In the 1930s and 40s, young American children flocked to the cinema to witness their idols thwart dastardly deeds, from halting train robbers to saving the ranch. These cowboys did not achieve their brave acts alone: some had sidekicks, but all had the aid of their trusty steeds. Silver, Trigger, Thunder and Buttermilk were the equine heroes whose…[Read more]
Henry James has appeared as a fictional character or abiding spiritual presence in more than a dozen novels and short stories since the millennium, including Colm Tóibín’s The Master and David Lodge’s Author, Author, which competed for critical and popular attention in 2004, which Lodge later called “The Year of Henry James.” Both novels imagine J…[Read more]
Yet, there is one final consideration to be made with regards to the supposed historical “truth” of Brown’s alleged “madness” or “martyrdom,” respectively. Even if a modern medical, neurobiological, or psychological analysis of Brown was possible, it is highly likely that his actions would be considered within the realms of what psychologists…[Read more]
In spite of the author’s claim that he has nothing to teach readers or critics, Vladimir Nabokov’s masterpiece has been read from innumerable angles. While he affirms in the Afterword to Lolita, “I happen to be the kind of author who in starting to work on a book has no other purpose than to get rid of that book,” critics have examined the novel’s…[Read more]
What if we tried to find a different story to tell about police violence and the Civil Rights movement? If we did, we might discover a new way of seeing history and understanding resistance to police brutality. However, to find new insights, first we must ask a new question: What would Miles Davis do?
The typical member or patron of an Irish American cultural center is hungry for an “authentic” experience. Irish Americans several generations removed from their homeland may travel to these centers in Chicago, Kansas City, Cincinnati, San Francisco, and beyond to temporarily and memorably explore their heritage. And yet, the cultural center is…[Read more]
With this essay, I join the moaning hordes who have tried to explain the resurgent popularity of the zombie in American culture. Why has this particular monster so pervaded our popular imagination in the 21st century? Consider The Walking Dead, Land of the Dead, World War Z, Zombieland, iZombie, Resident Evil, The Last of Us—from film and t…[Read more]
Hipness has been a recurrent subject of interest for historians and critics of American culture, as well as a common point of reference for discussions of the appropriative dialectic of “love and theft” between white and black subcultures. Scholars have approached the cultural practices concentrated around mid-century black jazz musicians fro…[Read more]
On July 11th, 2015, a man walked down Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, Colorado, pressing a collapsible plastic step stool and two signs between his right arm and his torso. After stopping to survey his surroundings, he unfolded the small stool and carefully placed it on the brick walkway, centering it on the glass entryway of the building behind…[Read more]
Romaine Fielding was a popular and versatile silent filmmaker who often produced, directed, and starred in his own productions. He worked for the influential Lubin Film Company and cranked out two-reelers at a prodigious rate. Committed to authenticity, he was also one of the few directors of his time to film westerns in the West, shooting several…[Read more]
Beginning in the 1940s and continuing into the 1960s, Dr. William H. Sheldon and his assistants took thousands of what became known as the “Posture Pictures” at the Ivy League, Seven Sister, and other colleges as well as at hospitals, factories, and prisons. Sheldon believed that there were three basic factors in human body types and that any giv…[Read more]
A provocation: what would it mean to reframe the marriage movement as a crusade for death rights and death equality?
Even though weddings are the performative centerpiece of the activism that successfully challenged the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the ground-breaking case of Windsor vs. The United States (2013) is one about death rights.…[Read more]