As rich and complex as The Sopranos or The Wire, Mad Men demands a critical look at its narrative and characters as representative of both the period it depicts and of our memories and assumptions of the period. Mad Men, Women, and Children: Essays on Gender and Generation, edited by Heather Marcovitch and Nancy Batty, focuses on women and children, two groups that are not only identified together in this period (women characters in this show are often treated as coddled children and the children look to their parents as models of adult behaviors) but are also two groups who are beginning to gain political and social rights in this period. The connections between the women of Mad Men, early second-wave feminism, and contemporary third-wave feminism and post-feminism invite discussion in nearly every episode. These characters are further contextualized in light of historical figures and events, from the death of Marilyn Monroe and the assassination of Kennedy to the March on Washington and the bohemian counterculture. Moreover, the points of view of the children, who are now adult viewers of Mad Men, bridge the 1960s to the social and cultural concerns of today. Mad Men, Women, and Children presents an examination of these characters and issues in light of 1960s feminist writers such as Betty Friedan and popular writers such as Helen Gurley Brown, of historical events like the Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Liberation Movement, and as lenses through which to view the sensibilities of the early 1960s.
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About the Author
Heather Marcovitch is professor of English at Red Deer College, where she teaches courses in Victorian literature and critical theory.
Nancy E. Batty is professor of English at Red Deer College, where she has taught American and international literature and science fiction for almost twenty years.
Table of Contents
Introduction, Nancy Batty and Heather Marcovitch
Part 1. Working Girls
Chapter 1. Sex, Novels, and the Working Girl: Mad Men and Women’s Bestsellers of the 1960s, Heather Marcovitch
Part 2. What Do a Meaningless Secretary and a Humorless Bitch Have in Common?
Everything. Or: Joan, Peggy, and the Convergence of Mad Men’s Career Girls, Ann Ciasullo
Chapter 3. Not a “Jackie,” Not a “Marilyn”: Mad Men and the Threat of Peggy Olson, Mary Ruth Marotte
Chapter 4. Joey, Joan, and the Gold-Plated Necklace, Hannah Farrell
Chapter 5. Mad Men? The Portrayal of Mad Women in the Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
Of Mad Men’s First Season, Joan Crate
Part 3. Utopian Visions and Social Realities
Chapter 6. Is This the Traditional American Family We’ve Been Hearing So Much About?:
Marriage, Children, and Family Values in Mad Men, Julia C. Wilson and Joseph H. Lane, Jr.
Chapter 7. The Good Place That Cannot Be: Visual Representations of Utopia on Mad Men, Jessica Campbell
Chapter 8. Carla: A Woman of Quiet Strength and Dignity, Elwood Watson
Chapter 9. Beautiful Girls, Feminist Consciousness, and Civil Rights, Beth Mauldin and Patricia Ventura
Part 4. Mad Men’s Generations: Domesticity and the Family
Chapter 10. “It Was All a Fog”: Motherhood and the Birth Experience in Mad Men, Katie Arosteguy
Chapter 11. Tearing Out the Kitchen, Angela Rasmussen and Andrea Reid
Chapter 12. Bishops, Knights, and Pawns: Mad Men and Narrative Strategy, Carol M. Dole
Chapter 13. Mad Men’s Epoch-Eclipse: Marking Time with Sally Draper, Nancy Batty
What People are Saying About This
This collection of thirteen essays matches its subject’s invention, wit, and historical earnestness. The scholarship is creative, carrying theoretical sophistication with a lightness of touch. This study of the contemporary cultural phenomenon that is Mad Men is important for anyone interested in understanding how a television show can dramatize the political implications of gender, race, family, and the intersection between the workplace and the home. Readers will have fun while they tussle with important ideas and recognize shrewd connections between past and present.
At last, the most provocative series on TV gets its due academic analysis. Each essay here provides trenchant insights into the show and how it reflects our culture and its influences.