Category Archives: Sites to Check Out

Yes, there is a fan studies journal

What are (what is?) fan studies, you ask?

To get some idea of what fan studies is about, and what is possible in the field, check out the recently-launched online academic journal, Transformative Works and Cultures, or TWC.

TWC is an international peer-reviewed journal published by the non-profit Organization for Transformative Works. It publishes articles about “transformative works,” meaning, broadly, cultural works transformed by the individual fans and fan collectives who use and discuss them. Fan fiction, or fanfic, for example.

You can find out more by skimming the Table of Contents of their first five issues, which cover a huge range of stuff. For example, the first issue covers everything from Star Trek to Warhammer 40,000 to Hillary Clinton’s presidential primary campaign to horror fiction to BDSM “slash” fiction to theories and practices of collective (not individual) authorship.

Not a bad site to bookmark. 🙂

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The Practice of Everyday Life: “Time Theft”

La Perruque

True or False (answer from your own perspective): When you are “at work,” you owe your employer all of your energy and attention from the time you start work to the time you leave, and everything you do while at work should serve your employer’s interests.

Do you agree? Why or why not?

Michel de Certeau discusses the ways in which workers exercise creativity on “company time,” using the term la perruque (lit., the wig) to describe this kind of rogue creativity. He presents this as an alternative to a working life that is overly rationalized, precisely regimented, controlled by corporatization, inflexible, and sterile.

On the other hand, many in the business world describe this phenomenon as “time theft” and see it in negative terms. They view time theft as a threat to productivity. So what we have here is a battle to determine how minutely workers’ time can be controlled. Here are some references from various perspectives:

1. The Urban Dictionary definition of time theft.

2. Jon Jacobs, on “Deconstructing Time Theft,” at JobsintheMoney.

3. William Atkinson on time theft, from the journal Risk Management (2006).

4. Barbara Ehrenreich on working for WalMart (2002).

5. An article on an art installation inspired by De Certeau, titled La Perruque (from a San Franciso city guide in 2001).

Happy reading! Hopefully these sources will help bring to life De Certeau’s abstract concepts.

Benjamin and the Frankfurt School

Here are some items relevant to our reading and discussion of T.W. Adorno:

1. First off, the Marxists Internet Archive (MIA) supplies some useful contextual information about the so-called Frankfurt School and its best-known contributors.

Walter Benjamin

2. Secondly, a very well-known and important scholar associated with the Frankfurt School, Walter Benjamin, is referenced in our Adorno reading. The relevant work by Benjamin, a famed essay titled “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” can be found at MIA. Adorno and Benjamin are not interchangeable thinkers, but can be seen as usefully complementing if not contradicting one another.

Ways of Seeing

3. Thirdly, also in connection with Benjamin, the 1972 BBC television series Ways of Seeing (which also led to a book of the same name) was greatly inspired by the work of Benjamin, particularly the aforementioned “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” Hosted and largely written by John Berger, this TV series has been very influential. Here FYI, via YouTube, is an excerpt:

The chief questions in play for our Frankfurt School scholars were, is mass culture revolutionary in its potential? And, if so, why is it so often reactionary in its effects?

Something is provided for all, so that none may escape

Courtesy of the Marxists Internet Archive (http://www.marxists.org), Adorno & Horkheimer’s classic and very influential essay, “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception” (1944), is available online.

Essential stuff for students of popular culture! Please read this ASAP.

You may also be interested in the Institute of Social Research at Frankfurt University, where Horkheimer and Adorno began their classic work.

S(t)imulations

Fake for Real

With Ewen’s “Chosen People” essay in mind, here are some possibly related sites that I found of interest:

The consumer-oriented blogsite productdose.com tells you “How to Spot a Fake Rolex.”

Some companies are proud of their replicas, or “fakes.” Take for instance the Swiss Replica Store. Or consider ReplicaEstore, which proudly claims that its replica handbags (faux Louis Vuittons, etc.) are “virtually indistinguishable from the designer originals in every way” and therefore the best replicas on the market.

Koert van Mensvoort notes that his game Fake for Real, a playful commentary on the “fakes” industry and the rage for authenticity, has been sued out of the market by…Louis Vuitton!

The Fine Art of Manipulation

Without endorsing, let me simply point you to the following websites that may be of interest to students of retail design:

http://www.icravedesign.com

High-end retail design with extraordinary chutzpah. Check out their “Mission Statement.”

http://retailtrafficmag.com/design/trends

Retail Traffic online magazine reports on retail design trends. Timely.

Also, dig this “classic” in the field of retail studies: Paco Underhill’s Why We Buy.

BTW, as a reminder, the instructions for the Retail Analysis assignment are up and available at this page. Check ’em out.

And perhaps the Starbucks Missi0n Statement will be relevant to our in-class discussions?