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Thirsty for a nerdy discussion of science, technology, ethics, and popular fiction? Dr. Jennifer Terrell and Iris Bull (Ph.D. student) talk each week about their ongoing college course designed and organized around these topics. We start by asking, “What is the role of popular culture texts in the construction of sociotechnical ethics?” We then spend 15 weeks answering that question together using frameworks unique to the field of science and technology studies, conceived of by historians, s ...
 
What does ‘2001: a Space Odyssey’ have to do with Odysseus? How does Brad Pitt's Achilles in 'Troy' match up to Homer's original hero? And is Arnold Schwarzenegger the new Heracles? This collection of video animations and audio discussions examines how the heroes of Greek mythology have been represented in popular culture, from ancient times to the modern day. Odysseus is the archetypal questing hero - a blank canvas on which every era has projected its own values. Heracles is the original s ...
 
What does ‘2001: a Space Odyssey’ have to do with Odysseus? How does Brad Pitt's Achilles in 'Troy' match up to Homer's original hero? And is Arnold Schwarzenegger the new Heracles? This collection of video animations and audio discussions examines how the heroes of Greek mythology have been represented in popular culture, from ancient times to the modern day. Odysseus is the archetypal questing hero - a blank canvas on which every era has projected its own values. Heracles is the original s ...
 
NEON is a different way of sharing historical knowledge. NEON takes a pop culture phenomenon and turns it on its head by revealing lesser known facts, real-life events and history behind your favourite Netflix shows, movies or video games.From how the A-Team took inspiration from Vietnamese history and resistance leaders, to the Aryan purity and Harem breeding programs behind the Handmaid’s Tale. Even some of the most successful video games – Assassins Creed, God of War, and Fortnite – are s ...
 
The aim of this series is to offer insights into key moments in the story of Irish popular culture since the publication of Thomas Moore's Irish Melodies in the early nineteenth century. If the story of transnational Irish popular culture begins with Thomas Moore in the early nineteenth century, it wasn't until the end of the 1800s that writers and intellectuals began to theorize the impact of mass cultural production on the Irish psyche during the industrial century. In 1892 Douglas Hyde, s ...
 
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show series
 
Hello, world! This is the Global Media & Communication podcast series. In this inaugural episode, our host Aswin Punathambekar speaks with Samhita Sunya, the author of the book Sirens of Modernity: World Cinema via Bombay (U California Press, 2022). In this episode you’ll hear about: Dr. Sunya’s intellectual trajectory in studying South Asian cinem…
 
We could do a whole season on Vietnam war films, but in this episode we chose three films that highlight the Cold War’s omnipresence in daily life. You wouldn’t associate any of these films with how Vietnam figured into the Cold War dynamic because they are about the homefront. The Deer Hunter (1978), Coming Home (1978), and Da Five Bloods (2020) a…
 
Manga historian Ryan Holmberg introduces the influential alternative manga artist Murasaki Yamada (1948-2009) to English readers through a scholarly translation of Talk to My Back (1981-1984), Yamada’s feminist examination of the fraying of Japan's suburban middle-class dreams. The manga is paired with an extensive essay by Dr. Holmberg, in which h…
 
Together, bestselling author Julia Scheeres and award-winning journalist Allison Gilbert have written Listen, World!: How the Intrepid Elsie Robinson Became America's Most-Read Woman (Seal Press, 2022), the first biography of Elsie Robinson, the most influential newspaper columnist you've never heard of. At thirty-five, Elsie Robinson feared she'd …
 
1980 was a turning point in American history. When the year began, it was still very much the 1970s, with Jimmy Carter in the White House, a sluggish economy marked by high inflation, and the disco still riding the airwaves. When it ended, Ronald Reagan won the presidency in a landslide, inaugurating a rightward turn in American politics and cultur…
 
When did "parenting" become a verb? Why is it so hard to parent, and so rife with the possibility of failure? Sitcom families of the past--the Cleavers, the Bradys, the Conners--didn't seem to lose any sleep about their parenting methods. Today, parents are likely to be up late, doomscrolling on parenting websites. In Long Days, Short Years: A Cult…
 
Children and horror are often thought to be an incompatible meeting of audience and genre, beset by concerns that children will be corrupted or harmed through exposure to horror media. Nowhere is this tension more clear than in horror films for adults, where the demonic child villain is one of the genre's most enduring tropes. However, horror for c…
 
