Category Archives: cultural studies

June 20, 2014, 9:44 am

E-Snookered?

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Fill in the blank: “There’s a _____ born every minute.”

In today’s New York Times,  award-winning writer Tony Horwitz discusses the swampy territory of born-digital publishing. Secure in his reputation and presumably able to pay rent, a new online publication based in Australia offered Horwitz $15,000 and $5,000 in expenses to write an in-depth, extended investigation of the Keystone XL pipeline. “At the time I was researching a traditional print book, my seventh,” Horwitz writes. “But it was getting harder for me to feel optimistic about dead-tree publishing. Here was a chance to plant my flag in the online future and reach a younger and digitally savvy audience. The Global Mail would also be bankrolling the sort of long investigative journey I’d often taken as a reporter, before budgets and print space…

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January 28, 2014, 10:31 am

There Are More Than Two Sides To Everything

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I welcome the broader observations about the current state of American Studies that Christopher Shea has made at the Chronicle of Higher Education (“Boycott Debate is Symptom of Broader Debate in American Studies,” 1/27/2014). However, I do regret the characterization of the ASA as split between, as he implies, progressive proponents of the boycott and “cultural conservatives.”

Why? In my view, this choice reinforces the views of the most vigorous participants in this conversation (including those who have become activist in their views that an academic organization has no business becoming activist) that there are only two “sides.” You can call them radical and conservative;  or perhaps you will want to characterize them as those whose faces are turned to an intellectual future and the angry traditionalists. In the dichotomies proposed, there is no middle ground, no place of in…

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January 26, 2014, 11:09 am

Weekend Link-A-Palooza: Writing in Public and Cleaning My Desk

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What if the writing were on the wall? Photo credit

School is starting most places, except at chez Radical, where we are actors in a movie sequel called “Sabbatical Part II: Producing the Manuscript.” Yep, it’s true. What LD Burnett began at the #GraftonLine, now a thriving enterprise with 142 members (10 newbies have joined in recent weeks), I would like to push to the next level with this new book blog, How Feminism Survived the Age of Reagan. It is hosted on my own web page, and I will provide links here on a regular basis. I have been toying with this idea for a while, since many writers develop a platform specifically for a work in progress. Based on the wide re-tweeting of this post, I thought: what would it look like to write a book more or less in public, and demonstrate the work that goes into producing …

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August 6, 2013, 2:44 pm

Why *Not* Jeff Bezos? The Fall and Rise of Newspapers

337843ef-5a30-48aa-a8f7-ee569952eaddBy chance, I was checking Twitter only a few minutes after Donald Graham announced that his family had sold The Washington Post to Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. I spent the next 45 minutes or so glued to my iPhone5, following the ensuing Tweets. Some were from nervous WaPo journalists clearly eager to show that they were on board with the new boss.  What a graphic example of how much the dissemination, and nature, of news has changed since the Post broke the Watergate story forty years ago.

Can you imagine how differently Nixon’s demise might have played out in a Twitterized environment? How low the mighty have fallen — but is it, as so many observers assume, the advent of the Internet that destroyed newspapers? I don’t think so. Nevertheless, multiple stories have popped up overnight, asking some version of the question: can Jeff Bezos save journalism? Some folks, like

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June 17, 2013, 4:50 pm

Reasons to Quit Your Job, Part Eleventy

tumblr_m8t23d8EZ71rdpkbzo1_500Try Googling “Leaving Academia” and see how many posts come up. Lots. Many of them are sad or angry.  Some are very creative and talk about the real choices people have and why they activate them. There was at least one post making the rounds of Facebook a few months back in which someone struggling with an emotional disability and racism resigned, saying that it was impossible to preserve one’s sanity in the contemporary university. If you have tenure, or a tenure track job, you might want to check into these: what’s going on “out there” can really make you think hard about your own life and choices.

But then there are the other articles — the ones that the Huffington Post digs up, stories that are of “Jennifer Anniston’s Wedding on Hold” variety of academic news. Those are the ones that really cheer me up. (more…)

June 2, 2013, 2:55 pm

Gossip Girl: Hedda Hopper’s Conservative Empire

Jennifer Frost, Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood: Celebrity Gossip and American Conservatism. New York University Press, 2011. 281 pp. Index. B & W illustrations. Hardcover $31.50; Kindle $15.12.

