The Wow Climax: Tracing the Emotional Impact of Popular Culture

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Overview

Henry Jenkins at Authors@Google (video)

Vaudevillians used the term "the wow climax" to refer to the emotional highpoint of their acts—a final moment of peak spectacle following a gradual building of audience's emotions. Viewed by most critics as vulgar and sensationalistic, the vaudeville aesthetic was celebrated by other writers for its vitality, its liveliness, and its playfulness.

The Wow Climax follows in the path of this more laudatory tradition, drawing out the range of emotions in popular culture and mapping what we might call an aesthetic of immediacy. It pulls together a spirited range of work from Henry Jenkins, one of our most astute media scholars, that spans different media (film, television, literature, comics, games), genres (slapstick, melodrama, horror, exploitation cinema), and emotional reactions (shock, laughter, sentimentality). Whether highlighting the sentimentality at the heart of the Lassie franchise, examining the emotional experiences created by horror filmmakers like Wes Craven and David Cronenberg and avant garde artist Matthew Barney, or discussing the emerging aesthetics of video games, these essays get to the heart of what gives popular culture its emotional impact.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Offers a lively, diligently researched, and well-written account of one scholar’s engagement with the emotional punch of media.”
-PsycCRITIQUES

“Building on the tradition of social commentators such as Gilbert Seldes, Robert Warshow, and Susan Sontag, Henry Jenkins brings his outstanding insight and compassionate counsel to contemporary cultural phenomena. Here not only media, but affect, matters. A delightful and helpful collection on popular pleasures.”
-Janet Staiger,author of Media Reception Studies

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814742822
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 12/24/2006
  • Pages: 285
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author


Henry Jenkins is Provost’s Professor of Communication, Journalism, Cinematic Arts, and Education at USC. He is author of five books, most recently Convergence Culture (2008), Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers (2006), The Wow Climax (2006), all available from NYU Press, and is co-author or editor of eight other books on media and communication.
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Table of Contents


Contents
Introduction: Wow!
Part I: The Lively Arts
1 Games, the New Lively Art
2 Monstrous Beauty and Mutant Aesthetics: Rethinking Matthew Barney’s Relation to the Horror Genre
Part II: The Immediate Experience
3 Death-Defying Heroes
4 Never Trust a Snake: WWF Wrestling as Masculine Melodrama
5 Exploiting Feminism in Stephanie Rothman’s Terminal Island
6 “You Don’t Say That in English!”: The Scandal of Lupe Velez
Part III: Welcome to the Playground
7 “Going Bonkers!”: Children, Play, and Pee-Wee
8 “Complete Freedom of Movement”: Video Games as Gendered Play Spaces
9 “Her Suffering Aristocratic Majesty”: The Sentimental Value of Lassie
Notes
Index
About the Author
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