Earlier this week I mentioned the work of rural sociologist Mary Grigsby, who is writing a book on catfish noodling, with the tentative title of Fishing for Collective Identity—The Intersection of Gender and Class in the Identity Work of Rural Men and Women Noodlers. Melinda Speece suggested that we devote an Audience Participation Friday to the subject of “Mary Grigsby-esque” sociology topics (rural or otherwise) that are important but overlooked. I think that’s a great idea.
So here’s your APF assignment. Give us the title of the sociological monograph that you want to see written, and give us a brief summary of its content. Here’s mine:

“Stepping On It: The Origins of NASCAR in Southern Popular Culture”
In the 1970s, the pop culture contributions of the Southern white male revolved around the idea of rapid–and frequently motorized–escape from trouble and/or commitment. In popular music (e.g., The Allman Brothers’ “Ramblin Man,” Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Gimme Three Steps,” “Freebird,” “They Call Me the Breeze,” or almost any other of their songs), on television (e.g., “The Dukes of Hazzard”), in the movies (e.g., “Smoky and the Bandit”) the Southern Male’s state of perpetual flight serves as a metaphor for his existential angst amidst the changing mores of American society in general and Southern society in particular. This rootlessness and existential unease reach their apotheosis in stock car racing: unmoored from the narrative of rising danger and rapid escape, speed becomes an end in itself, forever circling, never arriving.

How about you? What are the monographs you’ve been wanting to see?

  • Anonymous
    12:40 AM, 20 May 2011

    “”Suckas Get Thrown in the Dungeon for Frontin’: Medieval Metaphors in Gangsta Rap”
    As Umberto Eco observed in his seminal essay, “Dreaming in the Middle Ages,” the medieval period offers a treasure trove of material to imaginative artists in every cultural niche.  One intriguing intersection of popular culture and the middle ages is the  use of medieval imagery by gangsta rappers.  Aside from the obvious similarities between a Hennessy-sipping, Glock-wielding, chrome-grilled thug and a mead-sipping, Excallibur-wielding knight blinged out with gifts from his hringweard, other, deeper connections also exist between thug culture and medieval culture.  This monograph examines how gangsta rappers use features  of medieval life to legitimize their own sociocultural behavior by situating themselves within a richer historical tradition.  Special attention is given to the many parallels between the medieval comitatus relationship described by  Tacitus and the ubiquitous gangsta practice of assembling a “posse” or “crew.”
    (Note: I thought I made this all up, but some judicious googling proves otherwise. Examples:http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/1uww
    http://www.amazon.com/Mehsias-Medallion-Medieval-Brenda-Walker/dp/0983171106 )

    • Jonathan Rogers
      12:44 AM, 20 May 2011

      Googling is always judicious. I probably should have googled my own, but I’m afraid of being proven unoriginal.

    • Jonathan Rogers
      12:46 AM, 20 May 2011

      P.S. I like the reference to an actual academic essay. Strong.

  • Melinda Speece
    1:19 PM, 20 May 2011

    Here’s one of great personal interest—
    Rock in My Pocket: the intersection of found objects and the dryer.

    Careful inspection of the top of the dryer in domestic units serving males ages 4-11 lifts the rug on the interests, habits, and field work of the aforementioned boys. A recent case study of one dryer top revealed two bouncy balls, one tennis ball, 14 legos (including R2-D2’s head), $.14 in pennies, enough rocks to chase off a small dog, a 1:25 scale Hummer, and a small wrench. This packed-pocket phenomenon (coupled with mom’s inability to remember to check the pockets BEFORE washing and drying) has led to a lucrative subindustry of how-to books and blogs instructing laundry workers in the removal of cherry chap-stick, blue ink, and melted black crayon from clothes.

    • Jonathan Rogers
      1:04 PM, 25 May 2011

      That male 4-11 demographic is tough on dryers, Melinda. From the looks of most of my shirts, however (lots of large blue blots in the breast pocket area), the male 35-45 demographic isn’t doing much better.

