Sumiko Higashi’s Stars, Fans and Consumption in the 1950s is a book about popular imagery, namely those of the female icons of 1950s movies. Only this isn’t about the movies, rather Higashi’s text investigates the iconography of these women as it is shored up in magazines and on billboards, unveiling not only the rampant commodification of Fifties bodies, but also how and why they were so voraciously consumed. Continue reading
Ranging from Basque immigrants to nuclear waste, the book engages with established depictions of the area through referencing non-Nevadans Hunter S Thompson and Joan Didion as well as less known Nevadan writers such as Frank Bergon and Robert Laxalt. Whilst positing new and dynamic readings, Rio remains sensitive to his reader’s expectations, throwing Las Vegas and Reno’s seedy underbelly in for good measure, producing the first book length study of its kind. Continue reading
In part two of Antonia Mackay re-reads LA and San Francisco through the fantastical bodies in Cold War fiction. Continue reading
“Bodies become like cities” in LA and San Francisco, argues Antonia Mackay, as these places stretch the boundaries between American fantasy and reality. Continue reading
How did you come to your current area of research?
“When I started my Masters dissertation, I was already writing papers for a module on American Literature which I had found incredibly stimulating. I decided to write down a list of all the books I had read in my lifetime that I had found most enjoyable and the list strangely emerged as one featuring almost exclusively Cold War writers.” Continue reading
‘Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr Ripley (1955) conflates the Cold War debate over what it means to be an ‘authentic’ American. It begins to suggest something unnerving about the state of bodies during this period, that they were something other than what they seemed. This is a time in American history that demanded a visible, and conformist identity. One that was single, collective and unanimous, and could distinguish ‘them’ from ‘us’. Highsmith’s work of a bloodthirsty murderer who assumes the guise and identity of his victims, takes on an importance that is not only political, but also troubling.’ Continue reading
“Modern masculinity has shifted in order to fit into amodern city frame. This leaves behind the man in the gray flannel suit and the image of the conformist suburbanite. The new urban man of the late twentieth century has his identity constructed by Manhattan’s rapid commodity fetishism. Like the city itself, his body becomes visible, measurable and displayed.” Continue reading