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Christmas, Ideology and Popular Culture

Edited by Sheila Whiteley

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How do we understand Christmas? What does it mean? This book is a lively introduction to the study of popular culture through one central case study. It explores the cultural, social and historical contexts of Christmas in the UK, USA and Australia, covering such topics as fiction, film, television, art, newspapers and magazines, war, popular music and carols. Chapters explore the ways in which the production of meaning is mediated by the social and cultural activities surrounding Christmas (watching Christmas films, television, listening or engaging with popular music and carols), its relationship to a set of basic values (the idealised construct of the family), social relationships (community), and the ways in which ideological discourses are used and mobilised, not least in times of conflict, terrorism and war.

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Introduction (Sheila Whiteley)
1. The Invention of the English Christmas (John Storey)
2. Christmas and Religious Practice (Jennifer Rycenga)
3. Christmas Art, Christmas Cards (Sara M. Dodd)
4. Consumption, Coca-Colonisation, Cultural Resistance (George McKay)
5. A Family Christmas (Thom Swiss)
6. Reflections on a Jewish Childhood during Christmas (Gerry Bloustien)
7. Christmas and War (Christine Agius)
8. Christmas and the Media (Tara Brabazon)
9. Christmas No. 1s (Freya Jarman-Ivens)
10. Christmas and Romance (Sheila Whiteley)
11. Christmas Films (John Mundy)
12. Christmas Carols (Barry Cooper).

About the Author

Sheila Whiteley is Visiting Professor (Media) at the University of Brighton and author of Women and Popular Music (2000) and Too Much Too Young: Popular Music, Age and Gender (2005) and editor of Sexing the Groove: Popular Music and Gender (1997) and Queering the Popular Pitch (2006).


Do they know it's Christmas? Sheila Whiteley and the other contributors to Christmas, Ideology and Popular Culture certainly do. The book traces the construction of Christmas from pagan ritual to Christian celebration, where charity, compassion, and goodwill compete with unreal expectations, family tensions, and the suffering of those less fortunate. Taking the reader behind the facade of festive follies and family values to reveal the crass commercialism and corporate chicanery that have always been part of the mix, this book is a must read for anyone interested in exploring the meaning and contradictions of this global festival… and a great holiday gift to boot.
- Reebee Garofalo, University of Massachusetts Boston
This book represents an excellent addition to the literature on Christmas and Festivals. In particular it demonstrates the value of sustained attention to various forms of media and popular culture, including music, visual culture and cinema in the constitution and reconstitution of Christmas. Moreover, the historical perspective throws significant light on the ongoing changing nature of the performance of such significant events in the contemporary world.
- Professor Brian Longhurst, University of Salford
This is an absorbing collection of essays, and it makes an impressive job of introducing ideological issues in an accessible way. In covering such diverse topics as family and home, cards and carols, religious beliefs, shopping, Christmas chart hits, TV and films, each author presents the reader with thought-provoking insight into much that usually goes unquestioned.
- Professor Derek B. Scott, University of Leeds