300 episodes

Interviews with Scholars of Popular Culture about their New Books

New Books in Popular Culture New Books Network

    • Society & Culture

Interviews with Scholars of Popular Culture about their New Books

    Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, "The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games" (NYU Press, 2019)

    Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, "The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games" (NYU Press, 2019)

    Ebony Elizabeth Thomas has written a beautiful, captivating, and thoughtful book about the idea of our imaginations, especially our cultural imaginations, and the images and concepts that we all consume, especially as young readers and audience members. The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games (NYU Press, 2019) dives into the question of, as Thomas explains, “why magical stories are written for some people and not for others.” Thomas explores the narratives of magical and fantastical stories, especially ones that currently dominate our Anglo-American cultural landscape, and discerns a kind of “imagination gap” in so many of these literary and visual artifacts. The Dark Fantastic provides a framework to consider this imagination gap, by braiding together scholarship from across a variety of disciplines to think about this space within literature and visual popular culture. Thomas theorizes a tool to examine many of these narratives, the cycle through which to contextualize the Dark Other within these fantastical narratives, noting that the Dark Other is the “engine that drives the fantastic.”
    The Dark Fantastic spends time analyzing and interrogating a variety of televisual and cinematic artifacts, noting how the Dark Other cycle operates in each of these narratives. In exploring these narratives, and considering who the protagonist is in so many cultural artifacts, the imagination gap becomes not only obvious but quite distinct. Thomas is concerned about this gap, because of the implication it has for readers and for film and television viewers—not only in regard to representation, but also in terms of learning how to imagine, how to dream, how to think conceptually, and how to center one’s self within these fictional spaces and created worlds.
    Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), as well as co-editor of Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern America (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015).
     
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    • 1 hr 6 min
    Nick Yablon, "Remembrance of Things Present: The Invention of the Time Capsule" (U Chicago Press, 2019)

    Nick Yablon, "Remembrance of Things Present: The Invention of the Time Capsule" (U Chicago Press, 2019)

    In Remembrance of Things Present: The Invention of the Time Capsule (University of Chicago Press, 2019), Nick Yablon traces the birth of the time capsule in the United States. Starting with the Gilded Age, Yablon explores the way Americans from diverse backgrounds constructed memories of their present through the creation of time capsules. Examining the ephemera included in the time capsules, including writing texts, photographs, phonographic records, films, and other artifacts, Yablon details the way these capsules not only created records of their time periods, but also how they show the ways in which their creators and contributors imagined the future. Remembrance of Things Present not only allows readers a glimpse into the history of time capsules, but also the ways in which politics, social justice, and American values were all represented in these buried treasures.
    Rebekah Buchanan is an Associate Professor of English at Western Illinois University. She researches zines, zine writers and the influence of music subcultures and fandom on writers and narratives. She is the author of Writing a Riot: Riot Grrrl Zines and Feminist Rhetorics (Peter Lang, 2018). You can find more about her on her website, follow her on Twitter @rj_buchanan or email her at rj-buchanan@wiu.edu.
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    • 1 hr
    Stephen Benedict Dyson, "Imagining Politics: Interpretations in Political Science and Political Television" (U Michigan Press, 2019)

    Stephen Benedict Dyson, "Imagining Politics: Interpretations in Political Science and Political Television" (U Michigan Press, 2019)

    Stephen Dyson has provided a fascinating and engaging analysis of political science, the discipline, and political television in his new book, Imagining Politics: Interpretations in Political Science and Political Television (University of Michigan Press, 2019). By examining particular popular culture narratives, in this case, nine popular and engaging television series, Dyson is not only analyzing the tropes and themes of these series, but he is braiding them together with broader disciplinary frameworks and concepts from political science. Thus, this book presents dual interpretative perspectives—from political science and from televisual narratives. Dyson’s larger point is that politics itself is a form of narrative that political scientists attempt to explain and make sense of through our own narrative constructions by way of conceptual theories of interpretation. In so doing, Imagining Politics is weaving together fictional and non-fictional narratives to compel the reader to consider how we frame and think about our understanding of politics and how we explain politics, especially in a discipline largely developed and devoted to making sense out of public life within contemporary western democracies.
    Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012).
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    • 45 min
    Hillary Reinsberg, "Zagat 2020 New York City Restaurants: Special 40th Anniversary Edition" (Zagat, 2019)

