In contemporary culture, the stereotypical trappings of “redneckism” have been appropriated
for everything from movies like Smokey and the Bandit to comedy acts like Larry the
Cable Guy. Even a recent president, George W. Bush, shunned his patrician pedigree in favor
of cowboy “authenticity” to appeal to voters. Whether identified with hard work and patriotism
or with narrow-minded bigotry, the Redneck and its variants have become firmly
established in American narrative consciousness.
This provocative book traces the emergence of the faux-Redneck within the context of
literary and cultural studies. Examining the icon’s foundations in James Fenimore Cooper’s
Natty Bumppo—“an ideal white man, free of the boundaries of civilization”—and the degraded
rural poor of Erskine Caldwell’s Tobacco Road, Matthew Ferrence shows how Redneck
stereotypes were further extended in Deliverance, both the novel and the film, and in
a popular cycle of movies starring Burt Reynolds in the 1970s and ’80s, among other manifestations.
As a contemporary cultural figure, the author argues, the Redneck represents
no one in particular but offers a model of behavior and ideals for many. Most important,
it has become a tool—reductive, confining, and (sometimes, almost) liberating—by which
elite forces gather and maintain social and economic power. Those defying its boundaries,
as the Dixie Chicks did when they criticized President Bush and the Iraq invasion, have
done so at their own peril. Ferrence contends that a refocus of attention to the complex
realities depicted in the writings of such authors as Silas House, Fred Chappell, Janisse Ray,
and Trudier Harris can help dislodge persistent stereotypes and encourage more nuanced
understandings of regional identity.
In a cultural moment when so-called Reality Television has turned again toward popular
images of rural Americans (as in, for example, Duck Dynasty and Moonshiners), All-
American Redneck reveals the way in which such images have long been manipulated for
particular social goals, almost always as a means to solidify the position of the powerful at
the expense of the regional.
Matthew J. Ferrence is an assistant professor of English at Allegheny College.
If you were looking for a philosopher likely to appeal to Americans, Friedrich Nietzsche would be far from your first choice. After all, in his blazing career, Nietzsche took aim at nearly all the foundations of modern American life: Christian morality, the Enlightenment faith in reason, and the idea of human equality. Despite that, for more than a century Nietzsche has been a hugely popular—and surprisingly influential—figure in American thought and culture.
In American Nietzsche, Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen delves deeply into Nietzsche's philosophy, and America’s reception of it, to tell the story of his curious appeal. Beginning her account with Ralph Waldo Emerson, whom the seventeen-year-old Nietzsche read fervently, she shows how Nietzsche’s ideas first burst on American shores at the turn of the twentieth century, and how they continued alternately to invigorate and to shock Americans for the century to come. She also delineates the broader intellectual and cultural contexts within which a wide array of commentators—academic and armchair philosophers, theologians and atheists, romantic poets and hard-nosed empiricists, and political ideologues and apostates from the Left and the Right—drew insight and inspiration from Nietzsche’s claims for the death of God, his challenge to universal truth, and his insistence on the interpretive nature of all human thought and beliefs. At the same time, she explores how his image as an iconoclastic immoralist was put to work in American popular culture, making Nietzsche an unlikely posthumous celebrity capable of inspiring both teenagers and scholars alike.
A penetrating examination of a powerful but little-explored undercurrent of twentieth-century American thought and culture, American Nietzsche dramatically recasts our understanding of American intellectual life—and puts Nietzsche squarely at its heart.
Icon and Devotion offers the first extensive presentation in English of the making and meaning of Russian icons. The craft of icon-making is set into the context of forms of worship that emerged in the Russian Orthodox Church in the mid-seventeenth century. Oleg Tarasov shows how icons have held a special place in Russian consciousness because they represented idealized images of Holy Russia. He also looks closely at how and why icons were made. Wonder-working saints and the leaders of such religious schisms as the Old Believers appear in these pages, which are illustrated with miniature paintings, lithographs and engravings never before published in the English-speaking world.
By tracing the artistic vocabulary, techniques and working methods of icon painters, Tarasov shows how icons have been integral to the history of Russian art, influenced by folk and mainstream currents alike. As well as articulating the specifically Russian piety they invoke, he analyzes the significance of icons in the cultural life of modern Russia in the context of popular prints and poster design.
Icon Of Spring
Sonya Jason University of Pittsburgh Press, 1993 Library of Congress F159.J43J36 1993 | Dewey Decimal 974.885
A realistic but fond memoir of a girlhood lived in a coal camp, or “patch” in southwestern Pennsylvania during the Great Depression of the 1930s, Icon of Spring is also a coming-of-age story. It begins in 1932 when the narrator, the child of Carpatho-Rusyn immigrant parents, is seven years old. Her father is a miner, and work is scarce as the grip of the depression tightens. The jars of canned food on the storeroom shelf are dwindling, and the family fears eviction from their small company-owned house.
Icon of Spring recounts her childhood during the next seven years, as she grows to adolescence in a world that is protective within her family but shares the violence of the coal region. She is witness to accidental death in the mines, the murder of a coal and iron policeman, the muted struggle to unionize, and the itinerant beggars who appear at the back door.
