The history of the study of popular culture in American academia since its (re)introduction in 1967 is filled with misunderstanding and opposition. From the first, proponents of the study of this major portion of American culture made clear that they were interested in making popular culture a supplement to the usual courses in such fields as literature, sociology, history, philosophy, and the other humanities and social sciences; nobody proposed that study of popular culture replace the other disciplines, but many suggested that it was time to reexamine the accepted courses and see if they were still viable. Opposition to the status quo always causes anxiety and opposition, but when the issues are clarified, often opposition and anxiety melt away, as they now are doing.
Anxiety and opposition were generated on another level when people in academic and curricular power felt that voices were being raised that questioned their credentials and control. They flailed out with every argument at their command, generally thinking only of their self interest and not that of the students and the future of academic education. Generally this wall of opposition has also been breached.
The Popular Culture Association and its many friends and backers in academia, in the United States and abroad, has demonstrated that the study of our everyday and dominant culure should be taken seriously, understandingly and analytically, just as all other aspects of culture should be. Taken that way the study can be useful in developing better educated and responsible citizens from the cradle to the grave. The humanities and social sciences are too important for any portion—especially the majority portion—to be ignored or downplayed. The study of popular culture constitutes a significant and important element, one that can be ignored only at peril.
Alabamians have always been a singing people. The settlers who moved into the various sections of the state brought with them songs which reflected their national origins and geographical backgrounds, and as they spread into the hills and over the lowlands they created new songs out of the conditions under which they lived. Also, they absorbed songs from outside sources whenever these pieces could be adapted to their sentiments and ways of life. Thus, by a process of memory, composition and recreation they developed a rich body of folk songs. The following collection a part of the effort to discover and preserve these songs.
The humanities are the strongest dynamic that runs from the past into the future. Throughout history, except for the past one hundred fifty years, the strongest element in the humanities has been the culture of the folk. Now it is the everyday culture of a democratic society—popular culture, a key to people’s understanding themselves and their society. These sixteen essays by leading popular culture scholars demonstrate how elements in our everyday life flourished in the past, came to flower today, and will continue to shape us in the future.
The Cultures of Celebrations
Edited by Ray B. Browne and Michael T. Marsden University of Wisconsin Press, 1994 Library of Congress GT3930.C85 1994 | Dewey Decimal 394.26
Popular entertainments are windows into the attitudes and values of the people who participate in them. They both reflect and affect society as they celebrate an aspect of life. The fifteen essays in this collection demonstrate various aspects of celebrations of cultures and the importance they have in those cultures.
Topics include: feminine processions and masculine parades; political activism and quietism in Shi’a rituals; civic socializing in Puritan New England; the circus and American culture; the Wild West shows; beauty pageants; theme parks; Bourbon Street, New Orleans; and Stonehenge.
The world of the defective detective was a strange one. Continuing the motif of the mythological hero, this unique detective type emerged in the 1930s in a very imperfect and threatened society. The stories reprinted in this volume reveal just how widely the genre ranged during the Depression.
Readers of detective stories are turning more toward historical crime fiction to learn both what everyday life was like in past societies and how society coped with those who broke the laws and restrictions of the times. The crime fiction treated here ranges from ancient Egypt through classical Greece and Rome; from medieval and renaissance China and Europe through nineteenth-century England and America.
Topics include: Ellis Peter’s Brother Cadfael; Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose; Susanna Gregory’s Doctor Matthew Bartholomew; Peter Heck’s Mark Twain as detective; Anne Perry and her Victorian-era world; Caleb Carr’s works; and Elizabeth Peter’s Egyptologist-adventurer tales.
This volume presents archeological studies in conjunction with cultural anthropological studies as a means to enhance popular culture studies. Scholar Malcolm K. Shuman points out that the study of archeology must be careful to chart the total human content of an artifact, because archeology “is a profoundly human (and humanizing) endeavor that cannot be divorced from the matrix of human life.” The other ten essays cover aspects of archeology and cultural anthropology, and the authors are meticulous in studying their subject in context.
Global Village: Dead Or Alive?
Edited by Ray B. Browne and Marshall W. Fishwick University of Wisconsin Press, 1999 Library of Congress HN17.5.G57 1999 | Dewey Decimal 302.234
In a world that is witnessing the explosive forces of individualism, tribalism, cultism, religion, nationalism, and regionalism, can the “global village” concept as envisioned by Marshall McLuhan have any meaning or hope for fruition? Do the media merely electronically override the stronger forces of basic human expression without in any way changing them? The Global Village offers fifteen essays by leading scholars and thinkers who weigh the pros and cons and come up with individual conclusions as well as a consensus. Included are “Turning McLuhan on His Head” by James E. Grunig, “The Vanishing Global Village” by Ray B. Browne, and “Global Village—Writ Small” by Marshall Fishwick. This book speaks to concerns in journalism, media, popular culture, and communications.