Today I talked to Jamie Fahey about his book Futsal: The Indoor Game That Is Revolutionizing World Soccer (Melville House, 2021). Some 60 million people player futsal worldwide, as this five-a-side version of football (soccer) is both a fast-moving, highly-entertaining sport in its own right as well as a breeding ground for great footballers on the…
 
Last episode we discussed films about how a nuclear war would start, particularly the insane logic of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). In this episode we explore how American, British, and Australian filmmakers imagined the unimaginable - Armageddon and the literal and figurative fallout. We look at On the Beach (1959), The Day After (1983), and…
 
Goddess characters are revered as feminist heroes in the popular media of many cultures. However, these goddess characters often prove to be less promising and more regressive than most people initially perceive. Goddesses in film, television, and fiction project worldviews and messages that reflect mostly patriarchal culture (including essentializ…
 
What story begins in a bedroom in suburban New Jersey in the early '60s, unfolds on some of the country's largest stages, and then ranges across the globe, demonstrating over and over again how Rock and Roll has the power to change the world for the better? This story. The first true heartbeat of Unrequited Infatuations: A Memoir (Hachette Books, 2…
 
Any song as old and as familiar as “My Old Kentucky Home” is bound to have accrued many different meanings and an interesting history. Emily Bingham’s book, My Old Kentucky Home: The Astonishing Life and Reckoning of an Iconic American Song (Knopf, 2022) delivers on the promise of its title. In this book Bingham uses the reception of “My Old Kentuc…
 
Across North America, native peoples and colonists alike played a variety of kicking games long before soccer's emergence in the late 1800s. Brian D. Bunk examines the development and social impact of these sports through the rise of professional soccer after World War I. As he shows, the various games called football gave women an outlet as athlet…
 
Buy Black: How Black Women Transformed US Pop Culture (U Illinois Press, 2022) examines the role American Black women play in Black consumption in the US and worldwide, with a focus on their pivotal role in packaging Black feminine identity since the 1960s. Through an exploration of the dolls, princesses, and rags-to-riches stories that represent B…
 
In Nocturnal Admissions: Behind the Scenes at Tunnel, Limelight, Avalon, and Other Legendary Nightclubs (Santa Monica Press, 2022), nightclub director Steve Adelman reflects on his years working in some of the world's most popular nightclubs. In his memoir, Adelman reflects on his work in in New York City in the nightclub heyday of the late 1980s a…
 
In Earworm and Event: Music, Daydreams, and Other Imaginary Refrains (Duke UP, 2022) Eldritch Priest questions the nature of the imagination in contemporary culture through the phenomenon of the earworm: those reveries that hijack our attention, the shivers that run down our spines, and the songs that stick in our heads. Through a series of meditat…
 
The world lived under the shadow of the acronym MAD for forty years. Mutually Assured Destruction was no laughing matter, but Stanley Kubrick thought dark comedy was the only way to approach a topic as ridiculous as MAD. In this episode we compare and contrast Dr. Strangelove (1964) with Failsafe, a serious film about the same subject that came out…
 
For two decades, Rockstar Games have been making games that interrogate and represent the idea of America, past and present. Commercially successful, fan-beloved, and a frequent source of media attention, Rockstar’s franchises are positioned as not only game-changing, ground-breaking interventions in the games industry, but also as critical, cultur…
 
Remembering Enslavement: Reassembling the Southern Plantation Museum (U Georgia Press, 2022) explores plantation museums as sites for contesting and reforming public interpretations of slavery in the American South. Emerging out of a three-year National Science Foundation grant (2014-17), the book turns a critical eye toward the growing inclusion o…
 
Why is reality TV important? In True Story: What Reality TV Says About Us (FSG, 2022), Danielle J. Lindemann, an Associate Professor of Sociology at Lehigh University, uses a sociological lens to examine the meaning and role of reality TV in contemporary society. In doing so, the analysis demonstrates how reality TV reinforces often narrow and cons…
 
It was only two decades ago, but, for the women of country music, 1999 seems like an entirely different universe. With Shania Twain, country's biggest award winner and star, and The Chicks topping every chart, country music was a woman's world: specifically, country radio and Nashville's Music Row. Cut to 2021, when women are only played on country…
 
