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What does ‘2001: a Space Odyssey’ have to do with Odysseus? How does Brad Pitt's Achilles in 'Troy' match up to Homer's original hero? And is Arnold Schwarzenegger the new Heracles? This collection of video animations and audio discussions examines how the heroes of Greek mythology have been represented in popular culture, from ancient times to the modern day. Odysseus is the archetypal questing hero - a blank canvas on which every era has projected its own values. Heracles is the original s ...
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Pop Couture: Undressing Popular Culture!

Mike Ruocco, Erin Jade Igel, Joe Schrum

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Hosted by Michael Ruocco (He/Him), Erin Jade Igel (They/She), and Joe Schrum (He/Him), Pop Couture explores the wide world of entertainment and analyzes the media we love through the lenses of industry experience and fervent fanaticism! Join us as we talk about weird movies, stacks of comic books, awkward video games, trainwreckords, and everything in-between! Due to the mature content and language, this show is not recommended for younger listeners.
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NEON is a different way of sharing historical knowledge. NEON takes a pop culture phenomenon and turns it on its head by revealing lesser known facts, real-life events and history behind your favourite Netflix shows, movies or video games.From how the A-Team took inspiration from Vietnamese history and resistance leaders, to the Aryan purity and Harem breeding programs behind the Handmaid’s Tale. Even some of the most successful video games – Assassins Creed, God of War, and Fortnite – are s ...
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The aim of this series is to offer insights into key moments in the story of Irish popular culture since the publication of Thomas Moore's Irish Melodies in the early nineteenth century. If the story of transnational Irish popular culture begins with Thomas Moore in the early nineteenth century, it wasn't until the end of the 1800s that writers and intellectuals began to theorize the impact of mass cultural production on the Irish psyche during the industrial century. In 1892 Douglas Hyde, s ...
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show series
 
Can a song trigger a murder? Can a poem spark a riot? Can a book divide a people? Away from the gaze of mainstream urban media, across India's dusty, sleepy towns, a brand of popular culture is quietly seizing the imagination of millions, on the internet and off it. From catchy songs with acerbic lyrics to poetry recited in kavi sammelans to social…
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Hearing Luxe Pop: Glorification, Glamour, and the Middlebrow in American Popular Music (U California Press, 2021) explores a deluxe-production aesthetic that has long thrived in American popular music, in which popular-music idioms are merged with lush string orchestrations and big-band instrumentation. John Howland presents an alternative music hi…
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1980s Bombay was a time when a wave of low-budget, gory horror films made by independent film producers such as the Ramsay Brothers swept the B-movie market. Kartik Nair's book Seeing Things: Spectral Materialities of Bombay Horror (U California Press, 2024) is about the sudden cuts, botched makeup effects, continuity errors, and celluloid damage f…
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Why are some things cute, and others not? What happens to our brains when we see something cute? And how did cuteness go global, from Hello Kitty to Disney characters? Cuteness is an area where culture and biology get tangled up. Seeing a cute animal triggers some of the most powerful psychological instincts we have - the ones that elicit our care …
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In A Kiss Across the Ocean: Transatlantic Intimacies of British Post-Punk and US Latinidad (Duke UP, 2022), Richard T. Rodríguez examines the relationship between British post-punk musicians and their Latinx audiences in the United States since the 1980s. Melding memoir with cultural criticism, Rodríguez spotlights a host of influential bands and p…
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Feminist Afterlives of the Witch: Popular Culture, Memory, Activism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2023) by Dr. Brydie Kosmina investigates the witch as a key rhetorical symbol in twentieth- and twenty-first century feminist memory, politics, activism, and popular culture. The witch demonstrates the inheritance of paradoxical pasts, traversing numerous ideol…
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As I may be the target audience for Diseased Cinema: Plagues, Pandemics and Zombies in American Movies (Edinburgh UP, 2023), I really enjoyed interviewing Robert Alpert, Merle Eisenberg, and Lee Mordechai. Their co-authored book explores the politics of American films about disease and zombies. We had a wide-ranging, thoughtful, and funny conversat…
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The definitive biography of the creator of 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining, and A Clockwork Orange, presenting the most in-depth portrait yet of the groundbreaking filmmaker. The enigmatic and elusive filmmaker Stanley Kubrick has not been treated to a full-length biography in over twenty years. Kubrick: An Odyssey (Pegasus Books, 2024) fills th…
