Books

Post-9/11 Horror in American Cinema

 

The horror film is meant to end in hope: Regan McNeil can be exorcized. A hydrophobic Roy Scheider can blow up a shark. Buffy can and will slay vampires. Heroic human qualities like love, bravery, resourcefulness, and intelligence will eventually defeat the monster. But, after the 9/11, American horror became much more bleak, with many films ending with the deaths of the entire main cast.

 

Post-9/11 Horror in American Cinema illustrates how contemporary horror films explore visceral and emotional reactions to the attacks and how they underpin audiences' ongoing fears about their safety. It examines how scary movies have changed as a result of 9/11 and, conversely, how horror films construct and give meaning to the event in a way that other genres do not. Considering films such as Quarantine, Cloverfield, Hostel and the Saw series, Wetmore examines the transformations in horror cinema since 9/11 and considers not merely how the tropes have changed, but how our understanding of horror itself has changed.

Back from the Dead: Remakes of the Romero Zombie Films as Markers of Their Times

 

 

Since 1968, the name of motion picture director George Romero has been synonymous with the living dead. His landmark film Night of the Living Dead formed the paradigm of modern zombie cinema; often cited as a metaphor for America during the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement, the film used the tenets of the drive-in horror movie genre to engage the sociophobics of late-1960s culture. Subsequently Romero has created five more zombie films, and other directors, including Tom Savini and Zack Snyder, have remade Romero's movies. This survey of those remakes examines ways in which the sociocultural contexts of different time periods are reflected by changes to the narrative (and the zombies) of Romero's original versions.

Horror 201: The Silver Scream Volumes 1 & 2
 
Edited by Joe Mynhardt and Emma Audsley

 

In these follow-ups to the Stoker finalist Horror 101: The Way Forward, Kevin contributes essays entitled, "Horror is Culture," found in Vol. 1, and, "Horror Theatre: Horror Film's Older, Often Scarier Sibling," found in Vol. 2.  Both available through Amazon, see links below:

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Uncovering Stranger Things: Essays on Eighties Nostalgia, Cynicism and Innocence in the Series

 

The Duffer Brothers’ award-winning Stranger Things exploded onto the pop culture scene in 2016. The Netflix original series revels in a nostalgic view of 1980s America while darkly portraying the cynical aspects of the period. This collection of 23 new essays explores how the show reduces, reuses and recycles ’80s pop culture—from the films of Spielberg, Carpenter and Hughes to punk and synthwave music to Dungeons & Dragons—and how it shapes our understanding of the decade through distorted memory. Contributors discuss gender and sexual orientation; the politics, psychology and educational policies of the day; and how the ultimate upper-class teen idol of the Reagan era became Stranger Things‘ middle-aged blue-collar heroine.

Shakespearean Echoes (Palgrave Shakespeare Studies)

 

 

Shakespearean Echoes assembles a global cast of established and emerging scholars to explore new connections between Shakespeare and contemporary culture, reflecting the complexities and conflicts of Shakespeare's current international afterlife. Shakespearean echoes appear in diverse genres and cultural forms, from pop music of the seventies through the writing of Toni Morrison, to the book and film of Let the Right One In. Chapters deal with digital Shakespeare, Shakespeare on the web, and the powerful echoes of Shakespeare to be found in such seemingly unrelated texts as the television program Lost, sports broadcasts, and Game of Thrones. Within those discussions certain Shakespearean texts (such as Othello or Romeo and Juliet) recur; likewise certain modes of popular culture (such as science fiction) reappear. The collection helps readers navigate the diversity of Shakespeare's legacy.

The Theology of Battlestar Galactica: American Christianity in the 2004-2009 Television Series
 

The reimagined television series Battlestar Galactica (2005 to 2009 on the Sci Fi Channel), features religion and theology among its central concerns--but does not simply use its myriad faiths as plot devices or background material. Battlestar Galactica is, in and of itself, a theological text. Over the course of 87 episodes and two television movies, the series' narrative arc explores the meanings of salvation, prophecy, exile, apocalypse, resurrection, and messianism, and clearly demonstrates the working of a divine will in a material world. The book offers a systematic theology for each of Battlestar Galactica's invented religions and surveys echoes of American Christianity in the groundbreaking series.

Modern Asian Theatre and Performance 1900-2000 (Critical Companions)

 

Modern Asian Theatre and Performance 1900 - 2000 is a ground-breaking survey, tracking the advent of modern drama in Japan, India, China, Korea and Southeast Asia. It considers the shaping power of realism and naturalism, the influence of Western culture, the relationship between theatrical modernisation and social modernisation, and how theatre operates in contemporary Asian society.

