Film studies professors launch pop culture book series

Film studies professors launch pop culture book series

"Torn Notebook," a sculpture on UNL's City Campus.
File photo | University Communications

“Quick Takes,” a new series of short books on popular culture topics edited by University of Nebraska-Lincoln professors Gwendolyn Audrey Foster and Wheeler Winston Dixon, launches March 17 with the publication of "Disney Culture" by John Wills and "Zombie Cinema" by Ian Olney.

Foster and Dixon are film studies professors in the Department of English. They will oversee at least 12 books in the series, to be published by Rutgers University Press over the next three years.

“Gwendolyn and I think about interesting topics that people might want to know about, and then we find the top experts in the field to write about it,” Dixon said. “It’s a bleeding-edge, major book series on pop culture.”

The “Quick Takes” books have been in the works for about two years. Loosely patterned after the British Film Institute’s Film Classics series, the “Quick Takes” books will range from 30,000 to 40,000 words, making them pocket-sized and readable in one sitting. Paperbacks and E-books will cost $17.95; cloth copies are priced at $65.

Gwendolyn Audrey Foster
Gwendolyn Audrey Foster

“They’re free of jargon, direct and accessible,” Dixon said. “We're aiming at college kids, pop culture fiends and the general public.”

"These are topics that are really important in the 21st century," Foster said. "The series is designed to introduce them to the widest possible audience.”

The first two books have been well received by critics.

In "Disney Culture," Wills, director of American Studies at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England, explores how Disney grew from a small animation studio to a global media giant. Critic Blair Davis describes "Disney Culture" as a “well written and thoroughly engaging overview” of the Disney Empire.

Wheeler Winston Dixon
Wheeler Winston Dixon

Olney is an associate professor of English at York College of Pennsylvania, who received his doctoral degree in English and Film Studies from Nebraska. In Zombie Cinema, he explores why the genre has captured the imagination of 21st century audiences. Critic Stephen Prince said “Zombie Cinema" is a "zesty tour through an amazingly prolific and popular contemporary film cycle.”

Future volumes will feature rock-and-roll movies, action movies and comic-book movies, among other topics. "Digital Music Videos" by Steven Shaviro of Wayne State University in Detroit, and "New African Cinema" by Valérie K. Orlando of the University of Maryland are due to be released in April. The book series will be showcased at the Society for Cinema & Media Studies March 22-26 in Chicago.