Books

Hitchcock and Adaptation: On the Page and Screen. Rowman & Littlefield, 2014.

Hitchcock Cover

From early silent features like The Lodger and Easy Virtue to his final film, Family Plot, in 1976, most of Alfred Hitchcock’s movies were adapted from plays, novels, and short stories. Hitchcock collaborated with those who would not just execute his vision but shape it, and many of the screenwriters he enlisted–including Eliot Stannard, Charles Bennett, John Michael Hayes, and Ernest Lehman–worked with the director more than once. And of course Hitchcock’s wife, Alma Reville, his most constant collaborator, was with him from the 1920s until his death.

In Hitchcock and Adaptation: On the Page and Screen, Mark Osteen has assembled a wide-ranging collection of essays that explore how Hitch and his screenwriters transformed literary and theatrical sources into masterpieces of cinema. Some of the essays view adaptations through a specific lens, such as Queer aesthetics in Rope, Strangers on a Train, and Psycho, while others investigate Hitchcock as author, auteur, adapter and, for the first time, as a literary source. Films discussed in this volume include Sabotage, The 39 Steps, Shadow of a Doubt, Lifeboat, Rear Window, Vertigo, Marnie, and Frenzy. The final set of essays analyzes Hitchcock-inspired works by W. G. Sebald, Don DeLillo, and Bret Easton Ellis, among others.

These close examinations of Alfred Hitchcock and the creative process illuminate the significance of the material to which he turned for inspiration, celebrate the men and women who helped to bring his vision from the page to the screen, and explore how the director has influenced contemporary writers. A fascinating look into an underexplored aspect of the director’s working methods, Hitchcock and Adaptation will be of interest to film scholars and fans of cinema’s most gifted auteur.

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                                 Nightmare Alley: Film Noir and the American Dream. Publisher: Johns Nightmare Alley CoverHopkins University Press (2013)

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Desperate young lovers on the lam (They Live by Night), a cynical con man making a fortune as a mentalist (Nightmare Alley), a penniless pregnant girl mistaken for a wealthy heiress (No Man of Her Own), a wounded veteran who has forgotten his own name (Somewhere in the Night)—this gallery of film noir characters challenges the stereotype of the wise-cracking detective and the alluring femme fatale. Despite their differences, they have something in common: a belief in self-reinvention. Nightmare Alley is a thorough examination of how film noir disputes this notion  at the heart of the American Dream.

Central to many of these films, Mark Osteen argues, is the story of an individual trying, by dint of hard work or, more often, illicit enterprise, to overcome his or her origins and achieve material success. In the wake of World War II, film noir tested the dream of upward mobility and the ideas of individuality, liberty, equality, and free enterprise and accompany it.

Employing an array of theoretical perspectives (including psychoanalysis, art history, feminism, and music theory), while combining close reading with original primary source research, Nightmare Alley proves both the diversity and potency of classic noir. This provocative and wide-ranging study revises and refreshing our understanding of noir’s characters, themes, and cultural significance.

“Only a few of the many books on noir are essential. This is one of them.” —Choice

“Mark Osteen manages to add something new and substantial to the discourse on film noir—an examination of the ways in which the American dream is subverted, challenged, and ultimately discounted by the harsh realities of a noir universe, which more directly aligns itself with society than with the phantom hope of endless upward mobility.” —Wheeler Winston Dixon, University of Nebraska.

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One of Us: A Family’s Life with Autism

Publisher: University of Missouri Press (2010)
Learn more at the One of Us Book Website >Praise for the book: 

“A brave dad’s honest diary of raising a son with severe autism who has difficulty learning basic skills. It should be read by psychologists, family therapists, and others who are helping families to cope.”– Temple Grandin, author of Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism

“Osteen writes with candor…occasionally heartbreaking, at times darkly humorous.” Publishers Weekly

“In this remarkable and honest memoir, Mark Osteen chronicles the complexities of raising a child with autism. His family struggles with how to think about, and speak about, emotions so tender and powerful that even the joys of Cameron’s incremental victories are fragile. Happiness, for Osteen, is a “quartz contentment,” in Emily Dickinson’s unusual phrase, protected inside, like a stone. In the inspiring conclusion of this masterful book, Osteen and his wife come to terms with their feelings as they begin to see Cameron as an individual, rather than an extension of themselves. The ironic and inspiring conclusion is that parents of a child with a disability, not only the child, ultimately need to stand alone and find their own identities.”—Roy Richard Grinker, author of Unstrange Minds: Remapping the World of Autism and Professor of Anthropology at George Washington University

