November 4, 1997
When bel hooks came to UCF in early October, the auditorium was packed: students, professors, and community members alike came together to hear her voice opposition to what she terms the "white/supremacist/capitalist patriarchy." I was, frankly, a bit shocked (but mostly comforted) to see so many Orlandoans interested in cultural studies, that is, interested in
re-examining and re-defining the sociology of our world: class lines, race divisions, sexist barriers.
So imagine my excitement when I learned another cultural studies guru, Gil Rodman, is coming to town on Friday, November 7 (7:30 p.m.; CB&S Bookstore; 382-1617) for a discussion about
his new book, Elvis After Elvis: The Posthumous Career of a Living Legend. And if the cover isn't some indication of what his study involves, check out this piece I ripped off from the book:
Jesus lived in a state of grace in a near eastern land. Elvis lived in Graceland in a nearly eastern state.
Elvis' father, Vernon, was a drifter and moved around quite a bit. Jesus' father is everywhere.
There is much confusion about Elvis' middle name - was it Aron or Aaron? There is much confusion about Jesus' middle name - what does the "H" stand for?
Aside from being cute, the comparison has some worth: it serves to simultaneously illustrate the seeming ridiculousness of Elvis worship (a point Rodman would argue is not so ludicrous) and address the need to figure out why the two figures should be compared. In his book, Rodman asserts that Elvis - in all his "ubiquity" - is a prime icon to help define what "American" means because "his myths are already present on the mythscape of post-WWII US culture." Rodman questions the notion that Elvis is a "butch god" and "cock rock" initiator; he challenges the title "The King of Rock 'n Roll" in a section exploring race issues; and he probes classist divisions - was Elvis a hard working country boy who found riches or merely "a transplanted redneck who wore his passion for schlock and tackiness like a badge of honor?"
I honestly couldn't care less about Elvis' music, but just being a member of this society necessitates that I know way more about him than I care to. He's everywhere. There's no getting around that - but the fact that Elvis' ubiquity matters is a cause Gil Rodman fascinatingly and convincingly proves. Call 382-1617 with questions about Rodman's appearance - ask for Kelle or Jodie.
I teach Composition at UCF while also studying for my Master's degree,
which should be completed--hopefully--before the turn of the century. In
the meantime I write for the Central Florida Hispanic (Education section)
and especially dig reading Lawrence Durrell.
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