Praxes of popular culture

Broj 1 - Godina 9 - 12/2018

Uvodnik

Years after the Frankfurt School, Roland Barthes’s work, Laura Mulvey’s film analysis, The Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, various essential books and readers on popular culture, countless conferences and gatherings on popular culture that have taken place all over the world, it may seem that trying to point out the importance of popular culture in yet another scholarly journal is mundane. However, certain phenomena prove that this kind of topic is a necessity: the omnipresence of comic-book adaptations – such as the recent Black Panther phenomenon that has many global and local social, cultural, political, and economic implications, not least through the money-making promotions of certain kinds of active citizenship (NGOs’ promoted voter registration in theaters) – or videogame adaptations and rampant sexism and racism in one of the most successful industries of the day, or constant claims about the connection between mental health issues and video games, as well as the ongoing on- and offline struggle to give the neglected, minor voices their representation in popular products, or the timely #MeToo movement that called out Hollywood first and then almost entire creative industries on violence, coercion, and taking advantage over women. Popular culture is an industry as well as a community; it is profitable and it is marginal; it is equally monumental and trivial. The truth behind one of the most analyzed aspects of human culture today shows that it is ever-changing, transformative, that it is one of the most productive praxes for creators and audience alike, and, in the end, that it has important social, cultural, political, and economic effects, simultaneously producing affects and emotionality. ..

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Along with the introductory remarks on the relationship between novels and comics and their historically problematic status, this paper analyzes and interprets, from the perspective of creation, i.e. the scriptwriter and the illustrator, as well as from the perspective of the reception or audience, the procedures by which Pierre Lemaitre’s novel Goodbye, Up There is, on the level of content and expression, transformed into the new medium of comics. The comparative narrative analysis of the novel and the comic book shows that the shift from telling to showing mode requires, above all, dramatization, introduction of dialogues, and certain alterations of the plot, focalization, themes, and motivation of characters. These alterations can be linked by the common denominator – adaptation. Adaptation is thus seen as the creative process of transcoding, where the original is reconceived and reinvented in another form of expression, as well as an intertextual process of reception as decoding the narrative....

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This paper is an attempt to decode the linguistic games in Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1962) using corpus linguistics. Stylistic devices will be analyzed through a reference to the dominant metaphors and the ironic tone of the playwright. The playwright invents many linguistic games which have thematic functions; they are meant to parody the American middle-class values and institutions. Fun, verbal battles, guessing games, baby talk, and word-play are used by George and Martha to ensnare their guests in their dysfunctional marriage. I will also refer to the role of deixis in translating the playwright’s lamentation over the transformation of the American motherland into the locus of “ashes.” The bitter reality, the failure of success, and sterility have encouraged the protagonists to move from reality to illusion and to invent a fantasy child who exists linguistically (and not biologically). The aim is to mislead the guests and to validate their unhappy marriage. What is specific about George and Martha is that they insult each other, they blur the boundaries between the private and the public, and they have failed to carry out the functions of a happily united family. Characters will go back to reality at the end of the play; “reality exists at the moment when language stops” (Bigsby 282). In other words, characters will face reality and acquire a realistic vision about their situation when they solve the linguistic enigma. The final goal of the paper is to create an interdisciplinary zone between linguistics and the literary text. ...

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NOTE: Due to a possible editorial conflict of interest the author did not participate in the editing/publishing process of this issue of the journal.What this analysis proposes is a reevaluation of the crucial, and often neglected, issues of space/place within the Batman opus, concentrating primarily on Batman’s use of various spaces/places in order to enforce control and/or discipline. The study will initially be premised on the use of the Foucauldian discourse regarding the implementation of invisible control and therefore power, structuring its arguments around the theoretical concepts of the dispositive/apparatus as well as Bentham’s Panopticon. The paper will develop the idea of the Batcave as the actual site of control, the starting point of the Foucauldian notion of the “gaze being alert everywhere” (Discipline and Punish 195). Symbolically made visible by the prominent brightness of the Bat-signal, but nevertheless constantly hidden from the eyes of the criminals, the Batcave assures the presence of power that “should be visible and unverifiable” (Foucault, Discipline 201), and therefore exerts discipline. The paper will also address the issue of Crime Alley as a site of inversion by using the theoretical concept of heterotopian space as proposed by Foucault, as well as Gaston Bachelard’s idea of subjective/domestic spaces. Following the idea of a space recoded by tragedy, the analysis will explore the immunity of Crime Alley in relation to Batman’s disciplinary praxis and the Panoptic gaze, as well as its potential to subvert Batman’s “laboratory of power” (Foucault, Discipline 204)....

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The cultural treatment of wagelessness and welfare as its potential relief serves as a potent example of how popular culture has long functioned as a site at which American society articulates and negotiates its anxieties. Observing a recent departure from the figure of the “welfare queen” as the privileged site at which anxieties related to welfare are organized, and linking this change to the neoliberal transformations of welfare in the United States introduced by the 1996 reform, this paper adopts a Foucauldian approach to the issue of government in order to set the ground for an analysis of contemporary films which negotiate the conditions of wageless life in what has often been termed a post-welfare society. Looking at Beasts of the Southern Wild and The Florida Project as illustrative of a broader representational trend, this paper examines the role of popular culture in negotiating social changes by exploring the ways in which the two films negotiate dominant discourses of personal responsibility and work opportunity through the newly emergent figure of the “surplus population.”...

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