Praxes of popular culture

No. 1 - Year 9 - 12/2018

University of Zadar | ISSN 1847-7755 | SIC.JOURNAL.CONTACT@GMAIL.COM

Editorial

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. ...

Literature and Culture
Marko Lukić, University of Zadar, Croatia:

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.When considering the complexity and intricacy of Japanese history, as well as the endless innovation and colorfulness which defined, over the centuries, the development of martial arts in Japan, a potential reader might be a bit skeptical about the ability to pick up just one book and find a clear, well-structured, and informative overview of a large portion of Japanese history. However, Alexander Bennett in his book titled Japan: The Ultimate Samurai Guide manages to do just that. Starting with a somewhat obvious and unavoidable chapter on the actual and metaphoric meaning/value of the samurai, Bennett initiates a narrative journey that, through its approximately 150 pages, never falters in conveying the main issues and pinpointing various crucial historical turning points. By opening with a self-explanatory title to the first chapter – “...

DOI: 10.15291/sic/1.9.lc.10
Literature and Culture
Petra Požgaj, University of Zagreb, Croatia:

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 perso...

DOI: 10.15291/sic/1.9.lc.6
Literature and Culture
Shalini Harilal, English and Foreign Languages University, India:

Contrary to common understanding that an objective is a distinctive feature of every game, the success of process-oriented games (Nielson et al.) shows that linear narratives are not the only way to tell game stories. The Last of Us, despite being a goal-oriented video game, undermines the focus on its objective of “saving humanity” by refusing to let the player fulfil that goal. Saving humanity is a “noble” sentiment that is not only a “universal” moral value but one of import from a biological standpoint. This paper argues that the game’s insistence on making “questionable” choices on behalf of the player and its depiction of a selection of contrasting social structures are a narrative ruse to unsettle ethical complacencies of the generic player, who brings to the game such moral systems to analyze the game as are incompatible with its temporal and spatial specificity. The question of the admissibility of textual analyses based on external moral parameters is of relevance not exclusi...

DOI: 10.15291/sic/1.9.lc.7
Literature and Culture
Iva Šarić, independent researcher, Croatia:

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 th...

DOI: 10.15291/sic/1.9.lc.3
Literature and Culture
Kevin Drzakowski, University of Wisconsin-Stout, USA:

The television series Lost uses the motif of time travel to consider the problem of human free will, following the tradition of Humean compatibilism in asserting that human beings possess free will in a deterministic universe. This paper reexamines Lost’s final mystery, the “Flash Sideways” world, presenting a revisionist view of the show’s conclusion that figures the Flash Sideways as an outcome of time travel. By considering the perspectives of observers who exist both within time and outside of it, the paper argues that the characters of Lost changed their destinies, even though the rules of time travel in Lost’s narrative assert that history cannot be changed.Keywords: Lost, time travel, Hume, free will, compatibilismMy purpose in this paper is twofold. First, I intend to argue that ABC’s Lost follows a tradition of science fiction in using time travel to consider the problem of human free will, making an original contribution to the debate by invoking a narrative structure previou...

DOI: 10.15291/sic/1.9.lc.1
Literature and Culture
Emilia Musap, University of Zadar, Croatia:

In Our Vampires, Ourselves (1995), Nina Auerbach argues that “[t]here is no such creature as ‘The Vampire,’ there are only vampires” (5). The newest addition to vampire studies, Dracula: An International Perspective (2018), aims at emphasizing the transformative nature of the all-pervading symbol by tracing its evolution from Stoker’s 19th century novel to its present-day (re)presentations. Having, once again, crept from its grave, the vampire reveals itself as the most enduring of all monsters, mutating with each generation of writers. The vampires that populate the papers of the volume illustrate the different ways in which historical and cultural contexts have reimagined Stoker’s archetype. Due to their protean nature, they have managed to escape the confines of literature and infiltrate all media.The volume comprises fifteen papers written by international scholars, along with a framing introduction by Marius-Mircea Cri?an. The volume begins with William Hughes’s discussion on the ...

DOI: 10.15291/sic/1.9.lc.9