 

Organised by period, nation and region, each chapter provides:

·a historical overview of the culture;

·an outline of theatre history;

·a survey of significant playwrights, actors, directors, companies, plays and productions.

 

With contributions from an international team of scholars, this authoritative introduction will uniquely equip students and scholars with a broad understanding of the modern theatre histories of Asia.

The Methuen Drama Anthology of Modern Asian Plays

 

A companion volume to Modern Asian Theatre and Performance 1900-2000, this anthology contains nine emblematic scripts from twentieth and twenty-first century Asian theatre. Opening with a history of modern Asian drama and a summary of the plays and their contexts, it features nine works written between 1912 and 2009 in Japan, China, Korea, India, Indonesia and Vietnam.

 

Showcasing fresh contemporary writing alongside plays central to the established canon, the collection surveys each playwright's work, and includes:

Father Returns by Kikuchi Kan

Hot Pepper, Air Conditioner and the Farewell Speech by Okada Toshiki

Sunrise by Cao Yu

I Love XXX by Meng Jinghui, Huang Jingang, Wang Xiaoli, Shi Hang

Bicycle by O Tae-sok

The Post Office by Rabindranath Tagore

Hayavadana by Girish Karnad

The Struggle of the Naga Tribe by W. S. Rendra

Truong Ba's Soul in the Butcher's Skin by Luu Quang Vu

 

The chronological and geographical breadth of the anthology provides a unique insight into modern Asian theatre and is essential to any understanding of its relation to Western drama and indigenous performance.

The Empire Triumphant: Race, Religion And Rebellion in the Star Wars Films
 

George Lucas’s first Star Wars trilogy shows the influences of its era; Cold War tension is evident in its theme of rebellion against totalitarianism. Recent entries in the Star Wars saga—The Phantom Menace (1999) and Attack of the Clones (2002)—are much more concerned with evil corporations, terrorists, and the corruption of the political process. Each film is influenced by the times in which it was released, but also by cultural subtexts and by other films that had direct and indirect effects on Lucas as writer, producer, and director. This work focuses on all six Star Wars films. The first topic of this multifaceted examination is how the films use the language of colonialism (“The” Rebellion, “The” Empire) to emphasize the idea of imperialism. Next the author looks at how Asian influences—including religious undertones from Taoism and Buddhism and the works of Kurosawa and other Asian filmmakers—provide a subtext for much of the action. Next the discussion turns to the representation of people of color in the Star Wars universe, and how other ethnicities are represented overall, particularly through the literalization of the word “aliens.” These topics of discussion provide for penetrating conclusions about Lucas’s films and how they represent race, religion, and rebellion.

The Supernatural Cinema of Guillermo del Toro: Critical Essays Edited by John W. Morehead

 

Guillermo del Toro is one of the most prolific artists working in film. His directorial work includes Cronos (1993), Mimic (1997), The Devil's Backbone (2001), Blade II (2002), Hellboy (2004), Pan's Labyrinth (2006), Hellboy II (2008) and Pacific Rim (2013). He has also worked extensively as a producer, with several screenwriting credits to his name. As a novelist he coauthored The Strain Trilogy (2009-2011), which he also developed into a television series for FX in 2014. Del Toro has spoken of the "primal, spiritual function" of his art, which gives expression to his fascination with monsters, myth, archetype, metaphor, Jungian psychology, the paranormal and religion.

 

"In his chapter, 'At the Mountains of Mexico,' author Kevin J. Wetmore Jr. argues that del Toro is more influenced by British fantasist Lord Dunsany than H.P. Lovecraft - a bold claim deftly unpacked" - Rue Morgue magazine

Suzan-Lori Parks: A Casebook (Casebooks of Modern Dramatists)
 

Suzan-Lori Parks confirmed herself as one of the most exciting and successful playwrights of her generation when her work Topdog/Underdog was awarded the 2002 Pulitzer Prize, making her the only African American woman to win the award.

 

Despite the cultural weight of this achievement, Parks remains difficult both to pigeonhole and to summarize.

 

This volume seeks to provide a context for her work, with essays from major and emerging scholars addressing the importance of factors such as gender, ethnicity, language and history in plays from her first major work, Imperceptible Mutabilities of the Third Kingdom to the 365 Days / 365 Plays project. Suzan-Lori Parks: A Casebook represents the first major study of this unique voice in contemporary drama.

 

Contributors: Leonard Berkman, Jason Bush, Shawn Marie-Garrett, Andrea Goto, Heidi Holder, Barbara Ozieblo, Kevin J. Wetmore Jr and Harvey Young.

