Paradise Remade: The Politics of Culture and History in Hawaii

Elizabeth Buck

Using Marxist and Foucauldian theory Buck deconstructs the dominant myth of “Hawaii.” That is, she tells a history, not necessarily the history, of the islands from before contact with the West to the current resurgence of Hawaiian nationalism. While not a musicological text, Paradise Remade focuses on chant, hula and Hawaiian music as a way of “reading” the history of Hawaii. Music in general, and chants in particular, function as a continuing site of resistance—words and meanings being “the only things that Westerners could not appropriate” from Hawaiians. Paradise Remade is a heavily academic work, yet Buck does an admirable job of presenting the underlying theories in a manner that the general public can understand. Nevertheless, pleasure readers may find themselves wishing for a less analytical and more narrative style, as the fascinating subject matter is somewhat overwhelmed by its deeply theoretical framework. LP

Publisher: Temple University
Paperback: 242 pages

Death in the Dining Room and Other Tales of Victorian Culture

Kenneth C. Ames

American values in Victorian times—the first Industrial Age culture to be mass produced—as told through their household furnishings. Explores the conflicts of that radically changing age as it was coded, commoditized and commercialized into the goods of the material world. “Culture pervades life in the form of things, behaviors, ideas, laws, morals and opinions. At its most effective, it is stealthy, lurking where we do not expect it… People in Victorian America were deeply conflicted over most of the central issues that occupy human societies—issues of power and power relations, the distribution of wealth and resources, gender roles and expectations… “
This moral ambivalence, especially toward nature, enters the Victorian vocabulary of design. Examines four major themes: entry hall styles (lots of mirrors, every hall an entry to a man’s Versailles); dining room furnishings (dining-room sideboards were often decorated with the spoils of human predation—hanging fowl, fishes and dead stags); framed mottoes (“Consider the Lilies,” “Touch Not, Taste Not, Handle Not,” etc.—”God Bless Our Home” was No. 1); and the exalted status of the parlor reed organ (the altar in a shrine to the conquering civilization). GR

Publisher: Temple University
Paperback: 265 pages

Xuxa: The Mega-Marketing of Gender, Race and Modernity

Amelia Simpson

“Xuxa (SHOO-sha), a former Playboy model and soft-porn movie actress, is Brazil’s mass-media megastar whose children’s television show reaches millions of people in Latin America and the United States. Simpson explores how the blond sex symbol emerged in the 1980s to become a cultural icon of extraordinary authority throughout the Americas… In exploring the meaning behind the myth that is Xuxa, the author examines the ingredients of her stardom, including her long-term relationship with Brazil’s soccer idol, Pelé, and the careful manufacture of a sexually suggestive style juxtaposed with juvenile entertainment.”

Publisher: Temple University
Paperback: 238 pages