Paulina Johnson- Week 3
Nostalgia and the Golden Age

“The adult public is able to gratify a deeper and more properly nostalgic desire to return to that time period and to live its strange old aesthetic artifacts once again” (Jameson). After I read this quote, describing the phenomenon of Star Wars, another film that fits this description came to mind: Midnight in Paris (2011).This film, directed by Woody Allen, is centered on a young man, Gil, who cannot break away from the romantic ideals he holds of Paris in the 1920s. Many literary and cultural references are made in the film, such as those to Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Pablo Picasso (The Atlantic). The film also makes references to Man Ray and the surrealist movement of the 1920s.

external image 215px-Midnight_in_Paris_Poster.jpg

Midnight in Paris is an interesting example to consider because not only is the film somewhat of an homage to these great artists and creators of culture of the 20s, but the content of the film itself is also centered on nostalgia. Furthermore, the main character, Gil, who is suffering from this nostalgia is yearning for a time in which he never experienced himself. Therefore it is very romantic and idealistic that he desires to live in a time period that existed before he was even born, and the audience can sympathize with him at times throughout the film.

There appears to be a trend in creating contemporary films based on the Roaring 20s. A supplemental example of a “nostalgia film” in today’s popular culture isThe Great Gatsby. Centered in the 1920s, the film is an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel of the same name. Judging by the trailer for the film and its advertising, it is clear to see that the producers are playing up the idea of the Art Deco style. Art Deco was a particular architectural style that started in Paris in the 1920s and gained popularity worldwide into the 1930s. Remains of this style still exist today, such as at the Chrysler Building in New York City.

external image images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTpNxu67gmE1Xdtf9hRK9j3DUxJdsVwleQeteONC0ekaAVFP7Kx
external image 1293061487-chrysler20.jpg

It's interesting to compare the actual literary artwork for the piece, compared to the contemporary glamorized advertisements used to represent the same body of work.

book covers for The Great Gatsby
book covers for The Great Gatsby

1974 film adaptation poster
1974 film adaptation poster

2013 film adaptation movie poster
2013 film adaptation movie poster

Having no background in film production myself, I wonder what drives producers and screenwriters to integrate the culture of another time period into our own.


Stevie Chancellor - Week 3
The Shield

When I started reading the pieces this week on postmodernism, I was hoping that these authors would help me better understand what postmodernism is. And, after spending a few hours with them this weekend, I can say that I am more confused than when I started! Then I began thinking about some elements of my favorite TV shows, so I hope that this exploration with this show helps not only explain postmodern TV, but also what it means to be postmodern!

One of my favorite television shows is The Shield. I discovered it about six months ago while taking a class on modern media culture. The Shield follows an experimental police unit in Los Angeles and the lives of the officers that work there. The show was widely acclaimed for its gritty portrayal of LA, its cinematography, and its development of the characters in the show. The first season of The Shield received the most Emmy nominations of any basic cable television show.

Much of The Shield’s interest stems from the moral ambiguity of the main character, Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis). Mackey leads the Strike Team, a police unit specially designed to bust drug and gang crime rings in the Farmington district of Los Angeles. Throughout the show, Mackey often takes a Machiavellian stance to police work; if something needs to done or accomplished, few things get in his way. Ihab Hassan remarks that “postmodernism can be ‘defined’ as a continuous inquiry into self-definition.” This show forces its viewers to ask themselves – What is a cop? What does it mean to be a good or bad cop? To what extent do we allow our law enforcement to pursue criminals they know are wrong? Shows before the postmodern era would often present a way of life as a common-sense assumption to be made. How TV shows undo these assumptions and introduce ambiguity into is an element of being postmodern.

Another distinguishing feature of The Shield and other postmodern shows are its ensemble casts. Many well regarded actors – Michael Chiklis, Walton Goggins, CCH Pounder, and Benito Martinez, to name a few – are main characters in the show. While the series does focus on Chiklis’s character, there are many episodes that follow the other characters in the series. At the end of this episode, one of the detectives at the unit pins a serial killer into confessing for killing 23 people. Not only is the camera work comparatively gritty - moving cameras, close-ups on people's faces - but the tension in this scene is juxtaposed against the other members of the ensemble cast watching Dutch's interrogation while eating popcorn. The scene is both light and heavy, cathartic and stressful for the main character in this clip - Dutch - as he finally earns the respect of the rest of the Farmington police department.

Works Cited
Gomez, Nick, dir. "Dragonchasers." The Shield. FX: 14 May 2002. Television.

