This Thing of Ours: Investigating the Sopranos

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Columbia University Press, 2002 - Performing Arts - 285 pages
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In a first-season episode of The Sopranos, Tony Soprano is once again in conflict with his uncle Carrado "Junior" Soprano. Tony is in no mood for conciliation, but neither is Junior, who warns his nephew not to return unless he is armed: "Come heavy," he insists, "or not at all."

As a work of popular culture, a ground-breaking television series, and a cultural phenomenon, The Sopranos always "comes heavy," not just with weaponry but with significance. The cultures of the United States, Great Britain and Canada, Australia, and even Italy (where it premiered in the spring of 2001) have come under its influence and contributed to the cultural conversation about it. Talk, discourse, about The Sopranos has migrated far beyond the water cooler, and not all of it has been praise.

David Chase's The Sopranos has also received starkly contradictory critical assessments. In the eyes of Ellen Willis (whose seminal essay in The Nation is reprinted in this volume), for example, the HBO series is "the richest and most compelling piece of television -- no, of popular culture -- that I've encountered in the past twenty years... a meditation on the nature of morality, the possibility of redemption, and the legacy of Freud." Others have condemned it for racial and sexist stereotypes, excessive violence, and profanity. These eighteen essays consider many facets of The Sopranos: its creation and reception, the conflicting roles of men and women, the inner lives of the characters, obesity, North Jersey, the role of music, and even how food contributes to the story.

 

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Contents

Our Mobsters Ourselves
2
David Chase The Sopranos and Television Creativity
18
A Canadian Experience of The Sopranos
32
Weight
72
One for the Boys? The Sopranos and Its Male British Audience
95
livia and
109
Television Tarantino and the Intimate
124
Negotiating Female Narrative Authority
146
Music for Sopranos
162
The Cultural Geography and Media
178
Language and Silence in HBOs The Sopranos
195
APPENDICES
229
A Family History
254
Bibliography
269
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About the author (2002)

David Lavery is a professor of English at Middle Tennessee State University. He is the author, editor, or co-editor of several books, including Deny All Knowledge: Reading The X-Files; Full of Secrets: Critical Approaches to Twin Peaks; Late for the Sky: The Mentality of the Space Age; Fighting the Forces: What's at Stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Teleparody: Predicting/Preventing the TV Discourse of Tomorrow. He lives in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

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