    Hillary Reinsberg, "Zagat 2020 New York City Restaurants: Special 40th Anniversary Edition" (Zagat, 2019)

    The red Zagat guide to restaurants was a fixture to a generation of New York diners before Google bought the brand and stopped publishing copies of the book. In time for the 40th Anniversary, new owners The Infatuation, and Editor in Chief Hillary Reinsberg released a new version and it is selling well and attracting renewed interest in the brand. Host Allen Salkin talks to Reinsberg about Zagat 2020 New York City Restaurants: Special 40th Anniversary Edition (Zagat, 2019) and asks Reinsberg if more cities will be receiving print guides and covers a lot of other topics in food and media.
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    • 1 hr 5 min
    Evan Friss, "On Bicycles: A 200-Year History of Cycling in New York City" (Columbia UP, 2019)

    Evan Friss, "On Bicycles: A 200-Year History of Cycling in New York City" (Columbia UP, 2019)

    Evan Friss, an associate professor of history at James Madison University, historicizes the bicycle’s place in New York City’s social, economic, infrastructural and cultural politics.
    On Bicycles: A 200-Year History of Cycling in New York City (Columbia UP, 2019) curates a history of the key moments and individuals who worked to integrate the bicycle and the bicyclist into the urban fabric. Friss explores the long-standing debate over what a bicycle is—cars and walkers, he contends, had specific places on city streets. The bicycle was a different story. New Yorkers strove to define and redefine the relationship among New York City, its people, and their bicycles. Beginning with the fad of velocipedes and the arrival of the first modern bicycles on city streets in the second half of the nineteenth century, On Bicycles highlights key moments in cycling history. With each era, a diverse cohort of cyclists and municipal officials tasked with integrating—or banning—bicycles from city streets. Cyclists turned to bikes as a form of exercise as recreation, as a liberating technology, and as transportation. In Friss’s capable telling, cycling is a window into the nature of transportation, streets, and urban life.
    Kara Murphy Schlichting is an assistant professor of history at Queens College, CUNY and author of New York Recentered: Building the Metropolis from the Shore.
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    • 49 min
    Andrea Kitta, "The Kiss of Death: Contagion, Contamination, and Folklore" (Utah State UP, 2019)

    Andrea Kitta, "The Kiss of Death: Contagion, Contamination, and Folklore" (Utah State UP, 2019)

    Disease is a social issue and not just a medical one. This is the central tenet underlying The Kiss of Death: Contagion, Contamination, and Folklore (Utah State University Press 2019) by Andrea Kitta, Associate Professor in the English department at East Carolina University, examines the discourses and metaphors of contagion and contamination in vernacular beliefs and practices across a number of media and forms. Using ethnographic, media, and narrative analysis, chapters discuss the changing representations of vampires and zombies in popular culture, the online discussions of Slenderman in relation to adolescent experiences of bullying, the misogyny embedded in legends about kisses that kill, and the racialized nature of patient-zero narratives that surrounding the spread of things like ebola, and the ways in which the HPV vaccine to homophobia. Issues like tellability and the stigmatized vernacular loom large throughout. Although folklorists will already recognize the social importance of vernacular narrative and belief, The Kiss of Death also shows how medical professionals have often failed to take vernacular forms into account. Through attention to narrative and vernacular belief, folklorists can model new forms of engaging with public health professionals and local communities.
    Timothy Thurston is Lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Leeds. His research examines language at the nexus of tradition and modernity in China’s Tibet.
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    • 1 hr 8 min

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