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2006 - American Studies Association Words: 398 words || 
1. Meztger, Sean. "Mao a la Mode: Costume, Communism and Contestation in Asian/ American Theatre" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association, <Not Available>. 2019-09-19 <>
Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: Sean Metzger, Assistant Professor, English and Theater Studies, Duke University

Melissa Schrift has recently linked Maoist iconography as evidenced by the advertisement of goods on ebay to complicated forms of nostalgia in the US. While her study focuses on the "Mao revival" in China, her brief comments on US collectors of commodities featuring Mao suggest an ambivalent, often paradoxical, relationship between US consumers and the communist system he came to represent. Schrift's analysis suggests that various objects-from Mao suits to mao badges to mao posters-index a variety of longings in the US public imagination. This observation serves as my own touchstone for an analysis of the fetish of the Mao suit in Asian/ American theatre.
I will explore how two Asian/ American performances from the early to mid-90s use the Mao suit as a sign that registers value not, as might be expected, through its historical valence, but instead through its place in a system of otherness that, more often than not, centers the assimilated Asian/ American body as norm. Asian/ American theatre serves as a particularly productive site for this investigation, since it foregrounds the body.
In my talk, I therefore focus on Asian/ American stage productions that enact complex and contradictory relationships among Mao, communism and Asian/ American cultural formation through the display of gendered bodies, the fates of which all depend on their relationships to standards and perceptions of beauty. In particular, I examine Wakako Yamauchi's The Chairman's Wife and Chay Yew's Red, elaborating the ways both texts use the Mao suit as fetish. Briefly, I will argue the uniform throws into relief the contradictions of Chinese state formation that threaten to tear the very fabric of the Chinese nation into pieces in Yamauchi's drama. Red mobilizes yet another vision of the Mao suit, because it associates the garb primarily with the violence of the Cultural Revolution's Red Guards. Despite its often engaging investigations of the pathos of sacrifice, Red persists in a tradition of marking artists as protagonists and communist agents, dressed for the part in Mao suits, as the antagonists. The logic that holds this relationship together is fetishistic, for it depends on a belief in the Mao suit as object to represent a generalized difference that activates the play's conflicts.

Works Cited:
Shrift, Melissa. Biography of a Chairman Mao Badge: the Creation and Mass
Consumption of a Personality Cult. New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 2001.

2010 - NCA 96th Annual Convention Words: 188 words || 
2. Paine, Richard. "Tailor-Made Racism: The Confluence of Humor and Physical Space as Threads in a Nationally Marketed Halloween Costume" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the NCA 96th Annual Convention, Hilton San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, <Not Available>. 2019-09-19 <>
Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: In the Fall of 2009, the “Illegal Alien Adult Costume” was briefly available for sale nationwide. It invited buyers to don a prototypical “space alien” mask, an orange prison jump suit, and carry a “green card” to assert “legal status.” The ad campaign for this costume proclaimed: “He didn't just cross a border, he crossed a galaxy! He's got his green card, but it's from another planet! Sure to get some laughs.…” Predictably, while the costume may have provoked laughter in some quarters, it provoked outrage in others. In turn, the outrage on one side provoked outrage on the other – and the battle was joined over where the line between “humor” and “racism” actually lies. This paper will draw on a variety of perspectives on both the rhetoric of humor and the rhetoric of racism in order to consider the interaction between these topics. It will examine the costume itself, the mass media coverage which the story provoked, and the comments made by “everyday readers” (web-surfers) who felt moved to respond to the stories they read about this incident.

2010 - American Studies Association Annual Meeting Words: 437 words || 
3. Tinkcom, Matthew. "The Revolutionary Costumes: "An American Family" and "Grey Gardens" as Melodramatic Documentaries" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Grand Hyatt, San Antonio, TX, <Not Available>. 2019-09-19 <>
Publication Type: Internal Paper
Abstract: In 1973, the documentary moving image took a turn toward the personal; from January to March, the Public Broadcasting System aired Alan and Susan Raymonds’ twelve part series, "An American Family," while in late summer, Albert and David Maysles filmed the raw footage that would subsequently become a centerpiece of the ‘direct cinema’ movement, "Grey Gardens." In both instances, the institution of the family took a central role in the film-makers’ projects in a way that it had not previously in non-fiction film and television. Prior to this moment, documentary in the United States had been associated with the articulation of institutions such as politics ("Primary," 1960) psychiatry ("Titicut Follies," 1967) and popular music ("Gimme Shelter," 1970); and while the sense of the documentary as a personal form was emerging, as in films such as "Don’t Look Back’s" depiction of Bob Dylan or "Salesman’s" portrait of itinerant bible vendors, the movement of the camera into to the intimate spaces of the home was an innovation of the documentary practices of film-making that reshaped the genre in ways that persist into the present.

What was the appeal of these documentaries? How did these depictions of families talking, eating, listening to music, discussing family photographs, feeding their many pets and bickering over events that had occurred both the day before and decades previously fascinate their viewers? This paper argues that "An American Family" and "Grey Gardens" conjoined two previously un-examined aspects of everyday life into the documentary: first, the psychodynamics of family life and, in particular, the bonds between parents and children, came to the forefront as worthy of the documentary lens, and second, femininity and domesticity emerged most centrally as the new fascination of the non-fiction film. The ‘stars’ of these vehicles were the mothers Pat Loud and ‘Big Edie’ Beale, and their sexually non-conforming children, Lance Loud (who was the first out gay man on television) and ‘Little Edie’ Beale, whose reluctance to marry rendered her into a surrogate spouse for her mother.

Further, the paper argues that these concerns were recognizable to audiences because they had emerged in fiction film and television through the generic practices of the melodrama. While scholarship on melodrama in moving image culture has understood it largely as a feature of fiction film and television, the Raymonds and the Maysles’ innovation in "An American Family" and in "Grey Gardens" was to understand that these families both lived their lives as melodrama—through scrutiny of the family, its performativity, its affective dimensions, and its deployment of fashion and music—and, conversely, that the melodrama was a meaningful narrative through which to edit—literally—the films’ raw materials.

2014 - RSA Annual Meeting Words: 132 words || 
4. Jones, Ann. "Pietro Bertelli's Costume Books as Gendered Civic Portraits" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the RSA Annual Meeting, New York, NY, Hilton New York, <Not Available>. 2019-09-19 <>
Publication Type: Panel Paper
Abstract: In Diversarum Nationum Habitus (Padua, 1594–96), Pietro Bertelli depicts costumes according to gendered ideologies of space. He expands the costume book's typical format of a single figure per page into scenes of political power by combining four to eight pages into long fold-outs: a dogal coronation, an Ottoman military parade. In contrast, he depicts women as the objects of titillating discovery by attaching fold-ups that can be lifted to reveal a hidden figure: a Neapolitan noblewoman in a curtained litter, a Turkish bride on horseback under a canopy, Venetian brides under a gondola's felce. Against this privacy rendered public, Bertelli's men perform in open arenas: rowing the Bucintoro, battling on a bridge, playing soccer. Proper civic identities are thus differentiated through ingeniously innovative images of less and more visible spheres of action.

2013 - SSSA Annual Meeting Words: 21 words || 
5. Hess, Bailey. "From Proper to Perverse: The Evolution of the Halloween Costume" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the SSSA Annual Meeting, New Orleans Marriott, New Orleans, Louisiana, Mar 27, 2013 <Not Available>. 2019-09-19 <>
Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: Photographs will be used to compare gendered costumes from the 1950s to today, noting the increasingly sexualized costumes of young females.

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