Can you imagine living in a society that is ostensibly a democracy but secret forces are working behind the scenes to manipulate events? What if our intelligence agencies run amok with no oversight? What if the president is a criminal and would do anything to stay in power? These sound like current events, but they were major preoccupations during …
 
Davida Breier talks about her debut novel Sinkhole (University of New Orleans Press, 2022). Humidity, lovebugs, and murder. Lies from the past and a dangerous present collide when, after fifteen years in exile, Michelle Miller returns to her tiny hometown of Lorida, Florida. With her mother in the hospital, she's forced to reckon with the broken re…
 
Liz Bucar is the Director of Sacred Writes, Professor of Religion, and Dean’s Leadership Fellow at Northeastern University. Bucar is an expert in comparative religious ethics who has published on topics ranging from gender reassignment surgery to the global politics of modest clothing. Bucar’s current book, Stealing My Religion: Not Just Any Cultur…
 
The tomato gets no respect. Never has. Stored in the dustbin of history for centuries, accused of being vile and poisonous, appropriated as wartime propaganda, subjected to being picked hard-green and gassed, even used as a projectile, the poor tomato is the Rodney Dangerfield of foods. Yet, the tomato is the most popular vegetable in America (and,…
 
The national anthem of the United States is familiar around the world from Olympic medal ceremonies and American patriotic celebrations. Like anything that is over 200 years old, the meaning of The Star-Spangled Banner has changed over time and the song has been the focus of controversy at different times in its history. What many people think they…
 
In Attack of the Monster Musical: A Cultural History of Little Shop of Horrors (Bloomsbury, 2022), Adam Abraham chronicles the history of this hit musical. Starting with the story of Roger Corman's 1960s movie that was shot in two days with a budget of $30,000, and largely forgotten, Abraham details how two decades later Little Shop of Horrors open…
 
Combining archival research with ethnographic fieldwork, Aniket De's book The Boundary of Laughter: Popular Performances Across Borders in South Asia (Oxford UP, 2022) explores how spaces of popular performance have changed with the emergence of national borders in modern South Asia. The author traces the making of the popular theater form called G…
 
In Buy Black: How Black Women Transformed US Pop Culture (University of Illinois Press, 2022), Aria Halliday negotiates the line between "sell out" and "for us, by us," exploring how Black women cultural producers' further Black women's historical position as the moral compass and arbiter of Black racial progress in the United States. Black women c…
 
Margaret Cohen joins John to discuss The Underwater Eye, which explores "How the Movie Camera Opened the Depths and Unleashed New Realms of Fantasy." Margaret's earlier prizewinning books include The Novel and the Sea and The Sentimental Education of the Novel, but this project brings her places even her frequent surfing forays hadn't yet reached. …
 
We are back for a third season! The Russian invasion of Ukraine reminded us all that “everything old is new again” and that includes Cold War tensions, nuclear fears, and paranoia about “unseen enemies.” With our organizing principle of the Cold War and Hollywood representation, we begin with the Red Scare. We discuss Invasion of the Body Snatchers…
 
This is the definitive biography of singer-songwriter Nick Lowe, best known for "Cruel To Be Kind,” “I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass,” and "(What's So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding." Biographer Will Birch, who in addition to being a music writer was a drummer and songwriter with The Records, has known Lowe for over forty years and …
 
Should you train your kid to become a pro athlete? Why do Koreans dominate women’s golf? Why should ticket scalpers get more respect? Why are pro sports plagued by doping scandals and ruinous strikes? Learn the answers to these questions and more in my conversation with author Paul Oyer and sports economist Daniel Rascher about Paul’s new book An E…
 
On this episode of Darts and Letters, we took a personal journey into virtual sport. Listen in as guest host (and regular lead producer) Jay Cockburn gets ready to enter the world of e-sports, with a lesson in Super Smash Bros from a top player and professional coach. Find out why he won’t make it (spoiler alert: he doesn’t have that reaction time …
 
Just about every major film now comes to us with an assist from digital effects. The results are obvious in superhero fantasies, yet dramas like Roma also rely on computer-generated imagery to enhance the verisimilitude of scenes. But the realism of digital effects is not actually true to life. It is a realism invented by Hollywood—by one company s…
 
Queer Transfigurations: Boys Love Media in Asia (University of Hawai‘i Press, 2022), edited by James Welker, brings together twenty-one scholars exploring BL media, its fans, and its sociocultural impacts in a dozen countries in East, Southeast, and South Asia—and beyond. Contributors draw on their expertise in an array of disciplines and fields, i…
 