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The untold story of Chicago's pivotal role as a country and folk music capital. Chicago is revered as a musical breeding ground, having launched major figures like blues legend Muddy Waters, gospel soul icon Mavis Staples, hip-hop firebrand Kanye West, and the jazz-rock band that shares its name with the city. Far less known, however, is the vital …
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Any tattoo is the outcome of an intimate, often hidden process. The people, bodies, and money that make tattooing what it is blend together and form a heady cocktail, something described by Matt, the owner of Oakland's Premium Tattoo, as "blood and lightning." Faced with the client's anticipation of pain and excitement, the tattooer must carefully …
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Sabina Andron's book Urban Surfaces, Graffiti, and the Right to the City (Routledge, 2024) focuses on urban surfaces, on exploring their authorship and management, and on their role in struggles for the right to the city. Graffiti, pristine walls, advertising posters, and municipal signage all compete on city surfaces to establish and imprint their…
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An essential—and monumental—member of the Sonoran Desert ecosystem, the saguaro cactus has become the quintessential icon of the American West. In the Arms of Saguaros: Iconography of the Giant Cactus (U Arizona Press, 2023) shows how, from the botanical explorers of the nineteenth century to the tourism boosters in our own time, saguaros and their…
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Dr. Andy Jackson’s The Late and Post-Dictatorship Cinephilia Boom and Art Houses in South Korea (Edinburgh University Press, 2024) examines an unexplored area of South Korean cinema history – the 1985-1997 growth of art film exhibition, consumption, and cinephilia. This moment of heightened interest in art film altered how many Koreans conceptualis…
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Monte Carlo and Las Vegas have become synonymous with casino gambling. Both destinations featured it as part of a broad variety of leisure and consumption opportunities that normalized games of chance and created emotional atmospheres that supported the hedonistic aspects of gambling. Urban spaces and architecture were carefully designed to enable …
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Cosmetic surgery was once associated with a one-size-fits-all approach, modifying patients to conform to a single standard of beauty. As this surgery has become more accessible worldwide, changing beauty trends have led to a proliferation of beauty standards for members of different racial groups. In Refashioning Race: How Global Cosmetic Surgery C…
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Judith Fathallah's Killer Fandom: Fan Studies and the Celebrity Serial Killer (Mediastudies.Press, 2023) is the first long-form treatment of serial killer fandom. Fan studies have mostly ignored this most moralized form of fandom, as a stigmatized Bad Other in implicit tension with the field's successful campaign to recuperate the broader fan categ…
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The history of the fashion industry has been well written as it relates to people who conform to certain physical norms and cultural stereotypes, whereas the inequality in access to the world of fashion has been largely ignored. Despite this lack of coverage, much work has taken place over the centuries to enable people who live with disability to …
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In Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American (Rowman & Littlefield, 2022), Ian MacAllen traces the evolution of traditional Italian-American cuisine, often referred to as “red sauce Italian,” from its origins in Italy to its transformation in America into a new, distinct cuisine. It is a fascinating social and culinary history exploring the integ…
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The era of ska shame is officially over, and ska fans no longer need to hide in the basement, skanking alone. The creator of the popular podcast In Defense of Ska has doubled down on defending the checkered flag genre with his new edition of In Defense of Ska: Ska Now More Than Ever Edition (Clash Books, 2024). The original version was chosen by Pi…
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Today we are joined by Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, Professor of History at The New School, and author of Fit Nation: The Gains and Pains of America’s Exercise Obsession (University of Chicago Press, 2023). In our conversation, we discussed the beginnings of fitness in the United States, how fitness both offered the state a way to shape bodies and lib…
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Thomas Baudinette's Boys Love Media in Thailand: Celebrity, Fans, and Transnational Asian Queer Popular Culture (Bloomsbury, 2023) explores the contours of fandom, and in particular the mainstreaming of queer romance, not only in Thailand but in the Philippines and also Japan. Topics include the Japanese origins of the Boys Love trope, the Thai Boy…
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Why games are still niche and not mainstream, and how journalism can help them gain cultural credibility. Mainstreaming and Game Journalism (MIT Press, 2023) addresses both the history and current practice of game journalism, along with the roles writers and industry play in conveying that the medium is a “mainstream” form of entertainment. Through…
