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Picturing America

Trauma, Realism, Politics and Identity in American Visual Culture

Antje Dallmann, Reinhard Isensee and Philipp Kneis

The essays collected here reflect upon various aspects of the roles and functions of visual media in (and outside of) contemporary US-American culture. By exercising close readings of the visual cultural texts or of visual media in context, we are presented with examples that illustrate the validity and significance of specific critical theories, while other essays point out ambivalences and subversions in the texts’ functions or meanings or present texts that may be regarded as models for diverging conceptual approaches. Amongst the texts discussed are popular television shows like The West Wing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, CSI and Nip/Tuck, films like The Big Lebowski, Bamboozled and Traffic, as well as photographs surrounding 9/11 and questions of identity and globalized culture.
Contents: Eddie A. Bruce-Jones: Surviving September 11th or Snapshots in the Dark? A Critical Consideration of Two Professional Photographs as Portraits of Denial – Anthony Enns: The Return of the Dead. Photography, Memory, and Mourning – Manuela Mangold: The Body’s Twist. How Does the Body Construct a Story? – Michael Lattek: Abduction and Adoption. Tracing the Western in The Big Lebowski – Chris Flor/Philipp Kneis: «Normal Again»: Buffy the Vampire Slayer as Psychotic Narration – Antje Dallmann: Manchurian Candidates: Conspiracy Fiction, Visual Representation, and Masculinity in Crisis. Three Variations on a Popular Theme – Florian Stenschke: U.S. Global Media: Enter/tainment, Enter/America? Introducing U.S. Entertainment as Symbol of Utopia and Transcendence – Philipp Kneis: Communicating Democracy. Entering the American Republic Through The West Wing or the Commander in Chief – Alexandra von Barsewisch: Bordering on Images. A Cinematic Encounter at the US-Mexican Border – Heike Toewe: The Use of Spectatorship in Spike Lee’s Bamboozled – Benjamin Letzler: «A Sliced Tomato You Have Maybe.» Jewish-American Literature and the Question of Food.