This presentation, delivered at SCMS ’16, argued for the necessity of film and media scholars to consider the industrial processes of pop music distribution (like radio formats) when considering the ways that music becomes culturally meaningful.
Michael Jackson experienced resistance from powerful institutions in pop music before his blockbuster 1982 solo album Thriller, and skepticism from some influential Black cultural figures after it. In both cases Jackson partially addressed these challenges through nostalgia-inducing images of the Fifties in his music videos.
Back to the Fifties, published in 2015 by Oxford University Press, is the first sustained academic analysis of fifties nostalgia in American popular culture in the 1970s and 1980s. The central focus of the manuscript is the political, cultural, and social functions of “the fifties,” a concept nostalgically constructed and reconstructed in the years 1973-1988.
The chapter, published in the Rowman & Littlefield collection The 1980s: A Critical and Transitional Decade, looks at both Reagan’s political speeches and pop culture texts from the period (Back to the Future and Family Ties) in an attempt to understand the implications of political and cultural mobilizations of nostalgia in the 1980s.
This essay, published in the collection _Singing for Themselves_, works backwards from the collusion of Benning and Hanna in Le Tigre to trace the connections between Sadie Benning’s celebrated video art and the music of Hanna’s Bikini Kill.
“A pure object, a spectacle, a clown…” was a companion to performance artist Neal Medlyn’s show “Wicked Clown Love,” and discusses the relation of Roland Barthes’ Mythologies to the fan culture surrounding horror-rap group Insane Clown Posse.
In Summer 2012 I curated a discussion on the open-access scholarly forum In Media Res as a part of their Theme Week on “Media Memories.” In this post, I explain the distinction between retro, as an aesthetic or representational style, and nostalgia, an affective response to contemporary historical and political conditions.
This article, submitted to a special issue on what media studies scholars term “Aca-Fandom,” centered on the tendency of recent media studies scholarship to inherently respect fan practices, despite the very real existence of fan practices that engage in symbolic and even material violence.
Viewing 1950s records of the New York City Planning Commission and comparing them to the critiques brought forth in Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961), this paper will explore the specific historical and spatial representations of urban space in Rear Window, one of film studies’ most important texts.
This presentation examined Reagan Era films that utilized 1950s popular music on their soundtracks to critique or undermine the commodification and depoliticization of Oldies. This, I argued, serves as just one illustration of the complexity and diversity of uses for nostalgia in the 1980s, outside and against the dominant “Reagan Era” narratives that so easily come to mind.
In the 1980s, nostalgia for the fifties became an enormously lucrative and politically resonant trope in American popular culture. The text most often identified as the founding document of this “nostalgia wave” in America is American Graffiti (1973).