Music at the Crossroads: Lives & Legacies of Baltimore Jazz
Publisher: Apprentice House (2010)
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The first book to chronicle and celebrate the rich jazz history of Baltimore, Music at the Crossroads presents lively profiles of legends like Billie Holiday, Eubie Blake, Cab Calloway, and Chick Webb, as well as analyses of neglected figures such as pianist Ellis Larkins, Gary Bartz, and legendary jazz educator and composer Hank Levy. The book’s first two sections present new interpretations and detailed outlines of these significant musicians’ lives. The final section illuminates the history of Baltimore’s jazz scene, from its heyday of Pennsylvania Avenue and the Left Bank Jazz Society, to the present day and beyond. The final section also includes a map of those Pennsylvania Avenue jazz clubs and a comprehensive list of Left Bank Jazz Society concerts. Informed by primary source research and enhanced by original and classic photographs, the book’s chapters are written by regional and national jazz journalists and musicians as well as by members of Loyola University’s unique Aperio program, in which students and professors collaborate to conduct and publish groundbreaking original research. Whether you’re looking for a factual guide, for new portraits of the lives and work of legendary musicians, or for reminiscences by those who made and heard the music, Music at the Crossroads: Lives and Legacies of Baltimore Jazz offers a feast for the mind, ears and eyes.

Autism and Representation
Publisher: Routledge (2008)
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Autism, a neuro-developmental disability, has received wide but often sensationalistic treatment in the popular media. Though a great deal of clinical and medical research has been devoted to autism, neither traditional humanities disciplines nor the new field of Disability Studies has had anything significant to say about it. This volume, the first scholarly book on autism and the humanities, brings scholars from several disciplines together with adults on the autism spectrum to investigate the diverse ways that autism has been represented in novels, poems, autobiographies, films and clinical discourses; it also explores the connections and demarcations between autistic and “neurotypical” creativity. Using an empathetic scholarship that unites professional rigor with experiential knowledge derived from the contributors’ lives with or as autistic people, the essays address such questions as: In what novel forms does autistic creativity appear, and what unusual strengths does it possess? How do autistic representations—whether by or about autistic people—revise conventional ideas of cognition, creativity, language, (dis)ability and sociability? This timely and important collection breaks new ground in literary and film criticism, aesthetics, psychology and Disability Studies. It will surely appeal to anyone interested in autism and related disabilities, as well as to literary scholars, rhetoricians and film critics.

From the reviews:

“This book is an excellent resource for any scholar interested in disability studies and autism. It brings theory to bear on what may be called a cognitive disability, places the diagnosis of autism in a historical and cultural context, and addresses issues of representation (by self and other).” – Felice Aull, Literature, Arts and Medicine Database.

“. . . excellent. . . . Includes a range of voices well worth attending to. . . . Osteen offer[s] astute and sensitive appraisals of a wide range of novels, parental accounts and autobiographies.” – Michael Fitzpatrick, Spiked-online.com

“. . . redresses a major shortcoming in disability studies. . . . Autism and Representation represents a turning point and . . . what most distinguishes it is Osteen’s thematic preoccupation with ‘empathetic scholarship.'” – Chris Gabbard, Disability Studies Quarterly.

Question of the Gift: Essays Across Disciplines
Publisher: Routledge (2002)
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The Question of the Gift brings together scholars from a variety of fields, including anthropology, literary criticism, economics, philosophy, and classics, to provide new paradigms and pose new questions concerning the theory and practice of gift exchange. Offering exciting new ways of thinking about a universal phenomenon, this collection is sure to appeal to a broad interdisciplinary audience. The Question of the Gift is the first collection of new interdisciplinary essays on the gift. Each essay not only challenges the conventions of its field; each one combines ideas and methods from both the social sciences and the humanities to forge an innovative synthesis.In a culture awash in the rhetoric of self-interest, understanding the gift is more essential than ever, for the questions of the gift address essential issues in social life: How do non-commercial exchanges form and solidify communities? How do humans and objects interact outside of consumerism? What are the relationships between gifts and commodities? To what degree are artworks gifts? Is a truly free gift possible or even desirable? The Question of the Gift thus presents illuminating interdisciplinary perspectives that inspire us to live more ethically as well as more imaginatively.

