Dharma of the Dead: Zombies, Mortality and Buddhist Philosophy
Christopher M. Moreman
With the increased popularity of zombies in recent years, scholars have considered why the undead have so captured the public imagination. This book argues that the zombie can be viewed as an object of meditation on death, a memento mori that makes the fact of mortality more approachable from what has been described as America’s “death-denying culture.” The existential crisis in zombie apocalyptic fiction brings to the fore the problem of humanity’s search for meaning in an increasingly global and secular world. Zombies are analyzed in the context of Buddhist thought, in contrast with social and religious critiques from other works.
Jennifer Higdon: Composing in Color
Christina L. Reitz
Renowned composer Jennifer Higdon is best known for her symphonic pieces blue cathedral, Concerto for Orchestra, City Scape, Concerto 4-3 and Violin Concerto (2010 Pulitzer Prize). These compositions illustrate her breadth of style and avant-garde technique. The author examines these works—with commentary by Higdon—as well as the music of her first opera, with a focus on compositional history, musical characteristics, formal analysis and critical reception.
Growing Up with Vampires: Essays on the Undead in Children’s Media
Edited by Simon Bacon and Katarzyna Bronk
Vampire narratives are generally thought of as adult or young adult fare, yet there is a long history of their appearance in books, film and other media meant for children. They emerge as expressions of anxiety about change and growing up but sometimes turn out to be new best friends who highlight the beauty of difference and individuality.
This collection of new essays examines the history of vampires in 20th and 21st century Western popular media marketed to preteens and explores their significance and symbolism.
I Was Flesh Gordon: Fighting the Sex Ray and Other Adventures of an Accidental Porn Pioneer
Jason Williams with Derek McCaw
Hollywood, the 1970s. Jason Williams, a former college athlete from very conservative Orange County, hopes to become a film actor in a town where everyone’s looking for a break. He jumps at the chance for the lead in a science fiction parody, an X-rated (later R) spoof of Flash Gordon.
Sure, he has to get naked on camera—but so do lots of cute girls. He has no idea the production will be the start of an odyssey that will take him through the highs and lows of Tinseltown, and make him the most known unknown in movies—Flesh Gordon!
Deadwood and Shakespeare: The Henriad in the Old West
Susan Cosby Ronnenberg
Set in politically unstable environments, Shakespeare’s history plays—Richard II, 1 Henry IV, 2 Henry IV and Henry V—and HBO’s Western series Deadwood (2004–2006) all stand as critiques of myths of national origin, the sanitized stories we tell ourselves about how power imposes order on chaos. Drawing parallels between the Shakespeare plays and Deadwood, the author explores questions about legitimate political authority, the qualities of an effective leader, gender roles and community, and the reciprocal relationship between past and present in historical narratives.
Richard Pryor in Hollywood: The Narrative Films, 1967–1997
Hollywood studios were once eager to bring stand-up comedy king Richard Pryor’s dynamic humor to the big screen—so much so that studio executives gave him full access to available resources and creative control to develop his own projects. Unfortunately Pryor’s screen talents were far less acclaimed than his stage ones, and flops such as The Toy and Superman III greatly diminished his reputation. The author examines how this downfall unfolded through comprehensive analyses of each of Pryor’s movies.
Richard Matheson’s 1954 novel I Am Legend has spawned a series of iconic horror and science fiction films, including The Last Man on Earth (1964), The Omega Man (1971) and I Am Legend (2007). The compelling narrative of the last man on earth, struggling to survive a pandemic that has transformed the rest of humanity into monsters, has become an American myth. While the core story remains intact, filmmakers have transformed the details over time, reflecting changing attitudes about race and masculinity.
This reexamination of Matheson’s novel situates the tale of one man’s conflicted attitude about killing racialized “others” within its original post–World War II context, engaging the question of post-traumatic stress disorder. The author analyzes the several film adaptations, with a focus on the casting and interpretations of protagonist Robert Neville.
Group Motion in Practice: Collective Creation through Dance Movement Improvisation
Brigitta Herrmann and Manfred Fischbeck with Elia A. Sinaiko and Anna Beresin
Group Motion—an improvisational dance performance practice—represents fifty years of co-creation by the authors, with the participation of thousands of dancers, musicians, videographers and others around the globe. Informed by Mary Wigman’s expressionist dance and other contemporary dance and theater traditions, Group Motion has brought dance not only to stages worldwide, but also to public parks, prisons and airports.
Part memoir, part guidebook, part philosophy of art treatise, this book provides step-by-step guidance to dozens of improvisational structures or games for dance professionals, theater artists, musicians and other performers who use movement for creative expression.
John McTiernan is one of the most influential action filmmakers of his generation. Educated
at the American Film Institute and influenced by European cinematic style, he made his name with a trio of groundbreaking action films—Predator, Die Hard and The Hunt for Red October.
His later output was a mixture of successes and failures, including Last Action Hero, one of the most colossal misfires in Hollywood history. His career and personal life unravelled when he was indicted and briefly imprisoned for involvement in a wiretapping scandal.
Drawing on extensive research, the author covers McTiernan’s tumultuous life and career, from his early triumphs through his extensive legal battles and his multiple attempts at a comeback.
When Women Wrote Hollywood: Essays on Female Screenwriters in the Early Film Industry
Edited by Rosanne Welch
This collection of 23 new essays focuses on the lives of female screenwriters of Golden Age Hollywood, whose work helped create those unforgettable stories and characters beloved by audiences—but whose names have been left out of most film histories. The contributors trace the careers of such writers as Anita Loos, Adela Rogers St. Johns, Lillian Hellman, Gene Gauntier, Eve Unsell and Ida May Park, and explore themes of their writing in classics like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Ben Hur, and It’s a Wonderful Life.
Apocalyptic Visions in 21st Century Films
Elizabeth A. Ford and Deborah C. Mitchell
The apocalypse on the big screen has expanded beyond the familiar end-of-the-world movies. Romantic comedies, teen adventures and even children’s films frequently feature apocalyptic imagery—disintegrating cities, extreme weather events, extinctions, rogue military forces, epidemics, zombie armies and worlds colliding. Using sophisticated CGI effects, filmmakers are depicting the end of the world ever more stunningly.
The authors explore the phenomenon of the cinematic apocalypse and its origins in both our anxieties and our real-world events, and they identify some flashes of hope in the desolate landscape.
Field Recordings of Black Singers and Musicians: An Annotated Discography of Artists from West Africa, the Caribbean and the Eastern and Southern United States, 1901–1943
Compiled by Craig Martin Gibbs
Traditional African musical forms have long been accepted as fundamental to the emergence of blues and jazz. Yet there has been little effort at compiling recorded evidence to document their development. This discography brings together hundreds of recordings that trace in detail the evolution of the African American musical experience, from early wax cylinder recordings made in West Africa to voodoo rituals from the Carribean Basin to the songs of former slaves in the American South.