Hassan, Ihab. “From Postmodernism to Postmodernity: the Local/Global Context.”

Meggie Schmidt
Week 3

Postmodernism is associated with changes in culture and society that in turn effect the way that art, music, film/TV, and many more are portrayed, constructed, and categorized. In my opinion, postmodernism can be associated with an uprising or rebellion against typical forms of the art. Specifically, artists strove to define their own unique style by turning to other sources that were not traditionally associated with art. Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein, and Andy Warhol are some artists that come to mine when thinking about the postmodernism revolution that spread across America in the second half of the 20th century. These artists looked to other forms, typically associated with everyday life, to create art. It brings a debate between what is high art and what is low art. During that time, many people questioned whether their work should be categorized as art.

Frank Stella’s evolutionary style is associated with minimalism and abstraction. One of his most famous series is the Protractor Seriescreated in 1967. Stella uses inspiration from drawing tools to construct these large works.

Roy Lichtenstein worked with commercial art, specifically comics during the 1960s. He takes specific scenes from comics, and places them within a new context making emotions less personal and mimicking the technological advances in production that were sweeping the nation during this time.

The works below show Lichtenstein making a copy of a copy. Lichtenstein one of Picasso’s masterpieces from a postcard. Again, he is playing on the changing culture and society of America to show the advances in technology and worldwide spread of manufactured goods. The one on the left is Lichtenstein’s “Woman with a flowered hat” and the one on the right is the work created by Picasso. This brings a completely new definition to art and arouses questions to the changing age.
lich.png picasso.png

Andy Warhol’s fascination with consumerism is celebrated in his works, as many portray the new culture of the consumer and questioning the traditional role of art in society. The postmodernism movement remains, according to Hassan and many others a “cultural phenomena.” Warhol’s the silk-screen process expands on this idea as he uses machine-made photos and applies them to canvas, and then paints over the photo. The changes in the way art was constructed, perceived, and questioned, illustrate the new trend between interpretations of art as high or low, despite the medium and manner in which the work was created or copied.


“Coca-Cola Bottles”

Andy Warhol,
Hassan, Ihab. “From Postmodernism to Postmodernity: the Local/Global Context.”
Image “Green Coca-Cola Bottles,” Wikipedia
Frank Stella,
Lichtenstein, Roy. Ro Gallery.
Roy Lichtenstein, Images:

Langford Wiggins Week 3
That 70's Show


That 70’s Show is a TV sitcom following the adventures of six everyday teenagers living in the 1970s. Premiering in 1998 on the Fox Network this show was an amazing hit, lasting eight seasons. The nodal point of prior and contemporary relationships for this show can be credited to the setting of the show, language within the show, and modern references featured in multiple episodes.

This show is set in the 1970s paying homage to music, film, and politics of that decade, such as Led Zeppelin, Star Wars and Former President Jimmy Carter. While this show features different social issues of the 1970s, including but not limited to feminism, it happens to airs during the years of post-post-modernism and bridges the gap from the 1970s to the present. This show is set in the 1970s but utilizes language that would have been offensive and prohibited from airing during that time.

Finally, the use of modern references and art of the past brings the prior and contemporary relationship full circle. The use of Leonardo da Vinci - The Last Supper as a parody was a well-known reference in the series and grouped this show with many other sitcoms that feature and/or made fun of historical moments.

Occupy Wall Street - a Postmodernist movement?
(Sagorika Sen)

This week’s readings on Postmodernism as a form of cultural, social, political & artistic expression made me immediately think of Samuel Beckett and the absurdist form of theatre he is famous for. Nonsense drama or theatre of the absurd is a style of theatrical expression that questions and breaks down the existence of human beings in society. However as a popular culture form today the one on going event that stands out in my head is the “Occupy Wall Street” movement the world over. WallStreet.jpg

The OWS movement was concieved in a society exactly like this. Started on September 17th ,2011 as a protest with local protestors from New York in Zucotti park against the tyranny of capitalism, today the 99% the world over are fighting against a common cause of de throning the 1%.

The reason this characterizes a typical post modernist movement is because it is a complete rejection of the “master narrative” for history. It is a movement that is stand up against the totalitarian theory of capitalism. I honestly feel like the OWS movement is striving hard to break the uneven system of capitalism the world over and is honestly responsible for some of the “skepticism” that has developed against Wall Street and the priveleged 1%.

In the words of Ihab Hassan “postmodernism to refer to the cultural sphere, especially literature, philosophy, and the various arts, including architecture while post modernity refers to the geopolitical scheme” (1). As he also points out that post modernism stands for media driven, tech and consumer driven societies. The OWS movement was concieved in a society exactly like this.

