummer the Punk Icon. The essays in Punk Rock Warlord address issues including John Graham Mellor’s self-fashioning as ‘Joe Strummer, rock revolutionary’; critical and media constructions of punk; and the singer’s complicated and changing relationship to feminism and anti-racist politics. These diverse essays nevertheless cohere around the claim that Strummer’s look, style, and musical repertoire are so rooted in both English and American cultures that he cannot finally be extricated from either.
From Muddy Waters to Mick Jagger, Elvis to Freddie Mercury, Jeff Buckley to Justin Timberlake, masculinity in popular music has been an issue explored by performers, critics, and audiences. From the dominance of the blues singer over his "woman" to the sensitive singer/songwriter, popular music artists have adopted various gendered personae in a search for new forms of expression. Sometimes these roles shift as the singer ages, attitudes change, or new challenges on the pop scene arise; other times, the persona hardens into a shell-like mask that the performer struggles to escape. Oh Boy! Masculinities and Popular Music is the first serious study of how forms of masculinity are negotiated, constructed, represented and addressed across a range of popular music texts and practices. Written by a group of internationally recognized popular music scholars—including Sheila Whiteley, Richard Middleton, and Judith Halberstam—these essays study the concept of masculinity in performance and appearance, and how both male and female artists have engaged with notions of masculinity in popular music.
We all have opinions about the television shows we watch, but television criticism is about much more than simply evaluating the merits of a particular show and deeming it ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ Rather, criticism uses the close examination of a television program to explore that program’s cultural significance, creative strategies, and its place in a broader social context. How to Watch Television brings together forty original essays from today’s leading scholars on television culture, writing about the programs they care (and think) the most about. Each essay focuses on a particular television show, demonstrating one way to read the program and, through it, our media culture. The essays model how to practice media criticism in accessible language, providing critical insights through analysis—suggesting a way of looking at TV that students and interested viewers might emulate. The contributors discuss a wide range of television programs past and present, covering many formats and genres, spanning fiction and non-fiction, broadcast and cable, providing a broad representation of the programs that are likely to be covered in a media studies course. While the book primarily focuses on American television, important programs with international origins and transnational circulation are also covered. Addressing television series from the medium’s earliest days to contemporary online transformations of television, How to Watch Television is designed to engender classroom discussion among television critics of all backgrounds. Read: Introduction / Table of Contents / Sample Essays Online View: Clips from the Essays Visit the Facebook page.

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