A childhood comic book fan turned comic book retailer, the author soon discovered the prevalence of scams in the world of comics collecting. This book is his tutorial on how to collect wisely and reduce risks. Drawing on skills learned from 20 years with the San Diego Police Department and as a Comic-Con attendee since 1970, he covers in detail the history and culture of collecting comic books and describes the pitfalls, including common deceptions of grading, pricing, as well as theft, and mail and insurance fraud.
The Women of Orphan Black: Faces of the Feminist Spectrum
Valerie Estelle Frankel
“Frankel takes a deep dive into the sci-fi cult hit Orphan Black…explor[es] how the show challenged female stereotypes and the often-limiting categories women are put into on screen by creating female characters who were radically different despite having the same DNA…examines each character in depth…Frankel also illuminates the science at the heart of the show, along with the many literary allusions referenced each season…smart analysis”
Magic in Britain: A History of Medieval and Earlier Practices
“The author allows the reader to see how the relationship between magic and the church changed over time…a collection of fascinating stories about people, places, and practices”
Our Fall 2018 catalog is now available—click here to see our authors’ forthcoming books!
Celebrate Pride Month with a good book—through the end of June, get 20% off ALL LGBTQ studies titles with the coupon code PRIDE18!
Women are now central to many science fiction films—but that has not always been the case. Female characters, from their token presence (or absence) in the silent pictures of the early 20th century to their roles as assistants, pulp princesses and sexy robots, and eventually as scientists, soldiers and academics, have often struggled to be seen and heard in a genre traditionally regarded as of men, by men and for men.
Surveying more than 650 films across 120 years, the author charts the highs and lows of women’s visibility in science fiction’s cinematic history through the effects of two world wars, social and cultural upheavals and advances in film technology.
Gay Icons: The (Mostly) Female Entertainers Gay Men Love
Who are the most significant gay icons and how did they develop? What influence do they have on gay individuals and communities?
This book focuses on the superstars, femmes fatales and divas of the gay celebrity pantheon—May West, Julie Andrews, Britney Spears, RuPaul, Cher, Divine, Sharon Needles and many others—and their contributions to gay culture and the complications of sexual and gender identity. The author explores their allure along with the mechanisms of iconicity.
Myth and Magic in Heavy Metal Music
Myth pervades heavy metal. With visual elements drawn from medieval and horror cinema, the genre’s themes of chaos, dissidence and alienation transmit an image of Promethean rebellion against the conventional. In dialogue with the modern world, heavy metal draws imaginatively on myth and folklore to construct an aesthetic and worldview embraced by a vast global audience. The author explores the music of Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Metallica and many others from a mythological and literary perspective.
Idol Talk: Women Writers on the Teenage Infatuations That Changed Their Lives
Edited by Elizabeth Searle and Tamra Wilson
In the midst of acne, social anxiety and training bras are the teen idols that make adolescent life a little more bearable. Whether their cutouts are plastered on bedroom walls or hidden behind locker doors, there is no denying the impact of these stars on young women.
This collection of new essays explores with tenderness and humor the teen crushes of the past 50 years—from Elvis to John Lennon to Diana Ross—who have influenced the choices of women, romantically or otherwise, well into adulthood.
Digital role-playing games such as Rift, Diablo III, and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning help players develop skills in critical thinking, problem solving, digital literacy, and lifelong learning. The author examines both the benefits and the drawbacks of role-playing games and their application to real-world teaching techniques. Readers will learn how to incorporate games-based instruction into their own classes and workplace training, as well as approaches to redesigning curriculum and programs.
Many critics and fans refer to the 1990s as the decade that horror forgot, with few notable entries in the genre. Yet horror went mainstream in the ’90s by speaking to the anxieties of American youth during one of the country’s most prosperous eras.
No longer were films made on low budgets and dependent on devotees for success. Horror found its way onto magazine covers, fashion ads and CD soundtrack covers. “Girl power” feminism and a growing distaste for consumerism defined an audience that both embraced and rejected the commercial appeal of these films.
This in-depth study examines the youth subculture and politics of the era, focusing on such films as Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992), Scream (1996), I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997), Idle Hands(1999) and Cherry Falls (2000).
Gale Storm: A Biography and Career Record
David C. Tucker
On December 31, 1939, nationwide radio audiences listened as 17-year-old Josephine Owaissa Cottle, a Texas schoolgirl, won Gateway to Hollywood’s new talent competition. Her prize was a movie contract at RKO and a memorable stage name—“Gale Storm.” One of the United States’ most beloved entertainers, she appeared in 35 films, starred in two hit television series (one was My Little Margie) and earned a gold record for “I Hear You Knockin’.”
Drawing on interviews with family, friends and colleagues, this biography provides many unpublished details of her life and career. An annotated filmography encompasses Storm’s time at Monogram Pictures, her roles in westerns and her appearances in classics such as It Happened on 5th Avenue. Her TV career is covered, including complete production histories and episode guides.
The Whedonverse Catalog: A Complete Guide to Works in All Media
Director, producer and screenwriter Joss Whedon is a creative force in film, television, comic books and a host of other media. This book provides an authoritative survey of all of Whedon’s work, ranging from his earliest scriptwriting on Roseanne, through his many movie and TV undertakings—Toy Story, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly/Serenity, Dr. Horrible, The Cabin in the Woods, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.—to his forays into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The book covers both the original texts of the Whedonverse and the many secondary works focusing on Whedon’s projects, including about 2000 books, essays, articles, documentaries and dissertations.
During the 1960s, many models, Playboy centerfolds, beauty queens, and Las Vegas showgirls went on to become “decorative actresses” appearing scantily clad on film and television. This well illustrated homage to 75 of these glamour girls reveals their unique stories through individual biographical profiles, photographs, lists of major credits and, frequently, in-depth personal interviews. Included are Carol Wayne, Edy Williams, Inga Neilsen, Thordis Brandt, Jo Collins, Phyllis Davis, Melodie Johnson, and many equally unforgettable faces of sixties Hollywood.
The history of Italian cinema includes, in addition to the renowned auteurs, a number of peculiar and lesser-known filmmakers. While their artistry was often plagued with production setbacks, their works—influenced by poetry, playwriting, advertising, literature, comics and a nonconformist, sometimes antagonistic attitude—were original and thought provoking.
Drawing from official papers and original scripts, this book includes previously unpublished information on the works and lives of post–World War II filmmakers Pier Carpi, Alberto Cavallone, Riccardo Ghione, Giulio Questi, Brunello Rondi, Paolo Spinola, Augusto Tretti and Nello Vegezzi.
Good Versus Evil in the Films of Christopher Lee
Sir Christopher Lee (1922–2015) was one of the most beloved actors of the past sixty years. He appeared in more than 200 feature films—from Hammer Horror and James Bond thrillers to Star Warsand Lord of the Rings—and more than 100 made-for-televison movies. A versatile performer, he played a menacing figure in Dracula and The Wicker Man, a tragic one in The Curse of Frankenstein and The Mummy, and a spiritual hero in The Devil Rides Out. This study explores his legacy as a film actor and his diverse interpretations of the theme of good vs. evil.