The OWS movement also has not particularly defined “leader” of the movement. The movement is backed by ordinary people fighting for a common cause. As Ihab Hasan explains that the “in post modernism there are no set definite goals” . The OWS has completely refrained from drafting a definite mission statement. However this does not mean that they are not organized. The Occupy Australia movement has more than 24 committees and groups. The OWS movement on facebook has over 400,000 likes and the last time i checked 65,270 people were talking about it.

I guess the main critique against this is that how can a movement without any organized goal achieve an sort of tangible ending? I guess this is why the OWS protests completely exemplify the typical characteristics of a post-modernist global movement. We only have to wait and watch to see if these lack of well defined goals are going to prove to be a detriment to the movement or not.

Works cited

Week 3: Postmodern Wiki Essay:
The Trope of Detropia

Elizabeth-Burton Jones
external image photo-full.jpg?1339096628
Over the weekend, I went to a West End Cinema screening of “Detropia”. A department at Georgetown sponsored a group of students to go see this documentary. The theatre was packed and a man announced that after the movie, the director was going to do a question and answer session. The cellphones were turned off, the lights faded, and the movie started.

An orchestra greeted the audience, which created a theatrical introduction. The music was at a very intense part of the score. The classical music presented the city of Detroit during the filming of the movie. There were abandoned buildings and businesses were shut down. The city seemed sparse. This image was sad.

Throughout the movie there were different characters that told their own stories of Detroit. Some characters worked in Detroit when it was a popular city. Some of the characters never knew Detroit during it’s Golden Age. The hybrid state of the film is revealed through this diversity of opinion of the city of Detroit.“[A]rtistic and stylistic eclecticism (aesthetic postmodernism)
hybridization of forms and genres, combining ‘high’ and ‘low’ cultural forms and sources, mixing styles of different cultures or time periods, dehistoricizing and re-contextualizing styles in architecture, visual arts, literature, film, photography” (Irvine, "The Postmodern"
"Postmodernity"Approaches to Po-Mo). The “combination” of the opinions is demonstrated through the characters. One character studies the architecture. Another couple works with the visual arts and yet another character is an opera singer. The film continuously “mixed styles” demonstrated though the characters, the ages of the characters and the cultures of the characters. Each character had his or her own story, where they were from, and their own relationship with Detroit. Each character is connected through nostalgia.

Nostalgia is a major player in the documentary. “Nostalgia and retro styles, recycling earlier genres and styles in new contexts (film/TV genres, images, typography, colors, clothing and hair styles, advertising images)‘History’ represented through nostalgic images of pop culture, fantasies of the past. History has become one of the styles; historical representations blend with nostalgia.” (Irvine, "The Postmodern"
"Postmodernity"Approaches to Po-Mo).Each character had a “fantasy” of the city. What was it like? What did they want it to be? At the core of each fantasy, there was a yearning for a revival.

A theme that emerged throughout the documentary was a revival through the arts. Meaning, the movie starts out with the arts. The people frequently go to older places that were once imaged to be wonderful establishments. But a repeated image, was the arts. The documentary had an interesting way of weaving music in and out of the movie. The music was so diverse. It represented the culture of the city. There was soul music played, classical music played, and techno music played. One of my favorite parts was when a retro commercial was played and hip hop music was added as the background music. I thought that was an interesting transition from the past to present. Watching this hybrid art form of linking the past to present really fascinates me and now I am interested in how people do this.

In regards to this work being “a nodal point of prior and contemporary relationships, connections and assumptions” this documentary is filled with prior and contemporary themes, which is demonstrated through the characters. At the end of the movie the connection between the past and the present, the old people that live in the city and the young people that live in the city is the connection of hope. Each group no matter where the person is from wishes for a revitalization of the city. By the end of the movie, there is the assumption that everything is getting better because of the new groups of people coming into the city and the aid from the government.

external image past-present-future.jpg

My questions: After you have the connection between the past and present, how can you make a reality out of your assumptions? What is this genre of editing vintage images and adding contemporary music? How do you pick music for films?

