Department of English, College of LAS, University of Illinois

Illinois Department of English Blog


Welcome to the Department of English blog.

My name is Vicki Mahaffey and I took over as
head of the department on July 1, 2016. I'll be using this site to post updates and information of interest to our faculty, students, and alumni,
along with reflections about our discipline(s) in particular and the humanities in general. As anyone who has ever worked or studied here knows, the Department of English is a vibrant place. If you have something you'd like to see posted here, or if you want to contact me about the content of this blog, drop me an email at

Friday, February 22, 2013

Mad Men, Mad World.

On a less squirrely note...

I'm told that the much-anticipated volume Madman, Madworld: Sex Politics, Style & the 1960s is now officially in print. This appropriately stylish volume is published by Duke University Press, and co-edited by Lauren Goodlad (English, and also Director of UIUC's Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory), Lilya Kaganovsky (Slavic, Comparative Literature, and Media & Cinema Studies) and Robert Rushing (Italian and Comparative Literature).

Here is the book description, pasted in from the Duke UP website:

"Since the show's debut in 2007, Mad Men has invited viewers to immerse themselves in the lush period settings, ruthless Madison Avenue advertising culture, and arresting characters at the center of its 1960s fictional world. Mad Men, Mad World is a comprehensive analysis of this groundbreaking TV series. Scholars from across the humanities consider the AMC drama from a fascinating array of perspectives, including fashion, history, architecture, civil rights, feminism, consumerism, art, cinema, and the serial format, as well as through theoretical frames such as critical race theory, gender, queer theory, global studies, and psychoanalysis.

In the introduction, the editors explore the show's popularity; its controversial representations of race, class, and gender; its powerful influence on aesthetics and style; and its unique use of period historicism and advertising as a way of speaking to our neoliberal moment. Mad Men, Mad World also includes an interview with Phil Abraham, an award-winning Mad Men director and cinematographer. Taken together, the essays demonstrate that understanding Mad Men means engaging the show not only as a reflection of the 1960s but also as a commentary on the present day."

The list of contributors is pretty impressive, too (in addition to local luminaries Goodlad, Kaganovsky, and Rushing, who co-authored the introduction and who each contributed a chapter):  Michael Bérubé, Alexander Doty, Jim Hansen, Dianne Harris, Lynne Joyrich, Clarence Lang, Caroline Levine, Kent Ono, Dana Polan, Leslie Reagan, Mabel Rosenheck, Irene Small, Michael Szalay, and Jeremy Varon.

Goodlad, in anticipation of the publication of this volume, has also been running a series of commentaries on Mad Men on Kritik, the online "public forum on theory, culture, and politics hosted by the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory."  You can find them by searching Kritik for yourself or by just clicking here.

If you are interested in Mad Men, or even if you are just interested in seeing how smart, theoretically informed scholars take up a contemporary popular cultural artifact, I recommend this volume.

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