Empire and Black Images in Popular Culture
Joshua K. Wright
FOX’s musical drama Empire has been hailed as the savior of broadcast television, drawing 15 million viewers a week. A “hip-hopera” inspired by Shakespeare’s King Lear and 1980s prime-time soap Dynasty, the series is at the forefront of a black popular culture Renaissance—yet has stirred controversy in the black community. Is Empire shifting paradigms or promoting pernicious stereotypes?
Examining the evolution and potency of black images in popular culture, the author explores Empire’s place in a diverse body of literature and media, data and discussions on respectability.
The Composer on Screen: Essays on Classical Music Biopics
Edited by Paul Fryer
This collection of new essays explores the many ways in which composers have been depicted in film and what audiences have taken away from such depictions. Beginning with some of the earliest silent film examples—including some of the first feature-length “bio-pics” ever produced—these essays range from the 12th century abbess Hildegard of Bingen to the great classical and romantic eras of Verdi, Wagner, Berlioz and Strauss, up to the 20th century’s Elgar, Delius, Gershwin and Blitzstein.
Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2017
Harris M. Lentz III
The entertainment world lost many notable talents in 2017, including iconic character actor Harry Dean Stanton, comedians Jerry Lewis and Dick Gregory, country singer Glen Campbell, playwright Sam Shepard and actor-singer Jim Nabors.
Obituaries of actors, filmmakers, musicians, producers, dancers, composers, writers, animals and others associated with the performing arts who died in 2017 are included. Date, place and cause of death are provided for each, along with a career recap and a photograph. Filmographies are given for film and television performers. Books in this annual series are available dating to 1994—a subscription is available for future volumes.
Love on the Racks: A History of American Romance Comics
For the better part of three decades romance comics were an American institution. Nearly 6,000 titles were published between 1947 and 1977, and for a time one in five comics sold in the U.S. was a romance comic.
This first full-length study examines the several types of romance comics, their creators and publishing history. The author explores significant periods in the development of the genre, including the origins of Archie Comics and other teen publications, the romance comic “boom and bust” of the 1950s, and their sudden disappearance when fantasy and superhero comics began to dominate in the late 1970s.
Claire Trevor: The Life and Films of the Queen of Noir
Claire Trevor (1910–2000) is best remembered as the alluring blonde femme fatale in such iconic noir films as Murder, My Sweet (1944) and Raw Deal (1948). Yet she was a versatile performer who brought rare emotional depth to her craft. She was effective in a range of diverse roles, from an outcast prostitute in John Ford’s classic Stagecoach (1939) to the ambitious tennis mother in Hard, Fast and Beautiful (1951) to the embittered wife of a landowner in William Wellman’s overlooked gem My Man and I (1952). Nominated for four Oscars, she deservedly won Best Supporting Actesss for her portrayal of Gaye Dawn, a gangster’s broken-down moll in Key Largo (1948). The author covers her life and career in detail, recognizing her as one of the finest actresses of her generation.
Summer blockbuster season seems to start earlier each year, but that’s all fine and dandy with the Marvel and Star Wars fans at McFarland! Beginning on Star Wars Day, McFarland is offering a sale for our books about film, television and related pop culture. When you order direct from our website using the coupon code PopCulture25, print editions of all pop culture books are 25% off on Star Wars Day, May 4 through Friday, May 11. May the fourth be with you!
Science fiction movie audiences may sometimes wonder how fictitious the science in a film really is. Yet for many—call them the “Jurassic Park generation”—film and popular media can present a seemingly plausible melding of science and fiction that forms a distorted understanding of scientific facts and concepts. Recognizing that film is both the dominant entertainment medium and an effective tool for teaching, this book—featuring articles originally published in the magazine Scary Monsters—separates biological reality from fantasy in dozens of science fiction films, including The Island of Lost Souls (1933), The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), War of the Worlds (1953), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Scanners (1980), The Serpent and the Rainbow (1987) and Outbreak (1995).
The witch as a cultural archetype has existed in some form since the beginning of recorded history. Her nature has changed through technological developments and sociocultural shifts—a transformation most evident in her depictions on screen.
This book traces the figure of the witch through American screen history with an analysis of the entertainment industry’s shifting boundaries concerning expressions of femininity. Focusing on films and television series from The Wizard of Oz to The Craft, the author looks at how the witch reflects alterations of gender roles, religion, the modern practice of witchcraft, and female agency.
Set in the American Southwest, “desert terror” films combine elements from horror, film noir and road movies to tell stories of isolation and violence. For more than half a century, these diverse and troubling films have eluded critical classification and analysis. Highlighting pioneering filmmakers and bizarre production stories, the author traces the genre’s origins and development, from cult exploitation (The Hills Have Eyes, The Hitcher) to crowd-pleasing franchises (Tremors, From Dusk Till Dawn) to quirky auteurist fare (Natural Born Killers, Lost Highway) to more recent releases (Bone Tomahawk, Nocturnal Animals). Rare stills, promotional materials and a filmography are included.
The Women of Orphan Black: Faces of the Feminist Spectrum
Valerie Estelle Frankel
Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany plays a host of the show’s main characters, all clones of an illegal experiment. The mighty heroines save one another and destroy the patriarchy—with the aid of supportive yet bumbling males—while subverting gender expectations and celebrating the many facets of feminism.
Sarah, the punk feminist clashing with her radical feminist foster-mother; Alison, the quintessential post-feminist housewife; Cosima, a herald of second-wave lesbian feminism in Birkenstocks and dreads; Beth, a third-wave feminist bogged down by drug and relationship problems; and M.K. a fourth-wave feminist who tackles the hardships of disability through the Internet. This book explores these portrayals and how they relate to the science and ethics surrounding cloning through an emphasis on the women’s war against corporate power.
Featuring interviews with the creators of 36 popular video games—including Deus Ex, Night Trap, Mortal Kombat, Wasteland and NBA Jam—this book gives a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of some of the most influential and iconic (and sometimes forgotten) games of all time. Recounting endless hours of painstaking development, the challenges of working with mega publishers and the uncertainties of public reception, the interviewees reveal the creative processes that produced some of gaming’s classic titles.
Hollywood Heyday: 75 Candid Interviews with Golden Age Legends
David Fantle and Tom Johnson
“What audacity!” exclaimed Robert Wagner when he heard about the authors’ adolescent exploits in nabbing interviews with celebrities of Hollywood’s Golden Age.
In 1978, David Fantle and Tom Johnson, St. Paul teenagers fresh out of high school, boarded a plane to meet with Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. On a lark, they had written the two stars requesting interviews—to their amazement, both had agreed.
Over the years, more than 250 other stars also agreed—Lucille Ball, Bob Hope, James Cagney, Mickey Rooney, Debbie Reynolds, George Burns, Rod Steiger, Milton Berle, Frank Capra and Hoagy Carmichael, to name a few. Published for the first time and with exclusive photos, this selection of 75 interviews chronicles the authors’ 40-year quest for wisdom, insights and anecdotes from iconic artists who defined 20th century American popular culture.
