464 episodes

Interviews with scholars of the performing arts about their new books
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New Books in Performing Arts Marshall Poe

    • Arts
    • 5.0 • 4 Ratings

Interviews with scholars of the performing arts about their new books
Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/performing-arts

    86 Dana Stevens on Buster Keaton (JP EF)

    86 Dana Stevens on Buster Keaton (JP EF)

    Dana Stevens joins Elizabeth and John to discuss Camera Man: Buster Keaton, the Dawn of Cinema and the Invention of the Twentieth Century. Her fantastic new book serves as occasion to revel in the work and working world of Buster Keaton, that "solemn, beautiful, perpetually airborne man."
    Although packed with fascinating tidbits from Keaton's life, Camera Man is much more than just a biography. It performs its own airborne magic, lightly traversing topics like the crackdown on the use of children in vaudeville, the fluidity of roles before and behind the camera in early Hollywood and the doors that were briefly (ever so briefly) opened for female directors. Among other treats, Dana unpacks one of Keaton's early great "two-reelers" One Week ( a spoof of brisk upbeat industrial films) and his parodic "burlesques" e.g. of Lillian Gish.
    People, Films, Books and Ideas in the conversation include:
    Roscoe ("Fatty") Arbuckle: got Keaton his start in early films like Butcher Boy, reportedly filmed the day Keaton first stepped onto a set. He said "Buster lived inside the camera."
    "Cinema of Attractions." a phrase coined by film historian Tom Gunning to describe the way the early years of cinema (1895 to 1913, more or less) achieved success by way of gags, stunts, special effects and other dazzling technological innovations--rather than plot or character development,.
    John and Dana rave about Keaton's last great film (age 33!), The Cameraman (1928) and deprecate the later silents (with a silent caveat for the pancake scene Grand Slam Opera).
    Mabel Normand: Arbuckle's longtime collaborator and briefly a rising director--Charlie Chaplin kneecapped her at a crucial moment in her career. Dana singles out for special praise Fatty and Mabel Adrift (1916) starring Luke, the first canine movie star.
    Singing in the Rain as a MGM-friendly myth-making explanation for Clara Bow's eclipse (and the famous vocal failure moment: "I can't stand 'im")
    Steamboat Bill Jr. ( 1928, Buster Keaton feature) "Keaton's most mature movie" says Dana.
    Read the transcript here.
    Elizabeth Ferry is Professor of Anthropology at Brandeis University. Email: ferry@brandeis.edu. John Plotz is Barbara Mandel Professor of the Humanities at Brandeis University and co-founder of the Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative. Email: plotz@brandeis.edu.
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    • 42 min
    John M. Shaw, "Following the Drums: African American Fife and Drum Music in Tennessee" (UP of Mississippi, 2022)

    John M. Shaw, "Following the Drums: African American Fife and Drum Music in Tennessee" (UP of Mississippi, 2022)

    Following the Drums: African American Fife and Drum Music in Tennessee (University Press of Mississippi, 2022) is an epic history of a little-known African American instrumental music form. Carefully documenting the music's early uses for commercial advertising and sports promotion, John M. Shaw follows the strands of the music through the nadir of African American history during post-Reconstruction up to the form's rediscovery by musicologists and music researchers during the blues and folk revival of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Following the Drums is a journey through African American history and Tennessee history, with a fascinating form of music powering the story.
    John M. Shaw is a musicologist, musician, writer, and blogger, currently pursuing a doctorate at the University of Memphis.
    Emily Ruth Allen (@emmyru91) holds a Ph.D. in musicology from Florida State University. Her current research focuses on parade musics in Mobile, Alabama's carnival.
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    • 48 min
    Alan John Ainsworth, "Sight Readings: Photographers and American Jazz, 1900-1960" (Intellect, 2022)

    Alan John Ainsworth, "Sight Readings: Photographers and American Jazz, 1900-1960" (Intellect, 2022)

    Alan John Ainsworth's book Sight Readings: Photographers and American Jazz, 1900-1960 (Intellect, 2022) explores the work of a wide range of American photographers attracted to jazz during the period 1900–60. It includes discussions of jazz as a visual subject, its attraction to different types of photographers and offers analysis of why and how they approached the subject in the way they did. While some of these photographers are widely recognized for their work, many African American photojournalists, studio photographers, early twentieth-century émigrés, the Jewish exiles of the 1930s and vernacular snapshots are frequently overlooked. Drawing on ideas from contemporary photographic theory backed up by extensive archival research, this book allows the reader to explore and understand twentieth-century jazz photography in both an engaging and comprehensive fashion.
    Adam Bobeck is a PhD candidate in Cultural Anthropology at the University of Leipzig. His PhD is entitled “Object-Oriented Azadari: Shi’i Muslim Rituals and Ontology”. For more about his work, see www.adambobeck.com.
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    • 53 min
    Leah Kardos, "Blackstar Theory: The Last Works of David Bowie" (Bloomsbury, 2022)

    Leah Kardos, "Blackstar Theory: The Last Works of David Bowie" (Bloomsbury, 2022)