The rituals of religion these days as practiced in the United States on television, have become big theatre, a big show. Televangelism is big business, amounting to billions of dollars each year. Televangelists discussed are Billy Graham, Jimmy Swaggert, Jerry Falwell, Jim and Tammy Bakker, Terry Cole-Whittaker, Marilyn Hickey, Danuto Rylko Soderman, and Beverly LaHaye.
The Gothic World of Anne Rice
Edited by Gary Hoppenstand and Ray B. Browne University of Wisconsin Press, 1996 Library of Congress PS3568.I265Z68 1996 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
This anthology argues for the serious study of the literary oeuvre of Anne Rice, a major figure in today’s popular literature. The essays assert that Rice expands the conventions of the horror genre’s formula to examine important social issues. Like a handful of authors working in this genre, Rice manipulates its otherwise predictable narrative structures so that a larger, more interesting cultural mythology can be developed. Rice searches for philosophical truth, examining themes of good and evil, the influence on people and society of both nature and nurture, and the conflict and dependence of humanism and science.
Stephen King’s popularity lies in his ability to reinterpret the standard Gothic tale in new and exciting ways. Through his eyes, the conventional becomes unconventional and wonderful. King thus creates his own Gothic world and then interprets it for us. This book analyzes King’s interpretations and his mastery of popular literature. The essays discuss adolescent revolt, the artist as survivor, the vampire in popular literature, and much more.
The Hero in Transition
Ray B. Browne University of Wisconsin Press, 1983 Library of Congress E169.1.H365 1983 | Dewey Decimal 973
An investigation of society’s heroes during any time period will reveal the personnel deemed worthy of being emulated at that particular time by that particular society. There will be many old and time-tested figures, sometimes with new faces and new profiles; there will also be a mix of new faces. Thus the hero—like history itself—is constantly in transition, and both the hero and the transition are fundamental to the study of a culture. These essays turn the pantheon of heroes around before our eyes and reveal the many complicated aspects of hero worship.
Mystery fiction, although essentially the same in all its national varieties, nevertheless comes in several types and several wrappings.
The present study of American, Australian, and Canadian detective fiction concerns literature which speaks in the ways of heroes and humanities about the human condition. All authors studied here, to one degree or another, demonstrate their concern with human society, some more strongly than others, but all with their eyes on the human situation and human existence. At times these studies lean toward the tragic in their outlook and development. In all instances they center on the humanistic.
Heroines of Popular Culture
Edited by Ray B. Browne University of Wisconsin Press, 1987 Library of Congress PN56.5.W64H47 1987 | Dewey Decimal 809.93352042
From life and literature come the heroines of this volume. The essays demonstrate that women can fit the role of hero as defined by Joseph Campbell: “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder, fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won, the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.” Contributors to this volume cover a wide range of heroic women.
The essays in this book trace many of the multitudinous forces at work on the Constitution and in the popular culture and show how the forces control and benefit each other. The subject is of profound importance and, beginning with these essays, needs to be studied at great length for the benefit of us all.
Abraham Lincoln, both in his time and in ours, has always stood much taller than life. Well over a century after his assassination, Americans remain fascinated with the Civil War: what were the real issues over which it was fought, who were the actual people involved, and what the everyday life of those people was like. Lincoln, as the epitome of both the good and the bad of that war, continues to loom as the most important single object of our interest.
The people’s lore about Lincoln has through the years continued to grow and to assume ever greater importance both for what it tells about the man and the age in which he lived and for its amusement value.
Statistics indicate that more than half the population of America is illiterate or subliterate in the conventional sense, but very literate in other media such as television, sports, and leisure time activities. But statistics can lie or tell only half a fact. Since the languages of literacy are constantly expanding and developing, it is time that American educators, and the public in general, reexamine their definitions of literacy and the media in which we need to be literate. Therefore, educators must redefine literacy if they are to be realistic about its sources, uses, and values. The need is vital to a developing world.
