Oprah Winfrey and the Glamour of Misery: An Essay on Popular Culture

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Overview

"Oprah Winfrey is the protagonist of the story to be told here, but this book has broader intentions," begins Eva Illouz in this original examination of how and why this talk show host has become a pervasive symbol in American culture. Unlike studies of talk shows that decry debased cultural standards and impoverished political consciousness, Oprah Winfrey and the Glamour of Misery asks us to rethink our perceptions of culture in general and popular culture in particular. At a time when crises of morality, beliefs, value systems, and personal worth dominate both public and private spheres, Oprah's emergence as a cultural form -- the Oprah persona -- becomes clearer, as she successfully reiterates some of our most pressing moral questions. Drawing on nearly one hundred show transcripts; a year and a half of watching the show regularly; and analysis of magazine articles, several biographies, O Magazine, Oprah Book Club novels, self-help manuals promoted on the show, and hundreds of discussions on the Oprah Winfrey Web site, Illouz takes the Oprah industry seriously, revealing it to be a multilayered "textual structure" that initiates, stages, and performs narratives of suffering and self-improvement that resonate with a wide audience and challenge traditional models of cultural analysis. This book looks closely at Oprah's method and her message, and in the process reconsiders popular culture and the tools we use to understand it.
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Editorial Reviews

Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute - Seth Jacobs
We should commend Illouz in her willingness to blaze a new, and certainly untested path in anthropological writing.
Journal of Communication - David W. Park
Outstanding... its author digs deeper into her subject matter than any other researcher yet to address Oprah.
Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
We should commend Illouz in her willingness to blaze a new, and certainly untested path in anthropological writing.

— Seth Jacobs

Journal of Communication
Outstanding... its author digs deeper into her subject matter than any other researcher yet to address Oprah.

— David W. Park

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231118125
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 10/29/2003
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Eva Illouz is a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is the author of Consuming the Romantic Utopia: Love and the Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism (University of California Press) and The Culture of Capitalism (in Hebrew).

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
1 Introduction: Oprah Winfrey and the Study of Culture 1
2 The Success of a Self-Failed Woman 16
3 Everyday Life as the Uncanny: The Oprah Winfrey Show as a New Cultural Genre 47
4 Pain and Circuses 77
5 The Hypertext of Identity 120
6 Suffering and Self-Help as Global Forms of Identity 156
7 The Sources and Resources of The Oprah Winfrey Show 178
8 Toward an Impure Critique of Popular Culture 206
9 Conclusion: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Television 236
Notes 243
Bibliography 263
Subject Index 293
Name Index 297
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