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The Time of Our Lives

Dirty Dancing and Popular Culture

edited by Siân Lincoln and Yannis Tzioumakis

Film Theory and Criticism, Media Studies, Popular Culture

Published: March 2013
ISBN: 9780814336243
Pages: 352 Size: 6 x 9
Illustrations: 20 b&w illus.
Published: March 2013
ISBN: 9780814336250
Pages: 352 Size: EPUB
Illustrations: 20 b&w illus.

This superb collection convinces one of Dirty Dancing's transcendent value as a work that has achieved something more significant than simply a cult following: it has entered the realm of popular reminiscence and rite-of-passage for people (especially women) the world over.

— Frances Gateward

A low-budget independent film made by a now defunct video company in the late 1980s, Dirty Dancing became a sleeper hit with a huge, primarily young audience. Even twenty-five years on, the film has found millions of devoted fans around the world through TV, video, and DVD releases. In The Time of Our Lives: Dirty Dancing and Popular Culture editors Yannis Tzioumakis and Siân Lincoln bring together leading scholars of film, media, music, culture, theater, dance, and sociology to examine for the first time the global cultural phenomenon of Dirty Dancing.

Tzioumakis and Lincoln begin by assessing Dirty Dancing's cultural impact in the decades since its release and introduce contributors in four sections. Essays in "Dirty Dancing in Context" look at the film from several perspectives, including its production and distribution history, its blending of genres, its treatment of race, and its place in the political and visual culture of the 1980s. In "Questions of Reception," contributors examine the many ways that the film has been received since its release, while those in "The Production of Nostalgia" focus on the film's often critiqued production of an idealized past. Finally, contributors in "Beyond the Film" examine the celebrated synergies that the film achieved in the "high concept" film environment of the 1980s, and the final two essays deal with the successful adaptation of the film for the stage.

With the enormous cultural impact it has made over the years, Dirty Dancing offers many opportunities for thought-provoking analysis. Fans of the movie and students and scholars of cultural, performance, and film history will appreciate the insight in The Time of Our Lives.

Yannis Tzioumakis is senior lecturer in communication and media at the University of Liverpool. He is the author and editor of five books, most recently Hollywood's Indies: Classics Divisions, Specialty Labels and the American Film Market, and co-editor of the American Indies book series. Siân Lincoln is senior lecturer in media studies at Liverpool John Moores University. She has recently published her first book, Youth Culture and Private Space, and is working on her second, Rethinking Youth Cultures: A Critical Introduction.

Contributors Include:
Cynthia Baron, Mark Bernard, Richard Dyer, Jane Feuer, Pamela Church Gibson, Oliver Gruner, Amanda Howell, Siân Lincoln, Tamar Jeffers MacDonald, Tim McNelis, Claire Molloy, Gary Needham, Bill Osgerby, Hilary Radner, George Rodosthenous, Millie Taylor, Yannis Tzioumakis, Frederick Wasser

This superb collection convinces one of Dirty Dancing's transcendent value as a work that has achieved something more significant than simply a cult following: it has entered the realm of popular reminiscence and rite-of-passage for people (especially women) the world over. For fans who have grown to love the film, this book provides much background and analysis without the dreaded academese that sucks the life out of pleasurable texts; and for those in the academy who wonder if women-centered texts remain doomed to be forever overlooked in favor of more 'obviously' serious, male-dominated event pictures, this volume provides welcome testimony to the vibrancy of film and cultural studies and its ability to take seriously the world of women's entertainment and women's inner lives.

– Frances Gateward, Department of Cinema and Television Arts, California State University–Northridge

Aiming to address this gap in scholarship, Yannis Tzioumakis and Sian Lincoln have assembled 16 original essays examining the status of Dirty Dancing as a musical and a nostalgia text. Perhaps more unexpected, but no less relevant, the volume explores Dirty Dancing as an independent film and transmedia phenomenon. The editors are to be praised for having located essays from key scholars of popular cinema. In addition to Richard Dyer and Jane Feuer, who provide contributions on the Hollywood musical, Tamar Jeffers McDonald – a key theorist of the romantic comedy – discusses the generic hybridity of Dirty Dancing. Additionally, Pamela Church-Gibson explores the film’s use of costume, while Hilary Radner examines its gender politics. Contributions from significant scholars of popular cinema, alongside other less well-known researchers, position The Time of Our Lives as the defining volume on Dirty Dancing – the film’s academic coming of age.

– Frances Smith, New Review of Film and Television Studies

I had always thought Dirty Dancing one of the most interesting and important films of the 1980s. I had no idea just how interesting or important until I read this collection, a timely reconsideration of a film that, while hardly forgotten, has not previously received its critical or scholarly due.

– David R. Shumway, professor of English at Carnegie-Mellon University and author of John Sayles

As the one scholarly look at Dirty Dancing, this very readable collection will attract students or faculty engaged in media studies, the general reader interested in film history, and fans of the film or its subsequent live stage show.

– Angela Colmenares, Journal of American Culture