  • Aaron Roughton
    2:00 PM, 20 May 2011

    Cycles Of Insanity:  Radio’s Rise And Fall…And Subsequent Rise Again…As Popular Culture’s Choice For Musical Entertainment
    Quote from Robroy McCracken, radio hater:

    “I wasn’t happy with the radio.  Too many commercials, they play like one good song an hour, and talk, talk, talk.  So I got a computer and put all my favorite music on it.  Then I could take all my music with me everywhere in my iPod.  I controlled it, and there were no commercials.  But sometimes coming up with playlists was too difficult, so I decided to use my computer to randomly generate playlists.  They were more creative than what I would have come up with.  But sometimes I wished I had access to more music than what was on my computer.  So I found Pandora.  It’s free, and I can build streams of music based upon the music I like.  Granted, I don’t have complete control over the music anymore, but it’s wonderful when I don’t have all of the songs I would like to listen to in one place.  Of course, I want it to stay free, and in order to do that Pandora has had to add some commercials.  But that’s ok.  So now I have a genre based formatted streaming transmission of popular music interspersed with commercials.  In your FACE radio.”

    • Jonathan Rogers
      1:05 PM, 25 May 2011

      Aaron, I’m thinking about putting together a Pandora-like thing that is all Chuck Norris jokes all the time. Looking for investors now. You in?

  • Charles Atkinson
    2:52 PM, 20 May 2011

    “Nihilism for Dummies: A Study of its Tenants, Doctrines, And Most Important Discoveries” by Nemo Oudeis.
    Desciption: “

    • Jonathan Rogers
      12:59 AM, 25 May 2011

      Charles, how did I miss your Nihilism for Dummies post? This is hilarious. 

  • Kristen
    3:41 PM, 20 May 2011

     Preying on Singles: The Cause and Effect of Roadside Spam on Small Town Single Populations 
    A new phenomenon has swept the nation, threatening to put eHarmony and Match.com out of business. Maybe you’ve seen this new crop of signs littering busy intersections? They simply read: Single? YourTownSingles.com. The signs seemingly sprout up overnight like noxious weeds in an unkempt median, and the local government is never quick enough to confiscate them. Who is behind this vicious campaign to prey upon vulnerable singles? And how is this scam affecting the small town singles’ scene? This study will address any question you’ve ever dared to ask about the latest craze in roadside spam.

    • Jonathan Rogers
      1:00 PM, 25 May 2011

      Roadside spam…interesting. Spam has gone from the real world to the virtual world and back to the real world. 

  • Dan Kulp
    5:59 PM, 20 May 2011

     No Place Like Nome: A Migratory Fluctuation within the Undying Devotion of Rabbitroom Readers.
    After 2 successful “Hutchmoot” gatherings the founder, Andrew Peterson, of the ultra-devout community tried an experiment.  The annual migratory patterns of the website readers to the gathering could be tested by relocating the calling location to the city of Nome, Alaska.    Nome mayor, Phil Indablank, was quoted as saying, “sure we’ll take ya” in response to Mr. Peterson’s request of a new host city.  The location was selected as a connection of Lewis’s winter, the Tolkien LOTR – Pass of Cardhas, and the snow planet of Hoth from Star Wars.  It was an undeniable trifecta of nerdyness.  Peterson was also drawn by the town’s offer of free ice-cream for breakfast.  Attendees were baited to the location with temptations of endless geek-speak, copious amounts of hot cocoa, and ultra-nerdy sleeping bags (http://www.thinkgeek.com/geektoys/plush/bb2e/).  Most attendees were quoted as saying “I got one.  BOOM winning!”

  • Guest
    7:09 PM, 20 May 2011

     I really hate to admit this. Your monograph is brilliant, Jonathan.

  • livingoakheart
    10:51 PM, 20 May 2011

    The Death of Humor: The Cause and Effect of ‘Clean’ Joke Repositories. 
    It is an observable fact that there are only a certain number of truly funny jokes, and that constant exposure to said jokes causes them to no longer be funny. Thus,  the penchant of publishing companies, pastors, old geezers, and unfunny people to repeat these jokes endlessly has, unfortunately, killed them all dead. The result? Mass depression and workaholism. As stated by former comedian, Joe Cain:
    “There’s no reason left to live.”

    • Loren Warnemuende
      2:26 AM, 21 May 2011

      Ha! I love my dad, but he would be a perfect sociological object to study for this one 🙂 …. Not quite sure which category he would fit in, though.

    • Jonathan Rogers
      1:02 PM, 25 May 2011

      Livingoak, I’m always on the lookout for clean jokes to tell my kids, but I long ago gave up on the “Clean Joke” collections. I hope your monograph will include an appendix with clean jokes that are actually funny.

  • Alexis tate
    2:18 PM, 22 May 2011

    i love all of the jonathan rogers books. i really love the one with the boy who thinks that he’s the most ugliest person in the world.after that he ends finding out that he wasn’t that ugly in the first place 

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