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Friendship Fictions, Friendship Fictions, 0817316892, 0-8173-1689-2, 978-0-8173-1689-1, 9780817316891, , , Friendship Fictions, 0817383514, 0-8173-8351-4, 978-0-8173-8351-0, 9780817383510,

Friendship Fictions
The Rhetoric of Citizenship in the Liberal Imaginary
Michael A. Kaplan

Trade Cloth
2010. 272 pp.
3 illustrations
Price:  $44.95 s
E Book
2010. 272 pp.
3 illustrations
Price:  $44.95 d

A criticism often leveled at liberal democratic culture is its emphasis on the individual over community and private life over civic participation. However, liberal democratic culture has a more complicated relationship to notions of citizenship. As Michael Kaplan shows, citizenship comprises a major theme of popular entertainment, especially Hollywood film, and often takes the form of friendship narratives; and this is no accident. Examining the representations of citizenship-as-friendship in four Hollywood films (The Big Chill, Thelma & Louise, Lost in Translation, and Smoke), Kaplan argues that critics have misunderstood some of liberal democracy’s most significant features: its resilience, its capacity for self-revision, and the cultural resonance of its model of citizenship.
For Kaplan, friendship—with its dynamic pacts, fluid alliances, and contingent communities—is one arena in which preconceptions about individual participation in civic life are contested and complicated. Friendship serves as a metaphor for citizenship and mirrors the individual’s participation in civic life. Friendship Fictions unravels key implications of this metaphor and demonstrates how it can transform liberal culture into a more just and democratic way of life. 

Michael A. Kaplan is Assistant Professor of Communications and Culture at Indiana University.

“[This book] takes on a major theme in modern democratic theory, offering an engaging argument that the widely acknowledged flaws of liberal democracy offer ‘rhetorical features that function as productive cultural and political resources.’ Kaplan demonstrates how this works in close examinations of four popular films. It seems to me that Kaplan’s work will itself prove to be highly productive, both for the theoretical claims he advances and for the model of rhetorical analysis he offers.”
—Thomas W. Benson, editor of American Rhetoric: Context and Criticism

Friendship Fictions offers at once a sustained, complex, and nuanced critique of the trope of ‘friendship’ as a marker of citizenship in contemporary liberalism with an eye to how it is manifestly alive in the public culture of popular cinema. This is a book that speaks to cutting edge problems in the contemporary study of rhetoric and public culture.”
—John Louis Lucaites, coauthor of No Caption Needed: Iconic Photographs, Public Culture, and Liberal Democracy

“In film criticism, identifying the rhetor or the rhetor's intent can be difficult, but Kaplan accomplishes the task. Extensive endnotes offer both citations and substantive extensions of Kaplan's ideas.”—CHOICE

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