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As rock critics have noted in the past, Bruce Springsteen's songs exist in a world of their own--they have their own settings, characters, words, and images. It is a world that even those who know only a handful of Springsteen's lyrics can instantly recognize, a world of highways and factories, loners and underdogs, hot rods and patrol cars. And it is a world that stretches far beyond the New Jersey state line. Indeed, Springsteen's attention to the ideals and struggles of ordinary Americans has significantly influenced American popular culture and public debate. As a rock-and-roll troubadour, "the Boss" speaks not only for his many fans but to them, and often with a directness or sincerity that no other performer can match. But what can be said of the fans themselves? Why and how do they relate to Springsteen's words and music? Based on three years of ethnographic research amid Springsteen's fans, and informed by the author's own experiences and impressions as a fan, Daniel Cavicchi's Tramps Like Us is an interdisciplinary study of the ways in which ordinary people form special, sustained attachments to a particular singer/songwriter and his songs, and of how these attachments function in people's lives. An "insider's narrative" about Springsteen fans--who they are, what they do, and why they do it--this book also investigates the phenomenon of fandom in general. The text oscillates between fans' stories and ideas and Cavicchi's own anecdotes, commentary, and analysis. It challenges the stereotypes of fans as obsessive, delusional, and even mentally ill, and explores fandom as a normal socio-cultural activity. Ultimately, this book argues that music fandom is a useful and meaningful behavior that enables us to shape identities, create communities, and make sense of the world--both Bruce's and our own.
Winner of the Northeast Popular Culture Association’s Peter C. Rollins Book Award (2012) Winner of the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award (2012) Listening and Longing explores the emergence of music listening in the United States, from its early stages in the antebellum era, when entrepreneurs first packaged and sold the experience of hearing musical performance, to the Gilded Age, when genteel critics began to successfully redefine the cultural value of listening to music. In a series of interconnected stories, American studies scholar Daniel Cavicchi focuses on the impact of industrialization, urbanization, and commercialization in shaping practices of music audiences in America. Grounding our contemporary culture of listening in its seminal historical moment—before the iPod, stereo system, or phonograph—Cavicchi offers a fresh understanding of the role of listening in the history of music.
This interdisciplinary volume enters the scholarly conversation about Bruce Springsteen at the moment when he has reinforced his status of global superstar and achieved the status of social critic. Covering musical and cultural developments, chapters primarily consider work Springsteen has released since 9/11—that is, released during a period of continued global unrest, economic upheaval, and social change—under the headings Politics, Fear and Society; Gender and Sexual Identity; and Toward a Rhetoric of Springsteen. The collection engages Springsteen and popular music as his contemporary work is just beginning to be understood in terms of its impact on popular culture and music, applying new areas of inquiry to Springsteen and putting Springsteen fan writing within the same binding as academic writing to show how together they create a more nuanced understanding of an artist. Established and emerging Springsteen scholars approach work from disciplines including rhetoric and composition, historical musicology, labor studies, American history, literature, communications, sociology, theology, and government. Offering context, critique, and expansive understanding of Springsteen and his work, this book contributes to Springsteen scholarship and the study of popular music by showing Springsteen’s broadening academic appeal as well as his escalating legacy on new musicians, social consciousness, and contemporary culture.
A fascinating exploration of the relationship between American culture and music as defined by musicians, scholars, and critics from around the world.
Bruce Springsteens music and performances have provided an emotional outlet for thousands of fans all over the world. Drawing from participant observation, the statements of Springsteen fans, and the life and music of Springsteen, Randalls ethnographic treatment documents the ways in which fans are inspired to create a global cultural community. This community functions as a social network, offering emotional support, spirituality, and the motivation for doing good works. Randall discovers that the sensitivities and values Springsteen instills in his fans are as alive and valid as those experienced by adherents of widely recognized spiritual traditions. Her in-depth examination of the thoughts and actions of these fans reveals that embracing nontraditional spiritual values can engender multifaceted feelings, including trust, hope, and respect for humankind. By acknowledging that a personal spiritual connection can develop outside a sectarian landscape, an appreciation of and tolerance for different belief systems can be cultivated and nourished.
We are all fans. Whether we log on to Web sites to scrutinize the latest plot turns in Lost, “stalk” our favorite celebrities on Gawker, attend gaming conventions, or simply wait with bated breath for the newest Harry Potter novel—each of us is a fan. Fandom extends beyond television and film to literature, opera, sports, and pop music, and encompasses both high and low culture. Fandom brings together leading scholars to examine fans, their practices, and their favorite texts. This unparalleled selection of original essays examines instances across the spectrum of modern cultural consumption from Karl Marx to Paris Hilton, Buffy the Vampire Slayer to backyard wrestling, Bach fugues to Bollywood cinema ̧ and nineteenth-century concert halls to computer gaming. Contributors examine fans of high cultural texts and genres, the spaces of fandom, fandom around the globe, the impact of new technologies on fandom, and the legal and historical contexts of fan activity. Fandom is key to understanding modern life in our increasingly mediated and globalized world.
When and how do communication and history impact each other? How do disciplinary perspectives affect what we know? Explorations in Communication and History addresses the link between what we know and how we know it by tracking the intersection of communication and history. Asking how each discipline has enhanced and hindered our understanding of the other, the book considers what happens to what we know when disciplines engage. Through a critical collection of essays written by top scholars in the field, the book addresses the engagement of communication and history as it applies to the study of technology, audiences and journalism. A comprehensive introduction by Barbie Zelizer contextualises these debates and makes a case for the importance of disciplinary engagement for teaching as well as research in media and cultural studies and each section has a brief introduction to contextualise the essays and highlight the issues they raise, making this an invaluable collection for students and scholars alike.

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