Uncovering Stranger Things: Essays on Eighties Nostalgia, Cynicism and Innocence in the Series
Edited by Kevin J. Wetmore, Jr.
The Duffer Brothers’ award-winning Stranger Things exploded onto the pop culture scene in 2016. The Netflix original series revels in a nostalgic view of 1980s America while darkly portraying the cynical aspects of the period. This collection of 23 new essays explores how the show reduces, reuses and recycles ’80s pop culture—from the films of Spielberg, Carpenter and Hughes to punk and synthwave music to Dungeons & Dragons—and how it shapes our understanding of the decade through distorted memory. Contributors discuss gender and sexual orientation; the politics, psychology and educational policies of the day; and how the ultimate upper-class teen idol of the Reagan era became Stranger Things‘ middle-aged blue-collar heroine.
Women in STEM on Television: Critical Essays
Edited by Ashley Lynn Carlson
Women remain woefully underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Negative stereotypes about women in these fields are pervasive, rooted in the debunked claim that women have less aptitude than men in science and math. While some TV series present portrayals that challenge this stereotype, others reinforce troubling biases—sometimes even as writers and producers attempt to champion women in STEM.
This collection of new essays examines numerous popular series, from children’s programs to primetime shows, and discusses the ways in which these narratives inform cultural ideas about women in STEM.
Perilous Escapades: Dimensions of Popular Adventure Fiction
Adventure fiction is one of the easiest narrative forms to recognize but one of the hardest to define because of its overlap with many other genres. This collection of essays attempts to characterize adventure fiction through the exploration of key elements—such as larger-than-life characters and imperialistic ideas—in the genre’s 19th- and 20th-century British and American works like The Scarlet Pimpernel by Orczy and Captain Blood by Sabatini. The author explores the cultural and literary impact of such works, presenting forgotten classics in a new light.
The Incomparable Hildegarde: The Sexuality, Style and Image of an Entertainment Icon
Monica Storme Gallamore
The Incomparable Hildegarde (1906–2005) lived a life of glamour and excitement. She began her career as a pianist in Milwaukee’s silent movie theaters, which led to the Vaudeville stage. By the 1930s, she was singing in the cabarets of Paris and London, rubbing elbows with royalty, White Russians, and Josephine Baker. Returning to the U.S., she became the darling of the New York City supper club scene. Her name and style became synonymous with high-class entertainment at venues like the Persian Room at the Plaza Hotel. She started fashion trends, had her own signature Revlon nail and lip color, and was the first to have hits with many standards of the World War II era.
This first biography of Hildegarde Sill covers her 70–year career, emphasizing her importance in 20th-century American popular culture. The author analyzes her intimate relationship with her manager of two decades, Anna Sosenko.
Jessica Jones, Scarred Superhero: Essays on Gender, Trauma and Addiction in the Netflix Series
Edited by Tim Rayborn and Abigail Keyes
Jessica Jones barged onto our screens in November 2015, courtesy of Marvel and Netflix, presenting a hard-drinking protagonist who wrestles with her own inner (and outer) demons. Gaining enhanced abilities as a teenager, she eschews the “super costume” and is far more concerned with the problems of daily life. But when Jessica falls under the control of a villain, her life changes forever.
Based on the comic book Alias, the show won a large following and critical acclaim for its unflinching look at subjects like abuse, trauma, PTSD, rape culture, alcoholism, drug addiction, victims’ plight and family conflicts.
This collection of new essays offers insight into the show’s complex themes and story lines.
Detective McNulty applies bite marks to a deceased man’s body with a set of dentures in The Wire, illustrating how officialdom deals in falsehood. Dr. Strangelove lovingly describes the “doomsday machine” as being free from “human meddling,” while it destroys the world, highlighting the absurdity of placing systems above any moral considerations. In Crash, Ballard survives a car accident only to be cared for by a paternal technology that tends only to his physical needs—a life of technical certitude bereft of beauty.
The Cold War, with its promise of imminent and purposeless doom, profoundly shaped the post-modern world in ways that are not yet appreciated. This study examines the Cold War zeitgeist and its aftermath as shown in fiction, film and television.
GB. Grayson and Henry Whitter were two of the most influential artists in the early days of country music. Songs they popularized—“Tom Dooley,” “Little Maggie,” “Handsome Molly,” and “Nine Pound Hammer”—are still staples of traditional music. Although the duo sold tens of thousands of records during the 1920s, the details of their lives remain largely unknown.
Featuring never before published photographs and interviews with friends and relatives, this book chronicles for the first time the romantic intrigues and tragic deaths that marked their lives and explores the Southern Appalachian culture that shaped their music.
Exploring Downton Abbey: Critical Essays
Edited by Scott F. Stoddart
The BBC television series Downton Abbey (2010–2016), highly rated in the UK, achieved cult status among American viewers, harking back to the days when serial dramas ruled the airwaves. The show’s finale was one of the most watched in all of television history.
This collection of new essays by British and American contributors explores how a series about life in an early 20th century English manor home resonated with American audiences. Topics include the role of the house in literature and film, the changing roles of women and the servant class, the influence of jazz and fashion, and attitudes regarding education and the class system.
Buster Keaton “can impress a weary world with the vitally important fact that life, after all, is a foolishly inconsequential affair,” wrote critic Robert Sherwood in 1918. A century later Keaton, with his darkly comic “theater of the absurd,” speaks to audiences like no other silent comedian. If you thought you knew Keaton—think again!
Mixed martial arts or MMA is widely regarded as the fastest growing sport. Events fill stadiums around the world and draw vast television audiences, earning strong revenue through pay-per-view at a time when other sports have abandoned it. In 2016, the Ultimate Fighting Championship was bought by the massive talent agency WME-IMG for $4 billion. Despite this success, much of the public remains uneasy with the sport, which critics have denounced as “human cockfighting.”
Through an exploration of violence, class, gender, race and nationalism, the author finds that MMA is both an expression of the positive values of martial arts and a spectacle defined by narcissism, hate and patriarchy. The long-term success of MMA will depend on the ability of promoters and athletes to resist indulging in spectacle at the expense of sport.
Joss Whedon’s Big Damn Movie: Essays on Serenity
Edited by Frederick Blichert
When Joss Whedon’s television show Firefly (2002–2003) was cancelled, devoted fans cried foul and demanded more—which led to the 2005 feature film Serenity. Both the series and the film were celebrated for their melding of science fiction and western iconography, dystopian settings, underdog storylines, and clever fast-paced dialogue.
Firefly has garnered a great deal of scholarly attention—less so, Serenity. This collection of new essays, the first focusing exclusively on the film, examines its depictions of race, ableism, social engineering and systems of power, and its status as a crime film, among other topics.
Sherlock and Digital Fandom: The Meeting of Creativity, Community and Advocacy
Jennifer Wojton and Lynnette Porter
When the BBC’s Sherlock debuted in summer 2010—and appeared in the U.S. on PBS a few months later—no one knew it would become an international phenomenon. The series has since gathered a diverse and enthusiastic fandom.