The history of the study of popular culture in American academic since its (re)introduction in 1967 is filled with misunderstanding and opposition. From the first, proponents of the study of this major portion of american culture made clear that they were interested in making popular culture a supplement to the usual courses in such fields as literature, sociology, history, philosophy, and the other humanities and social sciences; nobody proposed that study of popular culture replace the other disciplines, but many suggested that it was time to reexamine the accepted courses and see if they were still viable. Opposition to the status quo always causes anxiety and oppostion, but when the issues are clarified, often oppoosition and anxiety melt away, as they are now doing.
This second collection of defective detective stories features some of the best of the period, including Russell Gray’s gimpy hero Ben Bryn, Edith and Ejler Jacobson’s hemophiliac gum-shoe Nat Perry, John Kobler’s glaucomatous troubleshooter Peter Quest, and Leon Byrne’s deaf detective Dan Holden.
In Murder on the Reservation, Ray B. Browne surveys the work of several of the best-known writers of crime fiction involving Indian characters and references virtually every book that qualifies as an Indian-related mystery. Browne believes that within the genre of crime fiction all people are equal, and the increasing role of Indian characters in criminal fiction proves what an important role this genre plays as a powerful democratizing force in American society. He endeavors to both analyze and evaluate the individual work of the authors, and at the same time, provide a commentary on the various attitudes towards race relations in the United States that each author presents. Some Indian fiction is intended to right the wrongs the authors feel have been leveled against Indians. Other authors use Indian lore and Indian locales as exotic elements and locations for the entertaining and commercially successful stories they want to write. Browne’s analysis includes authors and works of all backgrounds, with mysteries of first-class murder both on and off the reservation.
This book demonstrates the importance of the study of fetishes and fetishism in the study of popular culture. Some of the essays cover rather "conventional" manifestations in the world today; others demonstrate the fetishistic qualities of some unusual items. But all illustrate without any doubt that, like the icon, the ritual, and many other items in society, fetishes, fetishism and fetishists must be studied and understood before we can begin to understand the complexity of present-day society.
The essays in this collection present communities beset by unexpected social and physical events. Some outline immediate responses that soon pass and some that will not go away. Who would have foreseen that Elvis would be a phenomenon apparently as lasting as the faces on Mount Rushmore? Cultural history will not allow us to forget the H. G. Wells account of the Martian attack, nor can we ever forget the continued terror of the Chernobyl explosion. Ordinary Reactions to Extraordinary Events catalogues on the Geiger counter of human emotions societal reactions to events both earthshaking and culture-disturbing.
The Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association found a fixed canon and revolutionized the study of the humanities and social sciences in the United States and around the world by making that canon fluid. The full ramifications of this revolt against traditional academia not finished nor fully understood. This is a record of the goals and accomplishments of the pioneers in this field. The essays recall the barriers that the first pop culture scholars faced and tracks their achievements.
Popular Abstracts is a reference tool providing access to information appearing in past issues of three journals published by the Bowling Green Popular Press. Abstracts are included for each article appearing in the first ten volumes of The Journal of Popular Culture (1967–1977), the first five volumes of The Journal of Popular Film (1972–1977), and the first four volumes of Popular Music and Society (1971–1975).
The essays in this collection, written by some of the leading scholars in Popular Culture Studies, turn the page on the new millennium to see what are the directions of approach and the opportunities to be gained in recognition of the compelling need for studies in everyday cultures.
From Hank Williams to hip hop, Aunt Jemima to the Energizer Bunny, scrap-booking to NASCAR racing, Profiles of Popular Culture cuts a generous swath across what is perhaps the fastest growing discipline of the past several decades. Edited by a pioneer in the field, this volume invites readers to reflect on a diverse sampling of modern myths, icons, archetypes, rituals, and pastimes. Adopting an inclusive approach, editor Ray B. Browne has mined both scholarly and mainstream media to bring together penetrating essays on fads and fashions, sports fandom, the shaping of body image, aesthetic surgery, the marketing of food, vacationing and sightseeing, toys and games, genre fiction, post-9/11 entertainment, and much more. Like Jack Nachbar and Kevin Lause's Popular Culture: An Introductory Text, this book opens critical doors into the study of popular culture-and does so within a fresh context that includes points of reference both established and new.
The twenty essays in this effort to bring new vitality to the humanities range through fields familiar in life but unfamiliar in the humanities canon. They include leisure, folk cultures, material culture, pornography, comics, animal rights, Black studies, traveling, and, of course, the bugbear of academics, television.
These essays, written by experts in their fields, demonstrate how necessary it is in the study of the humanities and social sciences to realize the interdependency of the fields and how rich the resulting study can be.