The term “metaverse” was coined in a 1993 science fiction novel. Since then, it’s grown from a dystopian literary concept to a reality that corporations want to sell you. Strap on some VR goggles and escape your tired analog life! Except that the systemic issues we already have seem to be creeping into the metaverse, too. As the lines between virtu…
 
Today we are joined by Jamie Fahey, a Guardian journalist and production editor with more than twenty years’ experience on several national newspapers and six years in regional journalism. He is also the author of Futsal: The Indoor Game that is Revolutionizing World Soccer (Melville House, 2021). In our conversation, we discussed the origins of fu…
 
We’ll save the Moby Dick puns for the episode itself, but suffice it to say that sinister game developers are on a whale hunt. This episode, originally published last fall, is about the sophisticated psychological tactics they use to hunt and capture their prey. Free to play mobile games as glorified slot machines, in-game purchases even for triple…
 
In this episode of High Theory, Olivia Stowell speaks with Saronik about Reality TV. In the episode she talks about the genesis of the genre in Candid Camera, An American Family, COPS and America’s Most Wanted, before the watershed moment of The Real World in the 1990s. She references the work of June Deery, and Pier Dominguez on the commercial rea…
 
You can learn much about a media and political culture by examining when it panics, and who it panics about. And we’ve always panicked about video games, from the early arcades until this very day. Whether you are a prudish Christian conservative, or a concerned liberal-minded paternalist, demonizing video games has long been good politics. On this…
 
Today we are joined by Andrew Guest, Professor of Psychology and Sociology at the University of Portland, where he also serves as Director of the Core Curriculum. He is also the author of Soccer in Mind: A Thinking Fan’s Guide to the Global Game (Rutgers University Press, 2022). In our conversation we discussed the possibilities of thinking fandom,…
 
In nearly 50 years of filmmaking, British director Mike Leigh has ranged from comic portrayals of ordinary life amid the social breakdowns of Thatcher’s Britain (Life is Sweet, High Hopes) to gritty renditions of working-class constraint and bourgeois hypocrisy (Meantime, Abigail’s Party, Hard Labour) to period films that reveal the “profoundly tri…
 
The forceful music that rolled out of Muscle Shoals in the 1960s and 1970s shaped hits by everyone from Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin to the Rolling Stones and Paul Simon. Christopher M. Reali's in-depth look at the fabled musical hotbed examines the events and factors that gave the Muscle Shoals sound such a potent cultural power. Many artist…
 
The television industry is changing, and with it, the small screen's potential to engage in debate and present valuable representations of American history. Founded in 1972, HBO has been at the forefront of these changes, leading the way for many network, cable, and streaming services into the "post-network" era. Despite this, most scholarship has …
 
Slavery and its lingering remnants remain a plague on the United States, continuing to foster animosity between races that hinders the understanding and connection conducive to dismantling the remains of such systems. Personal relationships and connection can provide a path towards reconciling differences and overcoming the racial divisiveness that…
 
In 2016, social media users in Thailand called out the Paris-based luxury fashion house Balenciaga for copying the popular Thai “rainbow bag,” using Balenciaga’s hashtags to circulate memes revealing the source of the bags’ design. In Why We Can't Have Nice Things: Social Media's Influence on Fashion, Ethics, and Property (Duke UP, 2022), Minh-Ha T…
 
A fascinating, complex dual biography of Hollywood's most dazzling—and famous—brothers, and a dark, riveting portrait of competition, love, and enmity that ultimately undid them both. One most famous for having written Citizen Kane; the other, All About Eve; one who only wrote screenplays but believed himself to be a serious playwright, slowly dyin…
 
Music sampling has become a predominantly digitalized practice. It was popularized with the rise of Rap and Hip-Hop, as well as ambient music scenes, but it has a history stretching back to the earliest days of sound recording and experimental music making from around the world. Digital tools and networks allow artists to sample music across nation…
 
Dr. Kelly J. Baker is the author of the award-winning Gospel According to the Klan: The KKK’s Appeal to Protestant America, 1915-1930 (University Press of Kansas, 2011); The Zombies Are Coming!: The Realities of the Zombie Apocalypse in American Culture (Bondfire Books, 2013); Grace Period: A Memoir in Pieces (Blue Crow Books, 2017); the award-winn…
 
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