Like their hero, Sherlock fans scrutinize clues about the show’s deeper meaning, as well as happenings off screen. They postulate theories and readings of the characters and their relationships. They have tweeted with “The Powers That Be,” mobilized to filming locations via #Setlock, and become advocates for LGBTQIA communities.
Sherlock’s digital communities have changed the way that fans and series creators interact in person and online, as each publicly takes “ownership” of beloved television characters who represent far more than entertainment to fans.
Persia had Rostam. Babylonia had Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Egypt had Horus and Isis. Greece had Odysseus and Achilles.
Israel had its heroes, too–Moses, David, Esther and Samson. While Israel’s heroes did not wear capes or spandex, they did meet cultural needs.
In times of crisis, heroes emerge to model virtues that inspire a sense of commitment and worth. Identity concerns were especially acute for a post-exilic Jewish culture. Using modern American superheroes and their stories in a cross-cultural discussion, this book presents the stories of Israelite characters as heroes filling a cultural need.
Text & Presentation, 2017
Edited by Jay Malarcher
Presenting some of the best work from the 2017 Comparative Drama Conference at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, this collection highlights the latest research in comparative drama, performance and dramatic textual analysis. Contributors cover a broad range of topics, from the “practical ethnography” of directing foreign language productions to writing for theoretical stages to the “radical deaf theater” of Aaron Sawyer’s The Vineyard. A full transcript of the keynote conversation with American playwright and screenwriter Lisa Loomer is included.
Jack Lord: An Acting Life
Sylvia D. Lynch
Before his rise to superstardom portraying Detective Steve McGarrett on the long-running police drama Hawaii Five-O, Jack Lord was already a dedicated and versatile actor on Broadway, in film and on television.
His range of roles included a Virginia gentleman planter in Colonial Williamsburg (The Story of a Patriot), CIA agent Felix Leiter in the first James Bond movie (Dr. No) and the title character in the cult classic rodeo TV series Stoney Burke. Lord’s career culminated in twelve seasons on Hawaii Five-O, where his creative control of the series left an indelible mark on every aspect of its production.
This book, the first to draw on Lord’s massive personal archive, gives a behind-the-scenes look into the life and work of a TV legend.
Among the top-grossing Hollywood blockbusters of all time, Star Wars launched one of the most successful movie and licensing franchises in history. Yet much of the film’s backstory was set in Britain, where the original trilogy was made and where early efforts at tie-in merchandising were spearheaded.
The author provides a detailed account of the saga’s British connection, including personal recollections of fans in the UK, exclusive interviews with staff members of Palitoy who took on the challenge of producing millions of toys, and the story of how a group of writers from the underground press in London combined with Marvel comics to produce the first Star Wars expanded universe.
Identity in Professional Wrestling: Essays on Nationality, Race and Gender
Edited by Aaron D. Horton
Part sport, part performance art, professional wrestling’s appeal crosses national, racial and gender boundaries—in large part by playing to national, racial and gender stereotypes that resonate with audiences. Scholars who study competitive sports tend to dismiss wrestling, with its scripted outcomes, as “fake,” yet fail to recognize a key similarity: both present athletic displays for maximized profit through live events, television viewership and merchandise sales.
This collection of new essays contributes to the literature on pro wrestling with a broad exploration of identity in the sport. Topics include cultural appropriation in the ring, gender non-comformity, national stereotypes, and wrestling as transmission of cultural values.
Women in Doctor Who: Damsels, Feminists and Monsters
Valerie Estelle Frankel
Over the past half-century Doctor Who has defined science fiction television. The women in the series—from orphans and heroic mothers to seductresses and clever teachers—flourish in their roles yet rarely surmount them. Some companions rescue the Doctor and charm viewers with their technical brilliance, while others only scream for rescue. The villainesses dazzle with their cruelty, from the Rani to Cassandra and Missy. Covering all of the series—classic and new—along with Class, K9, Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures, novels, comics and Big Finish Audio adventures, this book examines the women archetypes in Doctor Who.
Ajax, the archetypal Greek warrior, has over the years been trivialized as a peripheral character in the classics through Hollywood representations, and by the use of his name on household cleaning products. Examining a broad range of sources—from film, art and literature to advertising and sports—this study of the “Bulwark of the Achaeans” and his mythological image redefines his presence in Western culture, revealing him as the predominant voice in The Iliad and in myriad works across the classical canon.
The Art of American Screen Acting, 1912–1960
Some people claim that audiences go to the movies for the genre. Others say they go for the director. But most really go to see their favorite actors and actresses. This book explores the work of many of classic Hollywood’s influential stars, such as James Cagney, Bette Davis, Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn.
These so-called “pre–Brando” entertainers, often dismissed as old fashioned, were part of an explosion of talent that ran from the late 1920s through the early 1950s. The author analyzes their compelling styles and their ability to capture audiences.
The Collected Sonnets of William Shakespeare, Zombie
William Shakespeare and Chase Pielak
What if one of literature’s greatest poets was actually a zombie, writing in an Elizabethan world teeming with the undead hiding in plain sight? Inviting readers to see the sublime in the looming apocalypse, this book presents all 154 Shakespearean sonnets (with minor alterations transfigured into “zonnets”) in their horrifying glory, highlighting transcendent themes of love, death, beauty and feasting on the flesh of the living. Each sonnet portrays a zombie encounter, with accompanying vignettes revealing the struggles of undead life in early modern England. Original illustrations by Anna Pagnucci bring the nightmare to life. Shakespeare will never be the same.
Bonds of Brotherhood in Sons of Anarchy: Essays on Masculinity in the FX Series
Edited by Susan Fanetti
One of FX’s most successful original productions, Sons of Anarchy roared onto the screen in 2008 and dominated the cable network’s programming for seven seasons. Following an outlaw motorcycle club on its Shakespearean journey, the series took audiences on a wild ride powered by a high-octane brand of masculinity.
This collection of new essays explores the show’s complicated presentation of masculinity and its cultural implications. Series creator and writer Kurt Sutter depicts male characters who act from a highly traditional sense of what it means to be a man. SOA both vaunts and challenges that sense of manhood as the characters face the consequences of their ride-or-die lifestyle.
ABC Family to Freeform TV: Essays on the Millennial-Focused Network and Its Programs
Edited by Emily L. Newman and Emily Witsell
Launched in 1977 by the Christian Broadcasting Service (originally associated with Pat Robertson), the ABC Family/Freeform network has gone through a number of changes in name and ownership. Over the past decade, the network—now owned by Disney—has redefined “family programming” for its targeted 14- to 34-year-old demographic, addressing topics like lesbian and gay parenting, postfeminism and changing perceptions of women, the issue of race in the U.S., and the status of disability in American culture.
This collection of new essays examines the network from a variety of perspectives, with a focus on inclusive programming that has created a space for underrepresented communities like transgender youth, overweight teens, and the deaf.