American Magic and Dread: Don DeLillo’s Dialogue with Culture
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press (June 2000)
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From the reviews:

“Mark Osteen’s . . .  book offers an excellent overview of Don DeLillo’s novelistic career and deserves a careful reading by anyone interested in DeLillo.” – Theron Britt, Modern Fiction Studies

Reading DeLillo as both cultural critic and literary stylist, American Magic and Dread analyzes a novelist seeking an art of resistance and beauty. Like the subject of his book, Osteen shows us how literature’s magic can fortify us, albeit only partially, against the social forces in which we are enmeshed.” – Philip Nel, Studies in the Novel

There is much in Osteen’s reading of DeLillo’s work from Americana to Underworld that is to be admired. . . . [An] interest in representation and resistance is sustained throughout Osteen’s readings, often ingeniously so.” – Thomas Carmichael, Contemporary Literature

The New Economic Criticism
Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (May 5, 1999)
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Praise for The New Economic Criticism:

“It’s a wonderful collection, and the introduction puts the whole matter firmly, irrevocably on the agenda for literary and cultural studies. Brava.” – Deidre McCloskey, University of Iowa

“Finally-some evidence that it may be possible to get beyond literary critics playing with economic terminology as though it was a forbidden box of matches and economists congratulating themselves that they can be autodidacts in rhetoric just as easily as they find virtual markets in the souls of medieval serfs. In this volume economics meets cultural studies, and both sides actually listen to one another.” – Philip Mirowski, University of Notre Dame

White Noise: Text and Criticism.  Edited by Mark Osteen Publisher: Penguin (1998)
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Winner of the National Book Award in 1985, White Noise is the story of Jack and Babette and their children from their six or so various marriages. They live in a college town where Jack is Professor of Hitler Studies (and conceals the fact that he does not speak a word of German), and Babette teaches posture and volunteers by reading from the tabloids to a group of elderly shut-ins. They are happy enough until a deadly toxic accident and Babette’s addiction to an experimental drug make Jake question everything. White Noise is considered a postmodern classic and its unfolding of themes of consumerism, family and divorce, and technology as a deadly threat have attracted the attention of literary scholars since its publication. This Viking Critical Library edition, prepared by scholar Mark Osteen, is the only edition of White Noise that contains the entire text along with an extensive critical apparatus, including a critical introduction, selected essays on the author, the work and its themes, reviews, a chronology of DeLillo’s life and work, a list of discussion topics, and a selected bibliography.

The Economy of Ulysses: Making Both Ends Meet Publisher: Syracuse Univ Pr (Sd) (May 1995)
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**Winner of Donald Murphy Prize for Best First Book in Irish Studies, 1995

Praise for The Economy of Ulysses:

“It is hard to think of anything to do with economic questions that has been left out of . . . this brimming, bounteous book. . . . A notable example is his subtle and powerful reading of ‘Cyclops.’ . . . The insights of this chapter are carried forward into the brilliant discussions of the dynamics of cliche, fraudulence, and forgery in ‘Eumaeus.'” – Steven Conner, James Joyce Broadsheet

“Time and again, Osteen takes material that seems to have been exhausted in terms of further interpretation and significantly adds to one’s understanding of the work’s complexity.” – Michael Patrick Gillespie, James Joyce Quarterly

“Osteen’s arguably magisterial study of the economies of Ulysses both sheds new light on the problem of narrative and narration in Joyce’s text and redefines . . . the critical tradition surrounding it.” – Gregory Castle, English Literature in Transition

“Osteen’s grandly architectural approach to Joycean economics is powerfully complemented by a close reading of the text, and this combination assures that his book will be an indisputable starting point for anyone working with the rich systems of exchange, reciprocity and mutually constitutive realities in Joyce.” – Garry Leonard, James Joyce Literary Supplement