This Thing of Ours

Investigating The Sopranos

Edited by David Lavery

Columbia University Press

This Thing of Ours

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Pub Date: September 2002

ISBN: 9780231127813

225 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $30.00£24.95

Pub Date: September 2002

ISBN: 9780231127806

225 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $90.00£74.95

This Thing of Ours

Investigating The Sopranos

Edited by David Lavery

Columbia University Press

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.
Fulfills its promise of a fair trial... [and] provides a dose of fun at the end. New York Magazine
The essays are at once entertaining and serious pieces of social criticism. Publishers Weekly
A gloriously over-the-top exercise, proof--if any more were needed--of the way The Sopranos is now embedded in the culture generale. (It is proof, also, that the academy has not entirely lost its sense of humor.) The Wall Street Journal
As the cleverly chosen subtitle suggests: it is a good place to start, both for scholars and fans, and for those numerous people who are both. Film International
Part I: Introductory
Coming Heavy: The Significance of The Sopranos, by David Lavery
Our Mobsters, Ourselves,, by Ellen Willis
The Sopranos: The Gangster Redux, by Albert Auster
Part II: Men and Women
"I dread you": Married to the Mob in The Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos, by Cindy Donatelli and Sharon Alward
"Why Don't you take a look in the mirror, you insensitive prick": Weight, Body Image and Masculinity in The Sopranos, by Avi Santo
One for the Boys? The Sopranos and Its Male, British Audience, by Joanne Lacey
"Cunnilingus and Psychoanalysis Have Brought Us To This": Livia and the Logic of Falsehoods, by Joseph S. Walker
Part III: The Media Context
David Chase The Sopranos and Television Creativity, by David Lavery and Robert J. Thompson
"TV Ruined the Movies'' Television, Tarantino, and The Intimate World of The Sopranos, by Glen Creeber
Way North of New Jersey: A Canadian Experience of The Sopranos, by Dawn Elizabeth B. Johnston
Naked Bodies, Three Showings a Week, and No Commercials: The Sopranos as a Nuts-and-Bolts Triumph of Non-Network TV, by Paul Levinson
The Sopranos as HBO Brand Equity: The Art of Commerce in the Age of Digital Reproduction, by Mark C. Rogers, Michael Epstein, and Jimmie Reeves
Part IV: Genre, Narrative Technique, and Intertextuality
Mobbed Up: The Sopranos and the Intertextual Gangster, by David Pattie
Beyond the Bada Bing!: Negotiating Female Narrative Authority in The Sopranos, by Kim Akass and Janet McCabe
Wiseguy Opera: Music for Sopranos, by Kevin Fellezs
Part V: Cultural Contexts
No(rth Jersey) Sense of Place: The Cultural Geography (and Media Ecology) of The Sopranos, by Lance Strate
"Soprano-speak": Language and Silence in The Sopranos, by Douglas L. Howard
The Eighteenth Brumaire of Tony Soprano, by Steven Hayward, and Andrew Biro
"The Brutality of Meat" and "the Abruptness of Seafood": Food, Violence, and Family in The Sopranos, by Sara Lewis Dunne

About the Author

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.