Cultural Studies, Critical Theory, and Philosophy

Nicholas Greco: David Bowie in Darkness

I think lots of our celebrities are ‘writerly’ texts. When we read them we rewrite them as well... Bowie died in January of last year but he’s alive because I’m listening to him and rewriting him, recreating him, and in many ways I’m resurrecting him as well every time I put that record on.
Nicholas Greco

Nicholas Greco discusses his book David Bowie in Darkness: A Study of 1. Outside and the Late Career with Chris Richardson. Greco is Associate Professor of Communications and Media at Providence University College in Otterburne, Manitoba. Dr. Greco’s doctoral dissertation explored the enigmatic star image and the nature of fan desire in the case of British singer Morrissey. He is interested in the nature of celebrity, the construction of masculinity and the sacramental nature of the televisual work of Joss Whedon. His latest book is called David Bowie in Darkness: A Study of 1. Outside and the Late Career (published by McFarland and Company in 2015). He lives in Southern Manitoba with his wife and daughter.

Recommended READINGS

This was one of my first forays into Roland Barthes as a theorist and structuralist/post-structuralist. It is not an easy read: there are times while reading when I questioned what Barthes was trying to do. But once I got used to his precise way of looking at language and how narrative was playing out, it really carried me along. In many ways, this is a formidable work, showing what a detailed analysis can look like (though I wouldn’t want to do something like this today).

If you’re interested in a deeply personal and theoretical look into what goes on in the cultural process of taking photographs, looking at photographs and being the subject of photographs, then this is the book for you. It wrests the ideal of photography from only practitioners—that is, the “takers” of photographs.

Williams’ book is an excellent starting point when wanting to know more about “culture and society” (as its title suggests, “a vocabulary of culture and society”). Williams attempts to give concise and clear definitions for common terms that academics often use. My go-to pages are the entries on “Communication,” “Media,” and “Culture.”

This is a very big book, and I have not read it all. But the parts that I have read have not failed to pique my interest. There is so much in this volume that it can hardly be categorized. The blurb on the back of the book quotes Benjamin describing it as “the theatre…of all my struggles and all my ideas.” Plus, it looks good on a bookshelf!

Kristeva was an admirer of Roland Barthes. In her essay “How Does One Speak to Literature?” she looks at “literary practice” as the “process of meaning within language and ideology.” She engages heavily with Barthes here, basically going through his analytical project step by step. Importantly, though, she then engages with the idea of music, something we listen to, as a “text,” something which can be read.