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Batman Returns

Brazilian Conflicts and the Popular Culture of Sovereignty

Martijn Oosterbaan

This article explores the aesthetic elements of sovereignty. Building on the anthropological literature on sovereignty and on contemporary work on the politics of aesthetics, the article analyzes contemporary appearances of Batman symbols and figures in Rio de Janeiro. Despite political debate and academic discussion about the Batmen appearing in mafia-like militias and popular street protests in Rio, the question of what these appearances tell us about the relations between popular imagery and political contestation has remained untouched. This article supports the work of writers who argue that superhero comics and movies present fierce figures that operate in the zone of indistinction, at the crossroads of lawful order and its exception. However, it adds to this literature an analysis that shows in what kind of sociopolitical contexts these figures operate and how that plays itself out. To understand the contemporary appearances and force of figures of the entertainment industry better, this article proposes the concept “popular culture of sovereignty.”

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"A World of Their Own"

Searching for Popular Culture in the French Countryside

Stéphane Gerson

This article revisits the role that the concept of popular culture has played in Eugen Weber's Peasants Into Frenchmen and in the historiography of France. It delineates the contours of this field of study in the 1970s then traces its evolution, focusing on the nineteenth century. It also assesses Weber's contribution to this body of scholarship and considers future directions of research—and how his book may still prove helpful. The article proposes that, in terms of conceptualization, epistemological stance, and rhetorical voice, Peasants Into Frenchmen adopts two perspectives on popular culture, perspectives that are sometimes compatible but typically at odds. The first revolves around the confident discovery of a fixed traditional civilization in the French countryside; the second is a more conjectural search for fluctuating cultural processes. While commentators have focused on the first, the second foreshadowed later developments in the field and has more to offer us today.

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‘. . . But Is It Literature?’

Graphic Adaptation in Germany in the Context of High and Popular Culture

Juliane Blank

As a hybrid between ‘high’ literature and ‘trivial’ comics, graphic adaptations have been the subject of extensive debate in Germany. This article discusses the specific cultural conditions of graphic adaptation in Germany, which have been influenced by a process of emancipation from deeply rooted prejudice against comics as a medium of popular culture. To illustrate the changes brought about by the term ‘graphic novel’ around 2000, this article analyses two examples of a newer generation of graphic adaptation in detail. Flix’s Faust (2009–2010) and Drushba Pankow’s Das Fräulein von Scuderi [Mademoiselle de Scudery] (2011) represent a new self-confident approach to classic literature, but they also reflect on their own status as adaptations and thus contribute to ‘closing the gap’ between ‘high’ and popular culture.

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Introduction

Comics and Adaptation

Armelle Blin-Rolland, Guillaume Lecomte and Marc Ripley

This introduction to this special issue of European Comic Art on ‘Comics and Adaptation’ provides a brief overview of the field of adaptation studies, with a particular focus on its considerable developments and expansion since the late 1990s, as it has moved beyond a comparative novel-to-film approach to centre instead around questions of intertextuality and hypertextuality. This special issue aims to contribute to this field and to the growing body of works on comics and adaptation. The authors explore questions of transnational circulation of visual, narrative and generic motifs (Boillat); heteronormalisation and phallogocentrism (Krauthaker and Connolly); authenticity of drawn events (Lecomte); identity in a stateless minoritised culture (Blin-Rolland); ‘high’ and popular culture (Blank); reverence in comic adaptations of the literary canon (de Rooy); and documentary and parody (Ripley).

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Ted Nannicelli

Lisa Zunshine, Getting Inside Your Head: What Cognitive Science Can Tell Us about Popular Culture

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The Cyndi Lauper Affect

Bodies, Girlhood and Popular Culture

Kristina Gottschall, Susanne Gannon, Jo Lampert and Kelli McGraw

Using a collective biography method informed by a Deleuzian theoretical approach (Davies and Gannon 2009, 2012), this article analyses embodied memories of girlhood becomings through affective engagements with resonating images in media and popular culture. In this approach to analysis we move beyond the impasse in some feminist cultural studies where studies of popular culture have been understood through theories of representation and reception that retain a sense of discrete subjectivity and linear effects. In these approaches, analysis focuses respectively on decoding and deciphering images in terms of their normative and ideological baggage, and, particularly with moving images, on psychological readings. Understanding bodies and popular culture through Deleuzian notions of “becoming“ and “assemblage“ opens possibilities for feminist researchers to consider the ways in which bodies are not separate from images but are, rather, becomings that are known, felt, materialized and mobilized with/through images (Coleman 2008a, 2008b, 2008c, 2009, 2011; Ringrose and Coleman 2013). We tease out the implications of this new approach to media affects through three memories of girls' engagements with media images, reconceived as moments of embodied being within affective flows of popular culture that might momentarily extend upon ways of being and doing girlhood.