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In White Saviorism and Popular Culture: Imagined Africa as a Space for American Salvation (Routledge, 2022), Kathryn Mathers interrogates the white savior industrial complex by exploring how America continues to present an imagined Africa as a space for its salvation in the 21st century. Through close readings of multiple mediated sites where Ameri…
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Once upon a time, if you wanted to know if a movie was worth seeing, you didn’t check out Rotten Tomatoes or IMDB. You asked whether Siskel & Ebert had given it “two thumbs up.” On a cold Saturday afternoon in 1975, two men (who had known each other for eight years before they’d ever exchanged a word) met for lunch in a Chicago pub. Gene Siskel was…
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Often cited but rarely studied in their own right, family directories allow a reconsideration of how ancestry and genealogy became an object of widespread commercialization across the eighteenth century. These directories replaced the expensive, locally-produced, early modern artefacts (tombs, windowpanes, illuminated pedigrees), and began to reach…
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In the oceans of ink devoted to the monumental movie star/businesswoman/political activist Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor (1932-2011), her beauty and not-so-private life frequently overshadowed her movies. While she knew how to generate publicity like no other, her personal life is set aside in this volume in favor of her professional oeuvre and unique …
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Bands like R.E.M., U2, Public Enemy, and Nirvana found success as darlings of college radio, but the extraordinary influence of these stations and their DJs on musical culture since the 1970s was anything but inevitable. As media deregulation and political conflict over obscenity and censorship transformed the business and politics of culture, stud…
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A literary and visual exploration of the songs of Steely Dan. Steely Dan's songs are exercises in fictional world-building. No one else in the classic-rock canon has conjured a more vivid cast of rogues and heroes, creeps and schmucks, lovers and dreamers and cold-blooded operators--or imbued their characters with so much humanity. Pulling from his…
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We see notebooks everywhere we go. But where did this simple invention come from? How did they revolutionise our lives, and why are they such powerful tools for creativity? And how can using a notebook help you change the way you think? In The Notebook: A History of Thinking on Paper (Profile Books, 2023), Roland Allen reveals all the answers. Rang…
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Since the first translations of Lewis Carroll’s Alice books appeared in Japan in 1899, Alice has found her way into nearly every facet of Japanese life and popular culture. The books have been translated into Japanese more than 500 times, resulting in more editions of these works in Japanese than any other language except English. Generations of Ja…
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On June 18, 1969, "The Wild Bunch" premiered to critical success. Over the past 50 years it has been rightly recognized as one of the landmark films from the end of the Hollywood studio system. Yet it was developed out of chaos, with a controversial director who had already largely burned his bridges with Hollywood studios. Sam Peckinpah worked for…
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This episode of the New Books in Economic and Business History is an interview with New York writer Benjamin Lorr. Benjamin Lorr is the author of Hell-Bent: Obsession, Pain, and the Search for Something Like Transcendence in Competitive Yoga, a book that explores the Bikram Yoga community and movement. His second book, The Secret Life of Groceries:…
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Glitter (Bloomsbury, 2022) by Dr. Nicole Seymour reveals the complexity of an object often dismissed as frivolous. Dr. Seymour describes how glitter's consumption and status have shifted across centuries-from ancient cosmetic to queer activist tool, environmental pollutant to biodegradable accessory-along with its composition, which has variously i…
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Albeit inspired by a progressive vision of a working environment without walls or hierarchies, the open plan office has come to be associated with some of the most dehumanizing and alienating aspects of the modern office. Jennifer Kaufman-Buhler's fascinating new book Open Plan: A Design History of the American Office (Bloomsbury, 2021) examines th…
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When teaching a public course called “The Age of Debt” this winter break, I had the strange realization that one of the the most successful readings in that course, the one which most clearly explained the 2008 crisis and the financialized economy, was written by an English professor. It was Annie McClanahan’s Dead Pledges: Debt, Crisis, and Twenty…
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On this episode, Dr. Lee Pierce (she/they)--Asst. Prof. of Communication at SUNY Geneseo--interviews Bryan McCann (he/his)--Associate Professor of Communication at Louisiana State University--on a dope new work of cultural criticism The Mark of Criminality: Rhetoric, Race, and Gangsta Rap in the War-on-Crime Era (University of Alabama Press, 2017).…
