It’s no secret that fun is important to American college students, but it is unusual for scholars to pay attention to how undergraduates represent and reflect on their partying. Linguist and anthropologist Chaise LaDousa explores the visual manifestations of collegiate fun in a Midwestern college town where house signs on off-campus student residences are a focal point of college culture. With names like Boot 'N Rally, The Plantation, and Crib of the Rib, house signs reproduce consequential categories of gender, sexuality, race, and faith in a medium students say is benign. Through his analysis of house signs and what students say about them, LaDousa introduces the reader to key concepts and approaches in cultural analysis.
|A fascinating, surprising, and intriguing look at pervasive house signs in a Midwestern U.S. college town, this book will delight college students, appeal to those who teach them, and engage those who study them across several disciplines. It is a skillful analysis of contemporary material culture, its playfulness, creativity, and ambiguities. It is also a vivid example of the multiple ways in which people engage with signs (visual or verbal)--from assuming that they have obvious meanings to privileging particular interpretations ,and even to denying that signs have any meaning at all.A very lively read, one of those rare books that brings a sophisticated interpretive perspective together with ethnographic materials that are engaging, thought-provoking, and, for many of us and especially for our students, both experience-near and surprising. Good to read and think with, and likely to become, quite deservedly, a classic for undergraduate teaching.LaDousa presents weighty matters with intelligence and nuance, and yet always clearly, and with a wealth of data that generates a multitude of 'aha' moments.
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Table of Contents
Introduction "The Ivy League": House Signs and Their Display
1. "Bed, Booze, and Beyond": History and Ethnography of Collegiate Fun
2. "Witty House Name": The Textual Lives of House Signs
3. "Inn Pursuit"… of Christ: The Unevenness of Agency
4. "Ghetto Fabulous" and "Plantation": Racial Difference in a Space of Fun
5. "Hot Box," "Box Office," and "Fill Her Up": Reflections on Gender and Sexuality
Conclusion "Where the Sidewalk Ends": Remarks on Cultural Production and Ethnography