Black Medea: Adaptations in Modern Plays (Cambria Studies in Contemporary Global Performing Arts)

 

Euripides' Medea is one of the most popular Greek tragedies in the contemporary theatre. Numerous modern adaptations see the play as painting a picture of the struggle of the powerless under the powerful, of women against men, of foreigners versus natives. The play has been adapted into colonial and historical contexts to lend its powerful resonances to issues of current import. Black Medea is an anthology of six adaptations of the Euripidean tragedy by contemporary American playwrights that present Medea as a woman of color, combined with interviews, analytical essays and introductions which frame the original and adaptations. Placing six adaptations side by side and interviewing the playwrights in order to gain their insights into their work allows the reader to see how an ancient Greek tragedy has been used by contemporary American artists to frame and understand African American history. Of the six plays present in the volume, three have never before been published and one of the others has been out of print for almost thirty years. Thus the volume makes available to students, scholars and artists a significant body of dramatic work not currently available.

The Athenian Sun in an African Sky: Modern African Adaptations of Greek Tragedy

 

Western literature has become more influential in Africa since the independence of many of that continent's countries in the early 1960s. In particular, Greek tragedy has grown as model and inspiration for African theatre artists. This work begins with a discussion of the affinity that modern-day African playwrights have for ancient Greek tragedy and the factors that determine their choice of classical texts and topics. The study concentrates on how African playwrights transplant the dramatic action and narrative of the Greek texts by rewriting both the performance codes and the cultural context. The methods by which African playwrights have adapted Greek tragedy and the ways in which the plays satisfy the prevailing principles of both cultures are examined. The plays are The Bacchae of Euripides by Wole Soyinka, Song of a Goat by J.P. Clark, The Gods Are Not to Blame by Ola Rotimi, Guy Butler's Demea, Efua Sutherland's Edufa, Orestes by Athol Fugard, The Song of Jacob Zulu by Tug Yourgrau, Femi Osofisan's Tegonni, Edward Kamau Brathwaite's Odale's Choice, The Island by Fugard, John Kani, and Winston Ntshona, and Sylvain Bemba's Black Wedding Candles for Blessed Antigone.

Black Dionysus: Greek Tragedy and African American Theatre

 

Many playwrights, authors, poets and historians have used images, metaphors and references to and from Greek tragedy, myth and epic to describe the African experience in the New World. The complex relationship between ancient Greek tragedy and modern African American theatre is primarily rooted in America, where the connection between ancient Greece and ancient Africa is explored and debated the most.

The different ways in which Greek tragedy has been used by playwrights, directors and others to represent and define African American history and identity are explored in this work. Two models are offered for an Afro-Greek connection: Black Orpheus, in which the Greek connection is metaphorical, expressing the African in terms of the European; and Black Athena, in which ancient Greek culture is "reclaimed" as part of an Afrocentric tradition.

African American adaptations of Greek tragedy on the continuum of these two models are then discussed, and plays by Peter Sellars, Adrienne Kennedy, Lee Breuer, Rita Dove, Jim Magnuson, Ernest Ferlita, Steve Carter, Silas Jones, Rhodessa Jones and Derek Walcott are analyzed. The concepts of colorblind and nontraditional casting and how such practices can shape the reception and meaning of Greek tragedy in modern American productions are also covered.

Shakespeare and Youth Culture

 

This volume deconstructs the underlying assumptions behind youth-culture Shakespeare and then analyzes specific "texts," from 10 Things I Hate about You to The Bomb-itty of Errors, from The Sandman to Reviving Ophelia.  The authors explore the appropriation of Shakespeare by youth culture and the expropriation of youth culture in the manufacture and marketing of "Shakespeare."  Considering the reduction, translation, and referencing of the plays and the man, the volume engages the points of confluence between Shakepop and rock, rap, toys, graphic novels, teen films, and pop psychology.

Catholic Theatre and Drama: Critical Essays

 

The relationship between the Catholic Church and theatre has a long and complicated history. This collection of fourteen critical essays seeks to demystify the ties--both practical and ideological--that have long bound Catholicism to theatrical production. This volume offers insights into medieval theatre, Jesuit drama, ballet and opera, modern stagings of medieval liturgical drama, Lorca and Lope de Vega as Catholic playwrights, Italian Catholic women's drama, Catholic play-wrighting and acting, and the unique challenges of teaching theatre in Catholic universities.

Portrayals of Americans on the World Stage: Critical Essays

 

This collection of 14 essays explores drama from around the world that depicts the United States and Americans. From Eighteenth Century German dramas about Native Americans through post-Revolutionary War British plays, to the theaters of contemporary Japan, Mexico, Serbia, Ireland, Ghana and other nations, the contributors consider conflicting representations of Americans. Sometimes flattering, often critical, and occasionally insulting, these various international views highlight perceptions of America abroad and how they influence the world's stages.

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