Works Cited:
Irvine, The Po-Mo Site: Postmodernism to Post-Postmodernism

Week 3: Postmodernism|Postmodernity to Post-postmodernism|Post-postmodernity

Elisabet Diaz Sanmartin
Almodóvar dressing up as a hybrid between a bullfighter and a flamenco dancer

While reading about Postmodernism this week it was inevitable to think about the filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar. Main traces that define postmodernism are present in his films: apology of pop culture, irony, kitsch, play and parody among others. A lot has been written about the relationship between his films and Postmodernism, some scholars have disagreed that his filmography is postmodern, and just the first three can be considered as it; however, postmodern elements have been traveling among his films creating his signature as a director and artist. What I will want to explore is how Almodóvar creates a unique and personal style within the postmodern framework.

As Ihab Hassan states in his article, postmodernism is always understood in relation with modernity, Almodóvar’s content and thematic takes place within its historical context, looking with irony and parody at the traditional spanish society to create the scenario for his films. During four decades Spain was dominated by the political dictatorship leading by Francisco Franco, this period is known as “Franquismo”. During “Franquismo” culture was manipulated in order to maintain the traditional values of the regime; nation, religion and family. Any other cultural expression was censured and even punished. In 1975, Franco died and the sudden democratic process trigged an explosion of a cultural and ideological liberation. The cultural movement was named “la Movida”. After forty years of repression, artists could open the door to look at the rest of the world and redefine the outdated Spanish society. Almodóvar was one of the first to break taboos and to freely talk about sex issues, homosexuality, corruption, transsexuality, drugs use or HIV. He could have been denying Spanish idiosyncrasy but instead, he searches in to the roots of the Spanish culture to create the contexts of his films. Mixing traditional Spanish peculiarities such as Gypsy culture and Flamenco with Glam aesthetics and the provocative punk scene that was dominating during the 70’s is one of the keys of the configuration of the Almodóvar’s style (Allison 39). Through his films, Spanish society was able to recognize, laugh and self-critique itself.
Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios ctk.jpg

Almodóvar also creates an aesthetical style that characterizes his filmography and frames his postmodern stories. He is a big fan of the American Pop Art movement, specifically Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, which influenced him in both conceptually and aesthetically. From Pop Art he learns how to use popular culture to elaborate intentionally frivolous and colorful scenarios. He also inherited Warhol’s ”savoir fair” of being surrounded by certain characters such as drug users or transvestites, in fact some scholars see Almodóvar as one of the Warhol’s disciples (Tabuenca 91). Spanish popular culture of the late 70’s and the early 80’s was very different from the American panorama; Spain didn’t have a Mass Media culture and was not characterized by a big consumerism. Spanish popular culture was essentially Kitsch (frills, religious stamps, melodrama, bullfighters, etc.) and Almodóvar upheld this feature as an ironic and eclectic new aesthetical parameter to worship and diffuse.
Almodóvar creates a universe that dismembers the Spanish post Franco society and playfully makes a parody of all the conventionalism that constituted the Spanish identity. His style is created by taking the elements of the Spanish popular culture and reinterpreting them from a postmodern scope. The result is a personal and unique style that gifted him with label of artist.

Forum for Modern Languages Studies. Postmodern and Parody in Pedro Almodóvar’s “Mujeres al borde de una ataque de nervios” . Vol XXXI Nº1. Oxford Journals. 1995.
Ihab Hassan, The Postmodern Turn. Postmodernism to Postmodernity. Ohio State University Press 1987
Tabuenca Bengoa, Maria.The “Leitmotif” of the aesthetics of Pedro Almodóvar analyzed through the cartelística of his work. Universidad CEU San Pablo de Madrid. Madrid. 2011
Allison, Mar, A Spanish Laberynth. Ed IB Tauris. New York 2001.

Lauren Jones
external image upcycling.gif
In the 1990s, due to economic and financial duress, artists and individuals alike reinvented the culture of Do-It-Yourself projects and brought this particular form of recycling to the forefront of the craft art movement. ‘Upcycling’ is based off of the ideal that you can increase the value of the recycled materials that you use - one persons trash is another persons treasure. You might recall seeing coin purses and tote bags created from wrappers of popular food and drink items such as Capri Sun, Kit Kat bars, etc. Or perhaps you have come across iPhone cases made from recycled cassette tapes? How about a quilt sewn together from 16 mm film?

Sabrina Gschwandtner is an artist featured in the Renwick Gallery's current exhibition entitled 40 Under 40. The film utilized in the piece derives from various Feminist documentaries which the artist has rearranged so as to create a story of the role of women in fashion and media; and, has so aptly utilized the tradition of quilt-making as her format for said storytelling.