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In The Needle and the Lens: Pop Goes to the Movies from Rock 'n' Roll to Synthwave (University of Minnesota Press, 2023), Nate Patrin examines how the link between film and song endures as more than a memory. It is, in fact, a sort of cultural symbiosis that has mutually influenced movies and pop music, a phenomenon Patrin tracks through the past f…
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In August, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter to complain about how U.S. regulations are holding local sunscreens back compared to the rest of the world. And while she didn’t name any specific country, the video featured headlines that did name one nation: South Korea. On social media, Korean cosmetics are now viewed as the wor…
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Animal products were used extensively in nineteenth-century Britain. A middle-class Victorian woman might wear a dress made of alpaca wool, drape herself in a sealskin jacket, brush her hair with a tortoiseshell comb, and sport feathers in her hat. She might entertain her friends by playing a piano with ivory keys or own a parrot or monkey as a liv…
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On November 20, 1983, a three-hour made-for-TV movie The Day After premiered on ABC. Set in the heartland of Lawrence, Kansas, the film depicted the events before, during, and after a Soviet nuclear attack with vivid scenes of the post-apocalyptic hellscape that would follow. The film was viewed by over 100 million Americans and remains the highest…
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Drawing across Games Studies, Childhood Studies, and Children’s Literature Studies, Emma Reay's book The Child in Videogames: From the Meek, to the Mighty, to the Monstrous (Palgrave Macmillan, 2023) redirects critical conversations away from questions of whether videogames are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for child-players and towards questions of how videogam…
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The domestic cat--your cat--has, from its evolutionary origins in Africa, been transformed in comparatively little time into one of the most successful and diverse species on the planet. Jonathan Losos, writing as both a scientist and a cat lover, explores how researchers today are unraveling the secrets of the cat, past and present, using all the …
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Body art, especially tattoos and piercings, has enjoyed an explosion of interest in recent years. However, the response of many health professionals and researchers to this phenomenon is often negative, as body art continues to be associated with issues ranging from ill mental health to offending behaviors. Arguing for a reappraisal of the diverse …
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Public bathhouses embodied the Roman way of life, from food and fashion to sculpture and sports. The most popular institution of the ancient Mediterranean world, the baths drew people of all backgrounds. They were places suffused with nudity, sex, and magic. A Jew in the Roman Bathhouse: Cultural Interaction in the Ancient Mediterranean (Princeton …
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What we learn when an anthropologist and a historian talk about food. From the origins of agriculture to contemporary debates over culinary authenticity, Ways of Eating: Exploring Food Through History and Culture (U California Press, 2023) introduces readers to world food history and food anthropology. Through engaging stories and historical deep d…
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Hunter S. Thompson was never a hippie, but his writing nonetheless helped define the counterculture and the San Francisco scene of the 1960s and early 1970s. In Savage Journey: Hunter S. Thompson and the Weird Road to Gonzo (U California Press, 2022), literary scholar and California historian Peter Richardson examines Thompson less as a cultural fi…
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Between 2000 and 2010, many contemporary US-American women writers were returning to the private space of the kitchen, writing about their experiences in that space and then publishing their memoirs for the larger public to consume. Season to Taste: Rewriting Kitchen Space in Contemporary Women’s Food Memoirs (U Mississippi Press, 2023) explores wo…
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Recipe (Bloomsbury, 2022) by Lynn Z. Bloom reveals the surprising lessons that recipes teach, in addition to the obvious instructions on how to prepare a dish or perform a process. These include lessons in hospitality, friendship, community, family and ethnic heritage, tradition, nutrition, precision and order, invention and improvisation, feasting…
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A companion to the #1 music podcast on Spotify, this book takes listeners through the greatest hits that define a weirdly undefinable decade. The 1990s were a chaotic and gritty and utterly magical time for music, a confounding barrage of genres and lifestyles and superstars, from grunge to hip-hop, from sumptuous R&B to rambunctious ska-punk, from…
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Food is increasingly a subject of interest in social sciences: how we cook, consume, and share food is relevant to our social lives. In Feeding the Hustle: Free Food & Care Inside the Tech Industry (Lexington Books, 2022), Jesse Dart draws on ethnographic fieldwork to consider the ways in which free food has become ubiquitous and even compulsory wi…
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