Michael Jackson: Grasping the Spectacle, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Michael Jackson

Grasping the Spectacle, 1st Edition

Edited by Christopher R. Smit


260 pages

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Paperback: 9781409446965
pub: 2012-09-19
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Throughout his 40-year career, Michael Jackson intrigued and captivated public imagination through musical ingenuity, sexual and racial spectacle, savvy publicity stunts, odd behaviours, and a seemingly apolitical (yet always political) offering of popular art. A consistent player on the public stage from the age of eight, his consciousness was no doubt shaped by his countless public appearances, both designed and serendipitous. The artefacts he left behind - music, interviews, books written by and about him, and commercial products including dolls, buttons, posters, and photographs, videos, movies - will all become data in our cultural conversation about who Michael Jackson was, who he wanted to be, who we made him to be, and why. Michael Jackson: Grasping the Spectacle includes essays that aim to understand Jackson from multiple perspectives: critical cultural theory, musicology, art history, media studies, cultural anthropology, sociology, philosophy, religious studies, literary theory, gender studies, performance studies, disability studies, film studies, and African-American studies. Intended for classroom use as well as research and general interest, this book expands our understanding both of this fascinating figure himself and of gender, sexuality, celebrity, and popular culture.


’… offers a captivating overview, detached and critical, it highlights and revisits in an illuminating way the narrative layers of a postmodern artist…’. Volume! (translated from French)

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction: chasing the spectacle of Michael Jackson, Christopher R. Smit; Part I Mythology and Identity: Freaks ( from On Michael Jackson), Margo Jefferson; Michael Jackson and the myth of race and gender, Julian Vigo; Sentenced to Neverland: Michael Jackson, Peter Pan, and queer futurity, Amy C. Billone; Michael Jackson and the quandary of Black identity, Sherrow O. Pinder. Part II Music and Image: The 'split' biography: Man in the Mirror: The Michael Jackson Story, Jesse Schlotterbeck; From pop icon to postmodern kitsch: images of Michael Jackson in contemporary art, Brett M. Van Hoesen; Putting the music back into Michael Jackson studies, Christopher Wiley; 'We are here to change the world': Captain EO and the future of utopia, Carl Miller; Tomorrow today: Michael Jackson as science fiction, character, author, and text, Ruchi Mital. Part III Body and Death: Dancing with the Elephant Man's bones, Raphael Raphael; Cultural anxiety surrounding a plastic prodigy: a performance analysis of Michael Jackson as an embodiment of post-identity politics, Julie-Ann Scott; The unbearable lightness of being Michael: the religious witness of Michael Jackson, David Dark; 'We going to see the king': Christianity and celebrity at Michael Jackson's memorial, Diana York Blaine; Remember to always think twice: the reconciliation of Michael Jackson, Zack Stiegler; Bibliography; Index.

About the Editor

Christopher R. Smit is Associate Professor at the Department of Media Studies, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan in the USA.

About the Series

Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series

Popular musicology embraces the field of musicological study that engages with popular forms of music, especially music associated with commerce, entertainment and leisure activities. The Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series aims to present the best research in this field. Authors are concerned with criticism and analysis of the music itself, as well as locating musical practices, values and meanings in cultural context. The focus of the series is on popular music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, with a remit to encompass the entirety of the world’s popular music.

Critical and analytical tools employed in the study of popular music are being continually developed and refined in the twenty-first century. Perspectives on the transcultural and intercultural uses of popular music have enriched understanding of social context, reception and subject position. Popular genres as distinct as reggae, township, bhangra, and flamenco are features of a shrinking, transnational world. The series recognizes and addresses the emergence of mixed genres and new global fusions, and utilizes a wide range of theoretical models drawn from anthropology, sociology, psychoanalysis, media studies, semiotics, postcolonial studies, feminism, gender studies and queer studies.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / Individual Composer & Musician