Assembling the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Essays on the Social, Cultural and Geopolitical Domains
Edited by Julian C. Chambliss, William L. Svitavsky and Daniel Fandino
The Marvel Cinematic Universe—comprised of films, broadcast television and streaming series and digital shorts—has generated considerable fan engagement with its emphasis on socially relevant characters and plots. Beyond considerable box office achievements, the success of Marvel’s movie studios has opened up dialogue on social, economic and political concerns that challenge established values and beliefs. This collection of new essays examines those controversial themes and the ways they represent, construct and distort American culture.
The Postmodern Joy of Role-Playing Games: Agency, Ritual and Meaning in the Medium
René Reinhold Schallegger
Historian Johan Huizinga once described game playing as the motor of humanity’s cultural development, predating art and literature. Since the late 20th century, Western society has undergone a “ludification,” as the influence of game-playing has grown ever more prevalent. At the same time, new theories of postmodernism have emphasized the importance of interactive, playful behavior.
Core concepts of postmodernism are evident in pen-and-paper role-playing, such as Dungeons and Dragons. Exploring the interrelationships among narrative, gameplay, players and society, the author raises questions regarding authority, agency and responsibility, and discusses the social potential of RPGs in the 21st century.
Becoming John Wayne: The Early Westerns of a Screen Icon, 1930–1939
Larry Powell and Jonathan H. Amsbary
Exploring the early westerns of John Wayne—from his first starring role in the The Big Trail (1930) to his breakthrough as the Ringo Kid in John Ford’s Stagecoach (1939)—the authors trace his transformation from Marion Mitchell Morrison, movie studio prop man, into John Wayne, a carefully crafted film persona of his own invention that made him world famous. Wayne’s years of training went well beyond honing his acting skill, as he developed the ability to do his own stunts, perfected his technique as a gun handler and became an expert horseman.
Chivalry in Westeros: The Knightly Code of A Song of Ice and Fire
Carol Parrish Jamison
George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire has sparked a renewed interest in things medieval. The pseudo-historical world of Westeros delights casual fans while offering a rich new perspective for medievalists and scholars.
This study explores how Martin crafts a chivalric code that intersects with and illuminates well known medieval texts, including both romance and heroic epics.
Through characters such as Brienne of Tarth, Sandor Clegane and Jaime Lannister, Martin variously challenges, upholds and deconstructs chivalry as depicted in the literature of the Middle Ages.
Saturday Night Live and the 1976 Presidential Election: A New Voice Enters Campaign Politics
William T. Horner and M. Heather Carver
The debut of Saturday Night Live and the 1976 presidential election between Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter had enduring effects on American culture. With its mix of sketch comedy and music, SNL grabbed huge ratings and several Emmys in its first season. President Ford’s press secretary, Ron Nessen, was the first politician to host SNL. Ford also appeared on the show, via video tape, to offer a comic counterpunch to Chevy Chase’s signature line, “I’m Chevy Chase and you’re not.” Since then, it has become a rite of passage for national politicians to appear on SNL, and the show’s treatment of them and their platforms has a continuing impact on political discourse.
Historically, zombies have been portrayed in films and television series as mindless, shuffling monsters. In recent years, this has changed dramatically. The undead are fast and ferocious in 28 Days Later… (2002) and World War Z (2013). In Warm Bodies (2013) and In the Flesh (2013–2015), they are thoughtful, sensitive and capable of empathy. These sometimes radically different depictions of the undead (and the still living) suggest critical inquiries: What does it mean to be human? What makes a monster? Who survives the zombie apocalypse, and why? Focusing on classic and current movies and TV shows, the author reveals how the once-subversive modern zombie, now more popular than ever, has been co-opted by the mainstream culture industry.
Egyptomania Goes to the Movies: From Archaeology to Popular Craze to Hollywood Fantasy
“Informative and fun…provides much interesting detail…recommended.”
Player and Avatar: The Affective Potential of Videogames
“An engaging book…approachable, topical, and well sourced…recommended”
P.D. James: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction
Laurel A. Young
Harry Potter and Convergence Culture: Essays on Fandom and the Expanding Potterverse
Edited by Amanda Firestone and Leisa A. Clark
Since the 1997 publication of the first Harry Potter novel, the “Potterverse” has seen the addition of eight feature films (with a ninth in production), the creation of the interactive Pottermore© website, the release of myriad video games, the construction of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, several companion books (such as Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), critical essays and analyses, and the 2016 debut of the original stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
This collection of new essays interprets the Wizarding World beyond the books and films through the lens of convergence culture. Contributors explore how online communities tackle Sorting and games like the Quidditch Cup and the Triwizard Tournament, and analyze how Fantastic Beasts and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child are changing fandom and the canon alike.
A Dark California: Essays on Dystopian Depictions in Popular Culture
Edited by Katarzyna Nowak-McNeice and Agata Zarzycka
Focusing on portrayals of California in popular culture, this collection of new essays traces a central theme of darkness through literature (Toby Barlow, Angela Carter, Joan Didion, Thomas Pynchon, and Claire Vaye Watkins), video games (L.A. Noire), music (Death Grips, Lana Del Rey, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers), TV (True Detective and American Horror Story), and film (Starry Eyes, Southland Tales and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night).
Providing insight into the significance of Californian icons, the contributors explore the interplay between positive stereotypes connected to the myth of the Golden State and ambivalent responses to the myth based on social and political power, the consequences of consumerism, transformations of the landscape and the dominance of hyperreality.
Exploring Picard’s Galaxy: Essays on Star Trek: The Next Generation
Edited by Peter W. Lee
Serving as the sequel to Gene Roddenberry’s original television series, Star Trek: The Next Generation pushed the boundaries of the “final frontier.” At the same time, the show continued the franchise’s celebrated exploration of the human experience, reflecting current social and political events. ST:TNG became immensely successful, spawning four feature films and several television spin-offs.
This collection of new essays explores both the series’ characters and its themes. Topics include the Federation’s philosophy concerning technocracy, sexuality and biopolitics; foreign policy shifts in the Prime Directive; key characters including Jean-Luc Picard, Data, Deanna Troi, Tasha Yar; and Klingon martial arts, music, and history.
Indie Science Fiction Cinema Today: Conversations with 21st Century Filmmakers
Kathleen Fernandez-Vander Kaay and Chris Vander Kaay
Much of 20th century science fiction foretold technological and social developments beyond the year 2000. Since then, a key theme has been: what happens when the future no one anticipated arrives faster than anyone expected? Focusing on 21st century independent science fiction films, the author describes a seismic shift in subject matter as society moves into a new technological age. Independent films since the millennium are more daring, incisive and even plausible in their depiction of possible futures than blockbuster films of the same period. Twenty-one chapters break down today’s subgenres, featuring interviews with the filmmakers who created them.
Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Film Sequels, Series and Remakes: An Illustrated Filmography, Volume II (1996–2016)
Kim R. Holston and Tom Winchester
Science fiction, fantasy and horror movies have spawned more sequels and remakes than any other film genre. Following Volume 1, which covered 400 films made 1931–1995, Volume 2 of this comprehensive reference analyzes 334 releases 1996–2017. The traditional cinematic monsters are represented—Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolf Man, a new Mummy. A new wave of popular series inspired by comics and video games, as well as The Lord of the Rings trilogy, could never have been credibly produced without advances in special effects technology. Audiences follow the exploits of superheroes like Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man and Thor, and such heroines as the vampire Selene, zombie killer Alice, dystopian rebels Katniss Everdeen and Imperator Furiosa, and Soviet spy turned American agent Black Widow. The continuing depredations of Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers are described. Pre–1996 movies that have since been remade are included. Entries features cast and credits, detailed synopsis, critics’ reviews, and original analysis.
The Creature Chronicles: Exploring the Black Lagoon Trilogy
Tom Weaver, David Schecter and Steve Kronenberg
He was the final addition to Universal’s “royal family” of movie monsters: the Creature from the Black Lagoon. With his scaly armor, razor claws and a face only a mother octopus could love, this Amazon denizen was perhaps the most fearsome beast in the history of Hollywood’s Studio of Horrors. But he also possessed a sympathetic quality which elevated him fathoms above the many aquatic monsters who swam in his wake.
Everything you ever wanted to know about the Gill Man and his mid–1950s film career (Creature from the Black Lagoon, Revenge of the Creature, The Creature Walks Among Us) is collected in this book, packed to the gills with hour-by-hour production histories, cast bios, analyses, explorations of the music, script-to-screen comparisons, in-depth interviews and an ocean of fin-tastic photos.
Our Spring 2018 New Books catalog is now available—click to see what our authors have in store for the new year!
Where Monsters Walked: California Locations of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, 1925–1965
Gail Orwig and Raymond Orwig
This richly illustrated guide to dozens of California filming locations covers four decades of science fiction, fantasy and horror movies, documenting such familiar places as the house used in Psycho and the Bronson Caves of Robot Monster, along with less well known sites from films like Lost Horizon and Them! Arranged alphabetically by movie title—from Amazing Colossal Man to Zotz!—the entries provide many “then” and “now” photos, with directions to the locations.
Alexander Pantages was 13 when he arrived in the U.S. in the 1880s, after contracting malaria in Panama. He opened his first motion picture theater in 1902 and went on to build one of the largest and most important independently-owned theater chains in the country. At the height of the Pantages Theaters’ reach, he owned or operated 78 theaters across the U.S. and Canada. He amassed a fortune, yet he could not read or write English.
In 1929 he was convicted of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old dancer—a scandal that destroyed his empire and reduced him to a pariah. The day his grandest theater, the Pantages Hollywood, opened in 1930, he lay sick in a jailhouse infirmary. His conviction was overturned a year later after an appeal to the California State Supreme Court, but the question remains: how should history judge this theater pioneer, wealthy magnate and embodiment of the American Dream?
Japan’s Green Monsters: Environmental Commentary in Kaiju Cinema
Sean Rhoads and Brooke McCorkle
In 1954, a massive irradiated dinosaur emerged from Tokyo Bay and rained death and destruction on the Japanese capital. Since then Godzilla and other monsters, such as Mothra and Gamera, have gained cult status around the world.
This book provides a new interpretation of these monsters, or kaijū, and their respective movies. Analyzing Japanese history, society and film, the authors demonstrate various ways in which this monster cinema tackles environmental and ecological issues—from nuclear power and industrial pollution to biodiversity and climate change.
British literature often refers to pagan and classical themes through richly detailed landscapes that suggest more than a mere backdrop of physical features. The myth-inspired writings of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Algernon Blackwood, Aleister Crowley, Lord Dunsany and even Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows informed later British films and television dramas such as The Owl Service (1969-70), Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971), The Wicker Man (1973), Excalibur (1981) and Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975). The author analyzes the evocative language and esthetics of landscapes in literature, film, television and music, and how “psycho-geography” is used to explore the influence of the past on the present.
The Lone Ranger on Radio, Film and Television
The Lone Ranger has endured as an iconic figure in American popular culture, from his 1933 premier as a radio serial hero through a highly-rated television series (1949–1957) to a 2013 feature film. Created by script writer Fran Striker and radio station owner George W. Trendle, the character was meant to embody courage, fair play and honesty, and writers had to adhere to specific guidelines: “he never smokes … he uses precise speech … he never shoots to kill.” The popularity of the Ranger and his companion Tonto inspired later crime fighting duos like Batman and Robin, and The Green Hornet and Kato. This book examines the franchise in detail, with summaries and production details of the original radio episodes.
The Musical Artistry of Rap
Martin E. Connor
For years Rap artists have met with mixed reception—acclaimed by fans yet largely overlooked by scholars. Focusing on 135 tracks from 56 artists, this survey appraises the artistry of the genre with updates to the traditional methods and measures of musicology.
Rap synthesizes rhythmic vocals with complex beats, intonational systems, song structures, orchestration and instrumentalism. The author advances a rethinking of musical notation and challenges the conventional understanding of Rap through analysis of such artists as Eminem, Kanye West and Jean Grae.
Raqs sharqi, the Egyptian dance form also known as belly dance, has for generations captured imaginations around the globe. Yet its origins have been obscured by misinformation and conjecture, rooted in Orientalist attitudes about the Middle East—a widely accepted narrative suggests the dance was created in response to Western influences and desires. Drawing on an array of primary sources, the author traces the early development of raqs sharqi in the context of contemporary trends in Egyptian arts and entertainment. The dance is revealed to be a hybrid cultural expression, emerging with the formation of Egyptian national identity at the end of the 19th century, when Egypt was occupied by the British.
Dracula and Frankenstein’s Monster are horror cinema icons, and the actors most deeply associated with the two roles also shared a unique friendship. Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff starred in dozens of black-and-white horror films, and over the years managed to collaborate on and co-star in eight movies. Through dozens of interviews and extensive archival research, this greatly expanded new edition examines the Golden Age of Hollywood, the era in which both stars worked, recreates the shooting of Lugosi and Karloff’s mutual films, examines their odd and moving personal relationship and analyzes their ongoing legacies. Features include a fully detailed filmography of the eight Karloff and Lugosi films, full summaries of both men’s careers and more than 250 photographs, some in color.
Another Me: The Doppelganger in 21st Century Fiction, Television and Film
Heather Duerre Humann
A figure from ancient folklore, the doppelgänger—in fiction a character’s sinister look-alike—continues to reemerge in literature, television and film. The modern-day doppelganger (“double-goer” in German) is typically depicted in a traditional form adapted to reflect present-day social anxieties. Focusing on a broad range of narratives, the author explores 21st century representations in novels (Audrey Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry, José Saramago’s The Double), TV shows (Orphan Black, Battlestar Galactica, Ringer) and movies (The Island, The Prestige, Oblivion).
The January issue of Choice features four recommended McFarland titles!
Winston Churchill, Myth and Reality: What He Actually Did and Said
Richard M. Langworth
“Langworth fires a stunning barrage in the long-running battle over Churchill’s reputation…effectively demolishes many core myths…a required addition to any collection on Churchill…essential.”
