CPPL: Publications & Faculty Seminars

wwnazigrip300Warners’ War: Politics, Pop Culture & Propaganda in Wartime Hollywood was one of the most compelling and well-received endeavors under the Celebrity, Politics & Public Life banner. Discover it here.

 

 Faculty Seminar Series

crescent300A CLASH OF PROSELYTIZATIONS
April 8, 2005
Jack Miles, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of God: A Biography, discusses propaganda, religion and the battle for the Muslim mind. Miles argues that effective propaganda has two elements: first, a compelling story; second, a place within the story for the proselyte, the prospect, the recruit, the mark. Our day is witness to a propaganda war — “a war for Muslim minds.” In that war, how compelling a story is the official United States telling, and where do the world’s Muslims, who are its target, fit into it? USC History Professor Richard Fox, author of Jesus in America, will be the respondent.
passion_of_the_christTHE PASSION OF THE CHRIST MEETS FAHRENHEIT 9/11
March 11, 2005
USC Communication Professor G. Thomas Goodnight presented a talk on celebrity advocacy and two defining films of 2004. on celebrity advocacy, Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ and Michael Moore’s Fahrhenheit 9/11. Goodnight explained the role these films played in the election debate and how television covered them. His talk examined the entwinement of entertainment, media and politics in national debate, as the most talked about films of 2004 transmute wartime suffering into political purpose, each serving a similar function for respective Republican and Democratic campaigns, and each generating controversy stirred and strangled in multiple ways by televisual critics. Steven J. Ross, chair of the USC History Department, was the respondent.
GreyAlbumTHE GREY ALBUM & CELEBRITY HOMAGE
February 11, 2005
USC Music Professor Joanna Demers presented her work on hip hop, remixing and grass roots action surrounding the release of the Grey Album. Demers’ looked at DJ Danger Mouse’s Grey Album, a remix of an a capella version of Jay-Z’s Black Album with the Beatles’ so-called White Album. Within weeks of distributing copies to friends, Danger Mouse was served with a cease-and-desist letter from EMI, the copyright holder of the Beatles’ recordings. Fans of the Grey Album responded by staging a protest entitled “Grey Tuesday,” in which several websites offered free downloads of the album. The nearly unanimous embrace of the Grey Album indicates that transformative appropriation of celebrity images and sounds may soon become acceptable (and even legal), but only provided the resulting collage pays homage to the celebrities in question. USC Cinema-TV Professor Todd Boyd was the respondent. Read the meeting notes.
hiphopmogulTHE EMERGENCE OF THE HIP-HOP MOGUL
March 14, 2003
Visiting USC Communication Professor Christopher Smith explores the emergence of a new type of American celebrity: the hip-hop mogul. Communication Professor Titus Levi was the respondent. Read Smith’s article in Social Text.
lanitajacobs300AFRICAN-AMERICAN COMEDIANS ON 9-11
January 24, 2003
Based on interviews and observations made during routine visits to comedy clubs since October 2001, USC Anthropology Professor Lanita Jacobs-Huey concludes that black/”urban” comedy around September 11th reflects an ambivalent patriotism — a pervasive DuBoisian “double consciousness” still felt by many African Americans. Read the meeting notes.
elian300ELIAN GONZALEZ AND ‘THE PURPOSE OF AMERICA’
November 18, 2002
Communication Professor Sarah Banet-Weiser examines the figure of young Cuban refugee Elian Gonzalez and how his image was manipulated to represent and further conflicting political and social agendas. Gonzalez’ transformation into a political celebrity brought to the fore U.S. policies against Cuba and the cultural identity crisis of second generation Cuban-Americans. History Professor George Sanchez served as respondent. Read the meeting notes.
angeladavis300ANGELA Y. DAVIS: RADICAL CELEBRITY?
October 11th, 2002
English Professor Cynthia Young presented her paper on the political, intellectual and cultural factors that produced Angela Davis as a radical subject and actor on the international stage. Carol Wells, Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics, served as respondent. Read the meeting notes.
gaga300INTERVIEWING CELEBRITIES
September 27, 2002
Celebrities have found their way into every media market, even usurping models on fashion magazine covers. Former Vogue film critic John Powers offered his insights into the quirky dynamics of celebrity journalism and the powerful publicity machines it feeds. Marc Cooper, contirubuting editor to The Nation served as respondent. Read the meeting notes.
jc300JESUS AS CELEBRITY
April 26, 2002
In the United States Jesus Christ became a cultural icon of a distinctive sort because secular as well as religious Americans found him indispensable as ethical model and spiritual resource. Yet even as they praised him, many Americans have been troubled by the prospect that Jesus might, through the broad cultural embrace of him, be converted into a domesticated idol. History Professor Richard Fox’s paper examines a few exemplary instances of such concern — from philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson to singer Glen Campbell — and argues that they reiterate a preoccupation already spelled out in the gospels: Jesus saves, but must himself be saved from popular adulation. The respondent was Jack Miles, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of God: A Biography and Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God. Read the meeting notes.
holo300FRANCISCO TOLEDO: CACIQUE ARTIST
March 22, 2002
Selma Holo, Director of the USC University Galleries, presented a draft of a chapter from her forthcoming book, Managing Memory, Negotiating Change: Oaxaca and the Arts in Mexico’s Transition to Democracy. This chapter focuses on Francisco Toledo, Mexico’s most celebrated living artist, and a tremendous political force in Oaxaca. Leveraging both his substantial wealth and celebrity, Toledo revitalized Oaxaca both politically and culturally, and consolidated his authority. According to Holo, Toledo is a classic cacique, a charismatic leader who exercises authoritarian power quite opposed to the democratic principles he espouses. Professor Abraham Lowenthal from international relations served as respondent. Read the meeting notes.