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Miley, What’s Good?

Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda, Instagram Reproductions, and Viral Memetic Violence

Aria S. Halliday

Images on popular social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter that are the most entertaining are loaded with memetic power because their value is based on cultural attitudes that already constitute our lives in the everyday. Focusing on memes appropriating the artwork from Nicki Minaj’s single, Anaconda, I explore how popular memetic culture is fueled by Black women’s creativity yet positions Black women’s bodies as the fodder for potent viral images on social media platforms and in everyday experiences; Black girlhoods, at this level of representation and in lived experiences, are rarely awarded the distinction from womanhood that many other girlhoods enjoy. Thus, Black feminist discourses of desire which speak to both girlhoods and womanhoods inform my argument that social media has become a site of reproduction and consumption—a technological auction block where Black women’s bodies, aesthetics, and experiences are vilified for viral enjoyment.

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Building the Femorabilia Special Collection

Methodologies and Practicalities

Nickianne Moody

In this article I examine the potential of the Femorabilia Collection of Women’s and Girls’ Twentieth Century Periodicals for the study of girlhood in Britain and the Commonwealth of Nations and I explain why the collection was originally created and describe its current purpose and policy to promote future research. I consider the importance of material and reading cultures as well as approaches to understanding the content of these varied publications and discuss the difficulties of working with mass culture, ephemeral texts, and the problem of obtaining examples, and I consider the collection’s particular focus on popular fiction. I consider the development of the collection, examples of methodology and practice, and its use in pedagogy, research, and public engagement.

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"Every time she bends over she pulls up her thong"

Teen Girls Negotiating Discourses of Competitive, Heterosexualized Aggression

Jessica Ringrose

In this paper I explore the themes of heterosexualized competition and aggression in Avril Lavigne's music video Girlfriend (2007) as representative of the violent heterosexualized politics within which girls are incited to compete in contemporary schooling and popular culture. I argue that psycho-educational discourses attempting to explain girls' aggression and bullying fail to account for the heterosexualized, classed or racialized power dynamics of social competition that organize heteronormative femininity. Then I elaborate a psychosocial approach using psychoanalytic concepts to trace how teen girls negotiate contemporary discourses of sexual aggression and competition. Drawing on findings from a study with racially and economically marginalized girls aged thirteen to fourteen attending an innercity school in South Wales, I suggest that the girls enact regulatory, classed discourses like slut to manage performances of heterosexualized aggression. However, alongside their demonstration of the impetus toward sexual regulation of one another, I show how the girls in my study are also attempting to challenge heteronormative formations of performing sexy-aggressive. Moments of critical resistance in their narratives, when they refuse to pathologize aggressive girls as mean and/or bullies, and in their fantasies, when they reject heterosexual relationships like marriage are explored.

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Mean, Wild, and Alienated

Girls and the State of Feminism in Popular Culture

Deirdre M. Kelly and Shauna Pomerantz

The article explores representations of "realistic" teen girlhood in popular culture in order to examine the current constructions of power made available to girls. Specifically, it focuses on three recent popular and critically acclaimed films: Mean Girls, Thirteen and Ghost World. The dominant discourses put forward in these films—girls as mean, as wild, and as alienated—naturalize negative behavior as a normal part of girlhood. In the terrain where these distinct, yet overlapping and reinforcing discourses on girlhood operate, postfeminism is taken for granted. Girls are portrayed as facing only individual concerns rather than any group-based injustices and, therefore, as not needing collective deliberation, evaluation, or action to solve their problems. The resulting discursive formation works to limit access to feminist and other oppositional discourses that name girls' experiences and link their feelings to the ongoing quest for gender justice.