The Lost Colony of Roanoke: New Perspectives
“Persuasively written, coherent, and in-depth…fresh and well thought out…a fascinating account…well-researched…recommended.”
Science Is Not What You Think: How It Has Changed, Why We Can’t Trust It, How It Can Be Fixed
Henry H. Bauer
For the Gay Stage: A Guide to 456 Plays, Aristophanes to Peter Gill
Drewey Wayne Gunn
“Comprehensive…recommended for all theater and gay studies collections.”
The 1950s television game show was a cultural touchstone, reflecting the zeitgeist of a flourishing modern nation. The author explores the iconography of the mid–20th century U.S. in the context of TV watching, game playing and prize winning. The scandals that marred the genre’s reputation are revisited, highlighting American’s propensity for both gullibility and winking cynicism.
New on our bookshelf today:
Quintessential Jack: The Art of Jack Nicholson on Screen
After several years of small roles and experimental screenwriting during his early career, Jack Nicholson got his big break in 1969 with Easy Rider. The next year Five Easy Pieces made him a star. Since then the 12-time Academy Award nominee has won Best Actor twice (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and As Good as It Gets).
This critical study examines each of Nicholson’s film roles, as well as his screenwriting and directorial efforts. Fascinating personal insights are provided through interviews with stars such as Mews Small, James Hong, Millie Perkins, Michael Margotta, Shirley Knight, Joe Turkel, Ed Nelson, Hazel Court, the Monkees, several Apollo astronauts, Hell’s Angel Sonny Barger, Peter Fonda, Bruce Dern, and many more.
New on our bookshelf today:
Encyclopedia of Television Shows: A Comprehensive Supplement, 2011–2016
This is a supplement to the author’s Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925–2010. It covers 1,612 series broadcast between January 1, 2011, and December 31, 2016. Major networks—ABC, CBS, the CW, Fox and NBC—are covered along with many cable channels, such as AMC, Disney, Nickelodeon, Bravo, Lifetime, Discovery, TNT, Comedy Central and History Channel. Alphabetical entries provide storylines, casts, networks and running dates. A performer index is included.
New on our bookshelf today:
The Great Sports Documentaries: 100+ Award Winning Films
Sports and competition have been film subjects since the dawn of the medium. Olympic sports documentaries have been around nearly as long as the games themselves; films about surfing, boxing, roller derby, motorcycle racing and bodybuilding were theatrical successes during the 1960s and 1970s.
The author surveys the history of the sports documentary subgenre, covering more than 100 award-winning films of 40+ different competitions, from traditional team sports to dogsled racing to ballroom dancing.
Now available in softcover:
Western Film Series of the Sound Era
Michael R. Pitts
The western genre touched on ideals of honor, conquest, and freedom of spirit, and its stories packed cinemas of the early sound era. This volume covers 30 western film series produced from the mid 1930s to the early 1950s. Included are such long-running series as Hopalong Cassidy, The Durango Kid and The Three Mesquiteers as well as those that had moderate or brief runs like The Singing Cowgirl and The Texas Rangers. Major genre stars like John Wayne, Ken Maynard, Tim McCoy, Buck Jones and Johnny Mack Brown headlined the popular Saturday matinee fare. The book contains a plot synopsis and analysis of each series’ place in cinema history, many photographs and illustrations and a detailed filmography.
Laird Cregar: A Hollywood Tragedy
Gregory William Mank
“Based on decades of research, relying mainly on primary sources (as much as possible, given that his subject died more than 70 years ago) and archival material, the author brings Cregar back to vivid life in this culmination of an “almost lifelong” fascination with the actor… Many showbiz biographies reduce the lives of stars to formula; this one gives rich life to an unknown Hollywood story.”—Booklist (starred review)
New on our bookshelf today:
Most film buffs know that Citizen Kane was based on the life of publisher William Randolph Hearst. But few are aware that key characters in films like Double Indemnity, Cool Hand Luke, Jaws, Rain Man, A Few Good Men and Zero Dark Thirty were inspired by actual persons. This survey of à clef characters covers a selection of fictionalized personalities, beginning with the Silent Era. The landmark lawsuit surrounding Rasputin and the Empress (1932) introduced disclaimers in film credits, assuring audiences that characters were not based on real people—even when they were. Entries cover screen incarnations of Wyatt Earp, Al Capone, Bing Crosby, Amelia Earhart, Buster Keaton, Howard Hughes, Janis Joplin and Richard Nixon, along with the inspirations behind perennial favorites like Charlie Chan and Indiana Jones.
New on our bookshelf today:
In the 21st century, reality television and the Internet have fed public interest in ghosts, UFOs, cryptozoology and other unusual phenomena. By 2010, roughly 2000 amateur research and investigation groups formed in the U.S.—ghost hunters, Bigfoot chasers and UFO researchers, using an array of (supposedly) scientific equipment and methods to prove the existence of the paranormal.
American culture’s honorific regard for science, coupled with the public’s unfamiliarity with scientific methods, created a niche for self-styled paranormal experts to achieve national renown without scientific training or credentials. The author provides a comprehensive examination of the ideas, missions and methods promoted by these passionate amateurs.
New on our bookshelf today:
The New Peplum: Essays on Sword and Sandal Films and Television Programs Since the 1990s
Edited by Nicholas Diak
Foreword by David R. Coon; Afterword by Steven L. Sears
Peplum or “sword-and-sandal” films—an Italian genre of the late 1950s through the 1960s—featured ancient Greek, Roman and Biblical stories with gladiators, mythological monsters and legendary quests. The new wave of historic epics, known as neo-pepla, is distinctly different, embracing new technologies and storytelling techniques to create an immersive experience unattainable in the earlier films.
This collection of new essays explores the neo-peplum phenomenon through a range of topics, including comic book adaptations like Hercules, the expansion of genre boundaries in Jupiter Ascending and John Carter, depictions of Romans and slaves in Spartacus, and The Eagle and Centurion as metaphors for America’s involvement in the Iraq War.
New on our bookshelf today:
Goon: Memoir of a Minor League Hockey Enforcer, 2d ed.
Doug Smith with Adam Frattasio
Directionless yet driven by a fervent desire to make something of himself, Doug “The Thug” Smith took his only marketable job skill—amateur boxing—and followed an unlikely career path to become a hockey enforcer, a.k.a. “goon.” Entrusted with aggressively protecting his teammates from tough guys on the opposing team, he punched, elbowed and cross-checked his way up the ranks of minor league hockey to win a championship ring and the respect of his community. His entertaining underdog story is the subject of the cult-classic motion picture Goon (2011) and its sequel Goon: Last of the Enforcers (2017).
New on our bookshelf today:
There are 49 Muslim-majority countries in the world and Islam is the world’s second largest religion. Yet many in the West are misinformed about Islam and Muslim worldviews. Issues related to gender norms are especially subject to misconceptions.
This filmography analyzes gender issues in 56 feature films from Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Turkey, with a focus on religious, legal and patriarchal legitimization of practices such as female genital mutilation, child marriage, virginity testing, public sexual harassment and molestation, and honor killings.