    Blackstar Theory: The Last Works of David Bowie (Bloomsbury, 2022) takes a close look at David Bowie's ambitious last works: his surprise 'comeback' project The Next Day (2013), the off-Broadway musical Lazarus (2015) and the album that preceded the artist's death in 2016 by two days, Blackstar. The book explores the swirl of themes that orbit and entangle these projects from a starting point in musical analysis and features new interviews with key collaborators from the period: producer Tony Visconti, graphic designer Jonathan Barnbrook, musical director Henry Hey, saxophonist Donny McCaslin and assistant sound engineer Erin Tonkon.
    These works tackle the biggest of ideas: identity, creativity, chaos, transience and immortality. They enact a process of individuation for the Bowie meta-persona and invite us to consider what happens when a star dies. In our universe, dying stars do not disappear - they transform into new stellar objects, remnants and gravitational forces. The radical potential of the Blackstar is demonstrated in the rock star supernova that creates a singularity resulting in cultural iconicity. It is how a man approaching his own death can create art that illuminates the immortal potential of all matter in the known universe.
    Leah Kardos is a senior lecturer in music at Kingston University London, UK, where she co-founded the Visconti Studio with music producer Tony Visconti. She specializes in the areas of record production, pop aesthetics and criticism, and exploring interdisciplinary approaches to creative practice.
    Leah Kardos on Twitter

    Bradley Morgan is a media arts professional in Chicago and author of U2's The Joshua Tree: Planting Roots in Mythic America. He manages partnerships on behalf of CHIRP Radio 107.1 FM, serves as a co-chair of the associate board at the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and volunteers in the music archive at the Old Town School of Folk Music. Bradley Morgan on Twitter.
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    • 57 min
    Jeff Hayton, "Culture from the Slums: Punk Rock in East and West Germany" (Oxford UP, 2022)

    Jeff Hayton, "Culture from the Slums: Punk Rock in East and West Germany" (Oxford UP, 2022)

    Jeff Hayton's book Culture from the Slums: Punk Rock in East and West Germany (Oxford UP, 2022) is a cultural history of punk in Germany. The manuscript tracks “the advent and growth of punk in divided Germany during the 1970s and 1980s, and the social and political responses to the subculture” (23). These decades witnessed an explosion of alternative culture across divided Germany, and punk was a critical constituent of this movement. For young Germans at the time, punk appealed to those gravitating toward individual and cultural experimentation rooted in notions of authenticity—endeavors considered to be more “real” and “genuine.” Punk, however, was a foreign import and the way Germans in both East and West adapted it to their own local needs, and the divergent, yet surprisingly connected history of punk in both Germanies tell us much about German history and society in the 1980s. Culture from the Slums makes two broad claims. First, Hayton argues “punk was a medium for alternative living and a motor for social change.” (8) Much more than simply a waypoint on the narrative of progress that supposedly led from 1968 towards unification and beyond, it was an important social and musical movement. Second, through a comparative analysis of the subculture, Hayton argues that punk helps explain why West Germany flourished and why East Germany collapsed.
    Punk by the 1980s ceased to function as an instrument of difference in the west as it entered the mainstream, but the DDR never was able to control punk. Hayton examines the roles which punk played in German politics, society, and culture, and how German contexts transformed punk. Put differently: this study is about punk in Germany, and Germany in punk” (9) Culture from the Slums suggests that the ideas, practices, and communities which came out of Punk transformed both German societies along more diverse and ultimately democratic lines. The book is an important contribution to the growing scholarship of punk, which so far has been overwhelmingly focused on Anglo-American developments. Using a wealth of previously untapped archival documentation, the book integrates punk culture and music subculture into broader narratives of postwar inquiry and explains how punk rock shaped a divided Germany in the 1970s and 1980s.
    Ran Zwigenberg is an associate professor at Pennsylvania State University.
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    • 1 hr 7 min
    Ryan Uytdewilligen, "Killing John Wayne: The Making of the Conqueror" (Lyons Press, 2021)

    Ryan Uytdewilligen, "Killing John Wayne: The Making of the Conqueror" (Lyons Press, 2021)

    Behold the history of a film so scandalous, so outrageous, so explosive it disappeared from print for over a quarter century! A film so dangerous, half its cast and crew met their demise bringing eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes’ final cinematic vision to life! Starring All-American legend John Wayne in full Fu Manchu make-up as Mongol madman Genghis Khan! Featuring sultry seductress Susan Hayward as his lover! 
    Killing John Wayne (Lyons Press, 2021) is the true story of The Conqueror (1956), the worst movie ever made. Filmed during the dark underbelly of the 1950s—the Cold War—when nuclear testing in desolate southwestern landscapes was a must for survival, the very same landscapes were where exotic stories set in faraway lands could be made. Just 153 miles from the St. George, Utah, set, nuclear bombs were detonated regularly at Yucca Flat and Frenchman Flat in Nevada, providing a bizarre and possibly deadly background to an already surreal moment in cinema history. This book tells the full story of the making of The Conqueror, its ignominious aftermath, and the radiation induced cancer that may have killed John Wayne and many others.
    Ryan Uytdewilligen attended Lethbridge College in Alberta and earned a degree in Broadcast Journalism, leading to work in radio anchoring, reporting, and media coordinating for the prestigious Vancouver International Film Festival. After writing-producing his first short film, Tea Time (2014), he optioned two feature film scripts and has worked as a script doctor/writer for hire. In 2016, he published his first non-fiction work, a film history examination called 101 Most Influential Coming of Age Movies. Ryan currently resides in Vancouver, British Columbia. He would like to express his sympathy to everyone who lost a loved one that worked on The Conqueror.
    Daniel Moran earned his B.A. and M.A. in English from Rutgers University and his Ph.D. in History from Drew University. The author of Creating Flannery O’Connor: Her Critics, Her Publishers, Her Readers, he teaches research and writing at Rutgers and co-hosts the podcast Fifteen-Minute Film Fanatics (Twitter @15MinFilm).
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    • 33 min

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