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Hedda Hopper makes the cover of Time in 1947.

Every once in a while you read a book that is pure joy, and Jennifer Frost’s Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood hits all the right notes. It’s got movie stars, it’s got intrigue, and it’s got humor, it’s got a light but effective theoretical frame. Best of all, it’s organized around a driven, ambitious woman who — if she hadn’t played herself in any number of films — could have been played by Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, or Barbara Stanwyck. If they had dared.

Born Elda Furry in 1885, the butcher’s daughter who became Hedda Hopper fled industrial Altoona, Pennsylvania, with a suitcase…

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April 30, 2013, 8:53 am

The I’m Too Busy to Blog Post: Fat Armpits, Supreme Court Mulligans, and Mad Men’s Recent History

There are papers to grade, classes to prepare, a search to finish, a conference to pack for, and yet….that last post gets colder and colder as the days roll by. So without further delay, here are some shorts to brighten your day:

itw_coverFat Armpits Are The Worst. Before returning to Brooklyn Sunday, I was in the newly-ronovated Acme Market in Bryn Mawr, PA loading up on my favorite diet foods — Tastykakes, scrapple — and reading gossip mags in the checkout line. The misogynist gem to the right caught my attention. Kim Kardashian, who was on the rampage last year because everyone could have a baby but her, has learned to her horror that a growing fetus can make a girl look dumpy.

It must be terrible to be so fragile. According to celeb mag In TouchKardashian is on the brink of a breakdown, having discovered that aging leads to age and pregnancy leads to weight gain. In her seventh…

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January 15, 2013, 2:47 pm

It’s Queer Work If You Can Get It: The Celebrity Coming Out Speech

Sue Sylvester sez: just announce it, Jodie. Photo credit.

This week, in the aftermath of another Christ on a cracker we already knew banal celebrity coming out speech the action was hot on Tenured Radical‘s Facebook page. I had responded to the irritating status prompt “How are you feeling, Claire?” by writing that I was “feeling”:

…a little puzzled as to why Jodie Foster needed to do the drama queen thing about coming out at the Golden Globes. Since we all knew she was a lesbian, a press release would have been fine.

I have received many likes (I like to be liked) and many comments, only one of which has accused me of unfairly silencing the little lamb. How many ways can I describe my annoyance that Foster chose her acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award (for excellence…

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January 13, 2013, 11:38 am

Before Gay Was Good: Bob Mizer’s Aesthetic Legacy

Bob Mizer, @ 1942. Photo credit.

Yesterday your favorite Radical took some time off and bicycled over Manhattan to see the Bob Mizer show at Invisible Exports, a tiny gallery on Orchard Street. Born in southern Idaho, Mizer (1922-1992) was an early physique photographer, filmmaker  and the founder of Los Angeles’s Athletic Model Guild. This post over at Remains of the Web can give you a brief history of his career, as well as an account of the Bob Mizer Foundation, established to catalogue and preserve the capacious archive he left behind.

The gallery made the wise decision to show only a few conventional portraits. Much of the exhibit is made up of “catalogues,” storyboards Mizer created from contact prints, each of which depict an erotic scene (for example, “The Cowboy and the Bandit” or “The Unfaithful…

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January 10, 2013, 9:20 am

Department of Fluff: Cultural Studies Fun With British People

Margaret “Daisy” Suckley is on the far left. Photo credit.

This has been Mass Market British Culture Week at chez Radical (perhaps tomorrow we will have an Austin Powers festival.) So far we have been:

A Day Late and a Pound Short. Monday I watched the first episode of Downton Abbey, Season Three, broadcast on Sunday. It clocked in at almost two hours, which was a bit like lying on the couch eating salt water taffy for the evening. I can’t tell you anything very specific about the episode because I am sure there are people out there who have not watched it yet.  I do have a few comments:

  • Memories of the class warfare theme from #election2012 are still vivid. This may be why I was particularly struck by how the series has settled in to an utterly specious and ahistorical fantasy about the harmonious…

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