Popular Culture

We cannot attribute any purity of political expression to popular culture, although we can locate its power to identify ideas and desires that are relatively opposed, alongside those that are clearly complicit, to the official culture.

-- Andrew Ross, No Respect: Intellectuals and Popular Culture

We weren't philosophers, we were perverts.

--Howard Stern, Private Parts

Popular culture has been defined as everything from "common culture," to "folk culture," to "mass culture." While it has been all of these things at various points in history, in Post-War America, popular culture is undeniably associated with commercial culture and all its trappings: movies, television, radio, cyberspace, advertising, toys, nearly any commodity available for purchase, many forms of art, photography, games, and even group "experiences" like collective comet-watching or rave dancing on ecstasy. While humanities and social science departments before the 1950s would rarely have imagined including anything from the previous list in their curricula, it is now widely acknowledged that popular culture can and must be analyzed as an important part of US material, economic and political culture. "Pop culture" is also one of the US' most lucrative export commodities, making everything from Levi's jeans to Sylvester Stallone movies popular on the international market.

It would be impossible to do an exhaustive (or even a not-so-exhaustive) survey of all the work being done in and on popular culture, so we have included only representative examples of both. Our bibliographies and links focus on major figures in popular writing and basic categories of popular media after the war.



  • The Media History Project
    Promoting the study of media from petroglyphs to pixels. An excellent resource for scholars and media history buffs, with links and information on contemporary media as well as early and print media.

  • FCC Home Page
    The Federal Communications Commission online. A surprisingly rich resource, with daily changes in links to speeches, recent legislation, "headlines," and various FCC departments. Especially important if you're interested in government regulation of the media.


  • Society For Cinema Studies
    An academic organization devoted to the study of film. Includes information about their annual conference, job listings, and other points of interest for film scholars.

  • Internet Movie Database
    Simply the biggest and the best film encyclopedia online. Includes cross-referenced film data, from actors and directors to plot summaries and studios. Plus other relevant information like box office grosses and release dates.

  • Box Office Statistics in Millions of Dollars
    Calculates domestic, overseas, and worldwide grosses on any film or range of films.

  • Bibliographical Aid for Film Research
    Practical bibliographical material on film in general, with a special focus on the relationship between literature and film.

  • SCREENsite
    For the study of film and television, with extensive listings of educational and research resources. Very user friendly and international in scope.

  • Drew's Scripts-o-Rama
    An index of over 600 scripts from TV and movies available on the Internet.

  • Scary Women
    Female monsters and fiends in American film.

  • Shock Cinema
    Guide to bizarre films and videos from the cult underground. Great links.

  • Really Disturbing and Vile Movies
    List of cult gore and violence films, complete with reviews and a "rating system."

  • The Cult Shop's "Dystopia: Movies for a Dark Future"
    Great resource and filmography about this popular postwar cinematic genre.

  • Amazing World of Cult Movies
    Many excellent reviews of weird cinematic narratives. Also includes the indispensible "Exploitation Index."

  • Ground Zero Godzilla
    Obviously essential for any film scholar interested in post-war nuclear holocaust allegory. Warning: this site makes gratuitous use of giant graphics and frames, so if you don't have a fast connection, you may be waiting for a while to see all your favorite giant monsters.


  • TV Link
    Huge and well-organized index of links relating to television (and some film). Includes studios, individual shows, and archives. This is a good place to start any TV-related research project.

  • TV Guide Entertainment Network
    It's TV Guide online, with lots of snappy and current TV information, plus extra stuff on sports and music.

  • Cult TV Episode Guide
    Links to episode guides online for cult shows from The X-Files to Starsky and Hutch.

  • Nielsen Ratings for TV
    Nielsen ratings, updated weekly, plus an archive of past weekly ratings.

  • Multichannel News Online
    The definitive weekly source for cable TV and telecommunications news. Links with many cable resources, as well as relevant articles on cable TV. Cable TV is the future of television, and the future of television studies.

  • Ultimate TV
    Daily news about everything related to television from Los Angeles.

  • MZTV Museum of Television
    From France, this nonprofit organization aims to deal with "the technological history of the TV receiver." Includes a "virtual gallery" which is informative and beautifully designed.

Popular Fiction

  • Publisher's Weekly Bestseller Lists
    Features several bestseller lists, from children's lit. to mass market paperbacks. You can also search the bestseller list database.

  • Book Wire
    Information on contemporary books and the book industry. Also hosts several trade journals, as well as the BookInfo database, which includes reviews and "author event" dates.

  • Romance Novel Database
    Comprehensive database, with reviews. Grouped helpfully by subgenre.

  • Pulp Fiction Magazine Covers
    A gallery of images from the 1950s and 1960s.


  • Graham's Tom Clancy Shrine
    Devoted to everything Tom Clancy, master of the contemporary techno political/military thriller.

  • John Irving
    Fan page with works, biographical sketch, bibliography, and more.

  • Erica Jong
    Erica's official site, with reviews, book lists, and "Erica's weekly tips for writers."

  • Cormac McCarthy
    From the Cormac McCarthy Society, an extensive series of links, a bibliogrpahy, and information about the author. Also links to the Cormac McCarthy Journal.

  • James Michener
    The author's own site, with bio-bibliography and links.

  • Mario Puzo
    Author of The Godfather. This site catalogues his books, biography, filmograpahy, etc.

  • Anne Rice
    Official Rice homepage. With lists of her books, interviews, plus all the latest information on what the Queen of Gothic is doing with her writing, her fans, and her money. Plus, buy Anne Rice merchandise!

  • Stephen King Good annotated bibliography of King's major works.

  • Louis L'Amour, the Unofficial Tribute
    Fans of L'Amour provide hotlinks, reviews, and a short biography of this renowned author of dozens of Westerns.

  • Michael Crichton
    Very slick and corporate, which is perfect for this master of suspenseful novels about the ins and outs of corporate culture and US economic nationalism.

Journals, Magazines, and Publications

  • Animation Journal
    Scholarly journal of animation history and theory.

  • Bright Lights Film Journal
    A popular-academic hybrid of movie analysis, history, and commentary.

  • Film Threat
    "Hollywood's indie voice" is a free weekly with reviews, commentary, and coverage of film industry events.

  • Advertising Age
    The magazine for commerce culture.

  • Entertainment Weekly
    Very slick and yet also very smart magazine covering everything from music and movies, to new media and books. Our theory is that a lot of former academics write for this magazine. Highly recommended.

  • The Village Voice
    Founded by Norman Mailer in 1955, this is one of the oldest alternative weekies in the United States. The Voice covers news and culture which aren't quite mainstream.

  • Boston Phoenix
    Highly respected arts and entertainment newspaper with added bonus of extensive coverage of the queer community.

  • People Magazine
    Everybody wants some tabloid once in a while. If you want pop culture, you can't get much cheesier than this. Weekly coverage of celebrities and their tribulations

  • Rolling Stone
    The famous rock magazine online.

  • HotWired
    Wired Magazine online, and it's much, much better. Covers new media and cyberculture, and includes daily updates which do not appear in the magazine. Also sponsors the web satire zine Suck.

  • LA Times Book Review
    Great resource for contemporary reviews of new writing.

  • New York Times Book Review
    You have to "subscribe" to get to this site, but the subscription doesn't cost money if you live in the USA.

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