Category: Uncategorized

There is Nothing to Forgive: An Interview with John Ridley

12 Years a Slave is a beautiful, horrifying, and challenging film. It is the story of the capture and enslavement of Solomon Northup, a free black man from New York, after he is duped into taking his violin performances dangerously close to the border and slave states on a promising concert tour. He quickly finds […]

Woody Guthrie the Commonist: An Interview with Bill Nowlin

Woody Guthrie: American, Radical, Patriot, gathers together the complete Library of Congress recordings in one place for the very first time, including the interviews done by Alan Lomax, the VD demos, and the BPA songs written to help celebrate the power of the Bonneville Power Administration as it powered up the Pacific Northwest. In the […]

City Lights at the Dawn of the Talkies: An Interview with Jeffrey Vance

City Lights contains one of the most powerful sequences in all of American cinema, or any cinema for that matter. A woman, once blind, finally meets the man she believes was her wealthy benefactor. Their eyes meet through the glass of her flower shop, the full flowering symbol of her renewed life. She approaches him […]

Houses Without Names Book Review

Hubka, Thomas C. Houses Without Names: Architectural Nomenclature and the Classification of America’s Common Houses. , 2013. “But it doesn’t have to be that way!” That is the refrain in Thomas Hubka’s Houses Without Names (University of Tennessee Press, 2013), challenging the status quo of how and why we look at housing the way we […]

Another Self Portrait: In Conversation with Michael Simmons

By Rob Ribera In August, Bob Dylan and Columbia Records released, Another Self Portrait, the tenth in a series of official bootleg recordings.  Collecting nearly forty tracks of unused takes, alternate versions, half-starts, and demos, the album provides a much clearer picture of one of the most divisive years in Dylan’s career.  After a motorcycle […]

The Ice Storm: An Interview with Rick Moody

In the 1990s, there seemed to be something in the air about the suburbs and small towns of America.  Many novelists, filmmakers, and photographers focused their attention on the darker side of the cookie-cutter landscapes, examining the homogeneity and boredom of it all.  This took shape in everything from Tim Burton’s outcast in Edward Scissorhands, […]

Once There Was a Hushpuppy, Once There Was a Gatsby: African American Representation in Contemporary American Film

Beasts of the Southern Wild remains a critical darling thanks in no small part to its “magical realist” aesthetic and its tough young star, Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis). But, cultural critic bell hooks sees “No Love in the Wild,” arguing that the “magical” focus of the film deflects attention away from the pornography of violence at […]

An Anti-Empire State of Mind: Black Against Empire Book Review

Bloom, Joshua, and Waldo E. Martin. Black against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013. The burgeoning field of Black Power studies has produced a wealth of innovative and sophisticated treatments of the activists, organizations, and ideas that emerged in the late-1960s offering new and radical […]

A Quest for the Cultural Jesus

Prothero, Stephen R. American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2003. In the context of the present de-centered conception of American Studies, one might logically ask how a scholar might still use a myth-and-symbol approach responsibly to analyze insightfully certain iconic and persistent American themes.  […]