mmead300MARGARET MEAD: ANTHROPOLOGY’S LIMINAL FIGURE
February 8, 2002
Anthropology Professor Nancy Lutkehaus took as her subject the best-known anthropologist in the world and a figure of some celebrity. Within the discipline of anthropology, however, Mead has long occupied an ambivalent position, at different times being more or less revered or reviled by others in the profession. Professor Lutkehaus discussed Mead as a mediator between the worlds of academia and the public sphere in order to discuss more generally the role of the intellectual as celebrity in 20th century American culture. Professor Lois Banner from the history department served as respondent. Read the meeting notes.
msturken300THE ACCIDENTAL AND THE INFAMOUS
November 30, 2001 
In “The Accidental and the Infamous: When ‘Ordinary’ People Become Celebrities – The Case of Timothy McVeigh,” Communication Professor Marita Sturken examined the role that celebrity plays in the lives of ordinary citizens who, through circumstances of their own making or by chance, find themselves the focus of public scrutiny. This paper focused on the Oklahoma City bombing, and the subsequent celebrity status of Timothy McVeigh and the public visibility of the survivors of the bombing. Neal Gabler, Senior Fellow at the Norman Lear Center, served as respondent. Read the meeting notes.
edrobinson300LITTLE CAESAR AND THE HUAC MOB
September 28, 2001
“Little Caesar and the HUAC Mob: Edward G. Robinson and the Decline of Hollywood Liberalism” is Chapter Three of History Professor Steven Ross‘ book in progress, Hollywood Left and Right: Movie Stars and Politics. Despite the fact that Hollywood emerged as a center of politics and culture in the 1930s, Ross found that scholarship has focussed almost exclusively on the Hollywood Ten. This chapter tells the story of Robinson, a progressive Hollywood liberal with no apparent interest in communism, whose career fell apart when he became the target of inquiries from the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). History Professor Vanessa Schwartz and actor Ed Asner served as respondents. Read the meeting notes.
oprah300OPRAH: THE LAST INTELLECTUAL
April 25, 2001
This paper, written by USC Cinema-Television Professor Dana Polan, springs from a larger project examining different forms of knowledge production, the wide variety of knowledge producers, as well as intellectuals as media figures. Polan is especially interested in the media’s portrayal of academics and argues that professors ignore public and popular conceptions of themselves and their work. In examining different forms of knowledge production, Polan chose to look at Oprah Winfrey and an episode of her TV show, Oprah!, titled “How Dumb Are We?” English Professor Alice Gambrell served as respondent. Read the meeting notes.
freak300LATIN GENEALOGIES: BROADWAY AND BEYOND
February 23, 2001
USC English Professor David Roman argued that John Leguizamo’s Freak presents two genealogical systems: one based on the biological family and another based on a history of pan-Latino performers. Leguizamo dedicates his work to both of these systems by coming to terms with his father and by invoking the Latino performers who have blazed the trail before him. In so doing, Leguizamo forges new models of kinship for Latino culture and endorses a cultural identification that includes a spectrum of Latino identities. English Professor Leo Braudy served as respondent. Read the meeting notes.

tbaxter300THE REAL TED BAXTER
December 8, 2000
From USC Journalism Professor Terry Anzur’s forthcoming book, Strangers in the Living Room: How Local Television News Found Its Audience and Lost Its Soul, this chapter looks at the real-life Los Angeles TV news anchors upon whom Ted Baxter, the fictional anchor on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, was based. Sociology Professor Barry Glassner served as respondent. Read the meeting notes.
sjp10CELEBRITY AND THE LOGIC OF FASHION
November 10, 2000
This paper grows out of USC Art History Professor Nancy Troy’s work on a book, Couture and Culture: Fashion and the Marketing of Modernism. Inquiring into the nature of the relationship between art, theater, and the fashion industry in early 20th-century France and America, her study focuses on the activities of the couturier, designer, entrepreneur, collector and patron of the arts, Paul Poiret (1879-1944). Troy examines his self-construction and performance as celebrity and artist through his patronage of architects, painters and graphic artists and through the extremely sophisticated marketing schemes he developed to sell his clothes, perfume and furniture creations. UCLA History Professor Eugen Weber and Dr. Judith Blumenthal served as respondents. Read the meeting notes.
mapplethorpe300THE JESSE HELMS THEORY OF ART
October 13, 2000
USC Art History Professor Richard Meyer first presented this paper at the Santa Monica Museum of Art on the occasion of the museum’s “recreation” of The Perfect Moment, a retrospective of the work of Robert Mapplethorpe. The paper focuses on Robert Mapplethorpe and “Dirty Pictures,” a Showtime television movie about Mapplethorpe and the Dennis Barrie censorship trial. Political Science Professor Mark Kann served as respondent. Read the meeting notes.