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Rupturing Rhetoric - The Politics of Race and Popular Culture since Ferguson

Rupturing Rhetoric

The Politics of Race and Popular Culture since Ferguson

Edited by Byron B Craig, Patricia G. Davis, and Stephen E. Rahko
Series: Race, Rhetoric, and Media Series

Hardcover : 9781496852335, 240 pages, 15 b&w illustrations, July 2024
Paperback : 9781496852328, 240 pages, 15 b&w illustrations, July 2024
Expected to ship: 2024-07-15
Expected to ship: 2024-07-15

How popular media reinforce and resist the false narrative of postracialism


Contributions by Maksim Bugrov, Byron B Craig, Patricia G. Davis, Peter Ehrenhaus, Whitney Gent, Christopher Gilbert, Oscar Giner, J. Scott Jordan, Euni Kim, Melanie Loehwing, Jaclyn S. Olson, A. Susan Owen, Stephen E. Rahko, Nick J. Sciullo, Arthur D. Soto-Vásquez, and Erika M. Thomas

The events surrounding the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, marked a watershed moment in US history. Though this instance of police brutality represented only the latest amid decades of similar unjust patterns, it came to symbolize state complicity in the deployment of violence to maintain racial order. Rupturing Rhetoric: The Politics of Race and Popular Culture since Ferguson responds to the racial rhetoric of American popular culture in the years since Brown's death. Through close readings of popular media produced during the late Obama and Trump eras, this volume details the influence of historical and contemporary representations of race on public discourse in America.

Using Brown’s death and the ensuing protests as a focal point, contributors argue that Ferguson marks the rupture of America’s postracial fantasy. An ideology premised on colorblindness, the notion of the “postracial” suggests that the United States has largely achieved racial equality and that race is no longer a central organizing category in American society. Postracialism is partly responsible for ahistorical, romanticized narratives of slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and American exceptionalism. The legitimacy of this fantasy, the editors contend, was the first casualty of the tanks, tear gas, and rubber bullets wielded against protesters during the summer of 2014. From these protests emerged a new political narrative organized around #BlackLivesMatter, which directly challenged the fantasy of a postracial American society.

Essays in Rupturing Rhetoric cover such texts as Fresh Off the Boat; Hamilton; The Green Book; NPR’s American Anthem; Lovecraft Country; Disney remakes of Dumbo, The Lion King, and Lady and the Tramp; BlacKkKlansman; Crazy Rich Asians; The Hateful Eight; and Fences. As a unified body of work, the collection interrogates the ways contemporary media in American popular culture respond to and subvert the postracial fantasy underlying the politics of our time.


"This book helps make sense of the last half-decade plus in US politics and culture, filling out what ‘postrace’ means in the post-Ferguson environment and how culture is grappling with it."

- Paul Elliot Johnson, author of I the People: The Rhetoric of Conservative Populism in the United States

"Rupturing Rhetoric joins important ongoing scholarly dialogues and moves us toward clear-headed and sobering insights about the stakes of postrace at the present moment as well as for the future."

- Roopali Mukherjee, coeditor of Racism Postrace and professor of race, media, and communication at UMass Amherst