In his work entitled “Postmodernism and Consumer Culture”, Jameson states that as a postmodernistic society we essentially lose our history in finding our present. That through the constant reinvention of past ideals, customs, products, etc. we diminish the meaning of said ideals. Personally, I completely disagree with this. Through discourse and the reevaluation of vintage material, we are able to keep our past close to us - keep our history a part of us, if you will. Through forced confrontation with our past, and the materials therein, we are able to connect ourselves as a culture with our history in ways never thought possible.

Another point in Jameson's argument is the belief that as a culture we have run out of original ideas and, therefore, are condemned to making all of our art in response to the masterpieces of our predecessors. But, what is great art that does not contradict, confront, manipulate, reinforce previous cultural norms? Indeed, we would not have Vincent Van Gogh, one of the most famous and celebrated artists of all times. Despite his many attempts in becoming an Impressionist painter, Van Gogh just could not separate his mind from his brushstrokes, could not push aside his love affair with color to achieve his goal. And, all the better for us! We are a society of hybrids, and that in itself is novel.

Works Cited:
Jameson, "Postmodernism and Consumer Society." From E. Ann Kaplan, ed. Postmodernism and its Discontents (London and New York: Verso, 1988): 13-29.

YouTube link courtesy of:
"40 Under 40", Renwick Gallery. Smithsonian American Art Museum. Sabrina Gschwandtner.

Upcycing Logo:

Sara Anderson
Firefly - The Space Western

The one season of the Space Western series Firefly that aired on Fox is an amazing combination of genres and cultural representation. There are overarching science fiction themes, but it combines these with themes much like an American Western. They achieve this hybridization by making outlying planets and moons rural frontiers with less science fiction technology. These places resemble the old west, filled with colonists building their lives on these new worlds without the benefit of much capital. The costuming and scripting add to the Western environment also. When the characters are speaking English, the talk is very informal.
From the pilot, "Serenity"
From the pilot, "Serenity"

In more urban areas of commerce, Chinese is spoken quite often. This is a result of the government in this fiction, an “Alliance” between the Chinese and American governments colonizing the outer planets. The hybrid culture they portray is a stark combination of elements from both cultures. There was a scene in the pilot episode where the crew of the ship Serenity, the main characters of the show, are eating with chopsticks and drinking from tin cups. Some of the dresses and hair styles reflect this mixed culture as well. The languages are both prevalent, but distinct. Those who speak English primarily may curse in Chinese or say a phrase here and there, but their English isn’t changed.

The show has very unique characteristics from these different genres, but the focus is not dependent on the environment. Vastly different characters make up the crew of the Serenity, and they all see their world in a distinct manner. They all live outside the law as refugees or thieves, and are constantly wary of government presence. I found it a fascinating combination of other genres, while still focusing on the common dramatic themes of character points of view and interactions.

From "The Train Job"
From "The Train Job"

Arielle Orem

In 2010, the Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College launched its 99th Annual Exhibition entitled “Four American Landscapes: Sang-Ah Choi, Jeffery Jones, Andrew Lenaghan and Joel Ross.” I would like to draw attention to a landscape painting included in the exhibition by Korean-American artist Sang-Ah Choi entitled Welcome to America (2007).

Choi, Sang-Ah. Welcome to America. 2007. The Maier Museum of Art, Lynchburg.
Choi, Sang-Ah. Welcome to America. 2007. The Maier Museum of Art, Lynchburg.

In this work of art, I see many elements of postmodernism referenced in this week’s reading assignments. Initially, the idea of this painting as a “landscape” provides a cheeky challenge to the traditional or high-modern understanding of landscape painting. In the mixed media work, Choi mimics the pop-art tradition by reinterpreting the expected high-culture elements of landscape painting (literally things like positioning of the sky at the top of the canvas and the inclusion of mountains, rivers, and trees) with low-culture elements of mass advertising (branded images), consumer products, and iconic landmarks to depict her experience of the American landscape. Examined in this light, I think that Choi is asking audiences to consider the control that consumerism holds over both the physical landscape of America and the intellectual landscape of the American people.

Welcome to America (2007) also challenges the traditional national narrative of the founding of the United States. The mono-chromatic images of Choi and her husband have been superimposed with line drawings of 17th century British settlers, commonly known as Pilgrims. Also in the background is an image of a Korean airplane overlaid with a line drawing of a ship resembling the Mayflower. In combination, these elements set the context for Choi’s personal narrative of her experience coming to America as a Korean immigrant. Choi visually parallels her contemporary experience with that of the Pilgrims centuries ago, asking audiences to consider that America has always been a nation of immigrants. What is implied are questions of contemporary anti-immigration politics and hegemonic codes which privilege white populations.