Mad Men, Mad World

Sex, Politics, Style, and the 1960s

Mad Men, Mad World

Book Pages: 432 Illustrations: 97 illustrations Published: March 2013

American Studies, Cultural Studies, Media Studies > TV

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.

Contributors. Michael Bérubé, Alexander Doty, Lauren M. E. Goodlad, Jim Hansen, Dianne Harris, Lynne Joyrich, Lilya Kaganovsky, Clarence Lang, Caroline Levine, Kent Ono, Dana Polan, Leslie Reagan, Mabel Rosenheck, Robert A. Rushing, Irene Small, Michael Szalay, Jeremy Varon


Mad Men, Mad World's brilliance is that it analyzes storylines and characters from completely unexpected angles. . . . These are deeply considered pieces that truly spark intellectual discussion. It's a mad world, indeed, but this book helps to bring some order to the chaos.” — Natalie Papailiou, Shelf Awareness for Readers

“An interesting conversation.” — Candace Opper, Bitch

“The varying perspectives presented make this work useful supplemental reading for television critics, scholars, and researchers interested in deeper analysis of the show’s portrayal of 1960s culture.” — Kimberley Bugg, Library Journal

“There is much else in the book that I found interesting and useful in thinking about Mad Men, and I think it will be stimulating to readers outside the ranks of aca fandom.” — Scott McLemee, Inside Higher Ed

“Throughout the book are intelligent discussions dissecting the central themes addressed in the show, such as masculinity and feminism, identity, and race relations and representations. . . . [It] accomplishes the admirable feat of offering considerable critique and examination from a standpoint of admiration and fandom.” — Publishers Weekly

“Just as Mad Men charms its viewers by using sex, drugs, snappy banter, and pretty people to make heavy topics (sexism, racism, dreams diffused) palatable, the editors of Mad Men, Mad World trust that some TV glamour will get readers interested in digesting academic theories. It's not wrong. Full of dense, fascinating writing, Mad Men, Mad World, from Duke University Press, takes stock of ‘sex, politics, style & the 1960s’ in a series of essays by academics, theorizing about Mad Men.” — Diana Clarke, Village Voice

“A lot is packed into this volume, and nobody is likely to reach the end feeling shortchanged. . . . This is no giddy fanzine, to be sure, but for folks who take their Mad Men seriously it opens worthwhile paths of inquiry.” — James M. Keller, Santa Fe New Mexican

“Every essay contained in the book provides an analysis of salient diegetic features as it establishes a direct dialogue with other opinions consigned to the Anglo-American press and Web.” — Enrica Picarelli, International Journal of Communication

“These authors go deeper to find the origins of postmodernism or neoliberalism within the show’s text and much more. These essays show students how a drama can subtly reflect a historical period and engage public memory . . . . It will delight more advanced academic fans of the show.” — R. W. Morrow, Choice

Mad Men, Mad World is a rich, stimulating book, which is alert to its own identity as a piece of ‘fan ritual’ (p.23). It is much more than this, of course, because it is scholarly and theoretical, ?uent in a critical language that is coloured by an eclectic host of thinkers, from Jacques Lacan to Vance Packard.” — Edward Allen, Critical Quarterly

“[A] provocative intellectual challenge. . . . It takes an insightful look at the ability of television to translate the past in terms of the present and transform history into a contemporary commentary.” — Maurine H. Beasley, Journalism History

“This collection of essays provides illuminating insight into these intersections between media and history, while maintaining – as does the show – contemporary relevance…. Mad Men, Mad World makes a worthy contribution to the ever-growing field on Mad Men, and has broad appeal – especially for those academics who also identify as fans of the show.” — Chelsea Barnett, Media International Australia

Mad Men, Mad World would work for courses introducing more general topics: television criticism, cultural studies, and historical fiction.” — Rebecca Hill, American Studies

“... with its 16 chapters covering a broad range of angles by scholars from a range of disciplinary backgrounds, this anthology undoubtedly offers the most critical and comprehensive coverage of the wider cultural implications of this popular series.” — Annebella Pollen, Visual Studies

"I read this collection with enormous pleasure. The essays are smart, creative, and original. Writing on matters from TV technology to the history of advertising, and from the early civil rights movement to analogies between Jews and nineteenth-century dandies, the contributors illuminate what turns out to be a very rich and charismatic cultural object. I think that Mad Men, Mad World will make a real splash." — Bruce Robbins, author of Perpetual War: Cosmopolitanism from the Viewpoint of Violence

"The essays assembled in this collection pay careful, astute analytical attention to one of American television's most significant contemporary series. Deepening its approach far beyond that of standard appreciations of 'quality TV,' this book illuminates Mad Men’s complex, powerful engagement with capitalism, national identity, race, and gender at a time when these categories are so evidently in flux." — Diane Negra, coeditor of Interrogating Postfeminism: Gender and the Politics of Popular Culture

"What a treat for me to delve into this work with so much academic and intellectual rigor—I love it!" — Phil Abraham, director, , Mad Men


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Lauren M. E. Goodlad is University Scholar, Associate Professor of English, and Director of the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is the author of The Victorian Geopolitical Aesthetic: Realism, Sovereignty, and Transnational Experience (forthcoming) and a coeditor of Goth: Undead Subculture, also published by Duke University Press.

Lilya Kaganovsky is Associate Professor of Slavic, Comparative Literature, and Media & Cinema Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is the author of How the Soviet Man Was Unmade.

Robert A. Rushing is Associate Professor of Italian and Comparative Literature at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of Resisting Arrest: Detective Fiction and Popular Culture.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix
Introduction / Lauren M. E. Goodlad, Lilya Kaganovsky, Robert A. Rushing 1
Part I. Mad Worlds
1. Maddening Times: Mad Men in Its History / Dana Polan 35
2. Mad Space / Dianne Harris 53
3. Representing the Mad Margins of the Early 1960s: Northern Civil Rights and the Blues Idiom / Clarence Lange 73
4. After the Sex, What? A Feminist Reading of Reproductive History in Mad Men / Leslie J. Reagan 92
5. The Writer as Producer; or, The Hip Figure after HBO / Michael Szalay 111
Part II.Mad Aesthetics
6. The Shock of the Banal: Mad Men's Progressive Realism / Caroline Levine 133
7. Mod Men / Jim Hansen 145
8. Swing Skirts and Swinging Singles: Mad Men, Fashion, and Cultural Memory / Mabel Rosenheck 161
9. Against Depth: Looking at Surface through the Kodak Carousel / Irene V. Small 181
10. "It Will Shock You How Much This Never Happened": Antonioni and Mad Men / Robert A. Rushing 192
Part III. Made Men
11. Media Madness: Multiple Identity (Dis)Orders in Mad Men / Lynne Joyrich 213
12. "Maidenform": Masculinity as Masquerade / Lilya Kaganovsky 238
13. History Gets in Your Eyes: Mad Men, Misrecognition, and the Masculine Mystique / Jeremy Varon 257
14. The Homosexual and the Single Girl / Alexander Doty 279
15. Mad Men's Postracial Figuration of a Racial Past / Kent Ono 300
16. The Mad Men in the Attic: Seriality and Identity in the Modern Bablyon / Lauren M. E. Goodlad 320
Afterword. A Change Is Gonna Come, Same as It Ever Was / Michael Bérubé 345
Appendix A. A Conversation with Phil Abraham, Director and Cinematographer / Lauren M. E. Goodlad, Jeremy Varon, and Carl Lehnen 361
Appendix B. List of Mad Men Episodes 381
Contributors 411
Index 415
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5418-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5402-4
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