Yet this is far from a grim book, for we see life in the patch through the eyes of the child. Warmed by the closeness she feels toward her parents, especially her mother, and her nine brothers and sisters, she knows the joy of one sister’s wedding and raucous reception, the mysterious Easter ritual of the Eastern Orthodox Liturgy, the fun of attending a medicine show, and the almost incandescent hope placed in the new president, Franklin D. Roosevelt. Her life is peopled by traveling peddlers, the priest of her church, a union organizer, and the town bachelors: Big John, Peg Leg Pete, and Shorty Steve.
Icon of Spring evokes life in a depression coal patch from a female perspective. A splendid memoir of childhood told with accuracy and warmth which is also rich in social history, it will appeal to general readers as well as students.
Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Clay) has always engendered an emotional reaction from the public. From his appearance as an Olympic champion to his iconic status as a national hero, his carefully constructed image and controversial persona has always been intensely scrutinized. In Muhammad Ali, Michael Ezra considers the boxer who calls himself “The Greatest” from a new perspective. He writes about Ali’s pre-championship bouts, the management of his career and his current legacy, exploring the promotional aspects of Ali and how they were wrapped up in political, economic, and cultural “ownership.”
Ezra’s incisive study examines the relationships between Ali’s cultural appeal and its commercial manifestations. Citing examples of the boxer’s relationship to the Vietnam War and the Nation of Islam—which serve as barometers of his “public moral authority”—Muhammad Ali analyzes the difficulties of creating and maintaining these cultural images, as well as the impact these themes have on Ali’s meaning to the public.
Little is known about Nefertiti, the Egyptian queen whose name means “a beautiful woman has come.” She was the wife of Akhenaten, the pharaoh who ushered in the dramatic Amarna Age, and she bore him at least six children. She played a prominent role in political and religious affairs, but after Akhenaten’s death she apparently vanished and was soon forgotten.
Yet Nefertiti remains one of the most famous and enigmatic women who ever lived. Her instantly recognizable face adorns a variety of modern artifacts, from expensive jewelry to cheap postcards, t-shirts, and bags, all over the world. She has appeared on page, stage, screen, and opera. In Britain, one woman has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on plastic surgery in hope of resembling the long-dead royal. This enduring obsession is the result of just one object: the lovely and mysterious Nefertiti bust, created by the sculptor Thutmose and housed in Berlin’s Neues Museum since before World War II.
In Nefertiti’s Face, Egyptologist Joyce Tyldesley tells the story of the bust, from its origins in a busy workshop of the late Bronze Age to its rediscovery and controversial removal to Europe in 1912 and its present status as one of the world’s most treasured artifacts. This wide-ranging history takes us from the temples and tombs of ancient Egypt to wartime Berlin and engages the latest in Pharaonic scholarship. Tyldesley sheds light on both Nefertiti’s life and her improbable afterlife, in which she became famous simply for being famous.
Anaïs Nin, the diarist, novelist, and provocateur, occupied a singular space in twentieth-century culture, not only as a literary figure and voice of female sexual liberation but as a celebrity and symbol of shifting social mores in postwar America. Before Madonna and her many imitators, there was Nin; yet, until now, there has been no major study of Nin as a celebrity figure.
In Writing an Icon, Anita Jarczok reveals how Nin carefully crafted her literary and public personae, which she rewrote and restyled to suit her needs and desires. When the first volume of her diary was published in 1966, Nin became a celebrity, notorious beyond the artistic and literary circles in which she previously had operated. Jarczok examines the ways in which the American media appropriated and deconstructed Nin and analyzes the influence of Nin’s guiding hand in their construction of her public persona.
The key to understanding Nin’s celebrity in its shifting forms, Jarczok contends, is the Diary itself, the principal vehicle through which her image has been mediated. Combining the perspectives of narrative and cultural studies, Jarczok traces the trajectory of Nin’s celebrity, the reception of her writings. The result is an innovative investigation of the dynamic relationships of Nin’s writing, identity, public image, and consumer culture.
In the first decades of the twentieth century, Broadway teemed with showgirls, but only the Ziegfeld Girl has survived in American popular culture—as a figure of legend, nostalgia, and camp. Featured in Florenz Ziegfeld Jr.’s renowned revues, which ran on Broadway from 1907 to 1931, the Ziegfeld Girl has appeared in her trademark feather headdresses, parading and posing, occasionally singing and dancing, in numerous musicals and musical films paying direct or indirect homage to the intrepid producer and his glorious Girl. Linda Mizejewski analyzes the Ziegfeld Girl as a cultural icon and argues that during a time when American national identity was in flux, Ziegfeld Girls were both products and representations of a white, upscale, heterosexual national ideal. Mizejewski traces the Ziegfeld Girl’s connections to turn-of-the-century celebrity culture, black Broadway, the fashion industry, and the changing sexual and gender identities evident in mainstream entertainment during the Ziegfeld years. In addition, she emphasizes how crises of immigration and integration made the identity and whiteness of the American Girl an urgent issue on Broadway’s revue stages during that era. Although her focus is on the showgirl as a “type,” the analysis is intermingled with discussions of figures like Anna Held, Fanny Brice, and Bessie McCoy, the Yama Yama girl, as well as Ziegfeld himself. Finally, Mizejewski discusses the classic American films that have most vividly kept this showgirl alive in both popular and camp culture, including The Great Ziegfeld, Ziegfeld Girl, and the Busby Berkeley musicals that cloned Ziegfeld’s showgirls for decades. Ziegfeld Girl will appeal to scholars and students in American studies, popular culture, theater and performance studies, film history, gender studies, gay and lesbian studies, and social history.