The Madonna Connection: Representational Politics, Subcultural Identities, and Cultural Theory

The Madonna Connection: Representational Politics, Subcultural Identities, and Cultural Theory

by Cathy Schwichtenberg
     
 

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Various cultural theories (foremost among them, postmodernism) have figured in the debate over the politics of representation. These theories have tended to look at representation in the context of either audience enablement or commercial constraint; that is, do the images empower the public or inhibit it? One key area consistently overlooked has been the study of…  See more details below

Overview

Various cultural theories (foremost among them, postmodernism) have figured in the debate over the politics of representation. These theories have tended to look at representation in the context of either audience enablement or commercial constraint; that is, do the images empower the public or inhibit it? One key area consistently overlooked has been the study of subcultural or subordinate groups that appropriate what is traditionally considered "mainstream." The Madonna Connection is the first book to address the complexities of race, gender, and sexuality in popular culture by using the influence of a cultural heroine to advance cultural theory. Madonna's use of various media - music, concert tour, film, and video - serves as a paradigm by which the contributors study how images and symbols associated with subcultural groups (multiracial, gay and lesbian, feminist) are smuggled into the mainstream. Using a range of critical and interpretive approaches to this evolving and lively cultural phenomenon, the contributors demonstrate the importance of personalities like Madonna to issues of enablement and constraint. Are "others" given voice by political interventions in mass popular culture? Or is their voice co-opted to provide mere titillation and maximum profit? What might the interplay of these views suggest? These are some of the questions the contributors attempt to answer. Some celebrate Madonna's affirmation of cultural diversity. Others criticize her flagrant self-marketing strategies. And still others regard her as only a provisional challenge to the mainstream.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This hefty collection of Material Girl scholarship is enough to satisfy even the most insatiable and intellectual fan. The authors of these academic essays--professors in philosophy, rhetorical studies, marketing, cultural studies and the like--see the entertainer and her relationship to modern culture in interesting ways, but some of the connections they make are tenuous. Roseann M. Mandziuk's assertion that Madonna's inarticulate presence on Nightline ``spoke loudly for a feminist realist epistemology'' is backed up by scanty evidence, and it is hard to take seriously Melanie Morton's comparison of Madonna and Jean Genet. The strictly theoretical essays are less compelling than those that view popular culture through the lens of contemporary sociology, such as the observations of Laurie Schulze, Anne Barton White and Jane D. Brown on perceptions of Madonna as a bad role model, and Thomas K. Nakayama and Lisa N. Penaloza's survey of how members of different racial and ethnic groups interpret Madonna's attitudes toward race and ethnicity. Schwichtenberg, a professor of speech communication at the University of Georgia, provides a unifying introduction, in which she manages to draw parallels among the widely varied pieces without generalizing overmuch . (Dec.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
Coming hot on the spiked heels of the reputedly torrid title Sex (Warner, 1992) by Madonna herself, this weighty tome attempts to examine the performer's ``themes'' and their relationships with and within popular culture. Madonna's use of images in her works to ``sneak'' the agendas of subcultural groups (i.e., racial, feminist, gay/lesbian) into the mainstream is the major thrust of the 13 essays by various academicians, scholars, and filmmakers presented. They tackle such topics as religion, feminist politics, seduction, and the effacements of postmodern culture. Somewhat tedious and technical for the nonspecialist to enjoy, much less get anything out of, the book is already causing a minor flap in some corners of academia regarding its worth as a line of scholarly inquiry. With postmodernists and positivists the primary parties to this dispute, only academic libraries should consider this title, especially those with comprehensive popular culture collections.-- David M. Turkalo, Social Law Lib., Boston

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780813313962
Publisher:
Westview Press
Publication date:
12/01/1993
Series:
Cultural Studies
Pages:
336
Lexile:
1450L (what's this?)

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