'Grease Is the Word'

'Grease Is the Word'

Exploring a Cultural Phenomenon

Edited by Oliver Gruner & Peter Krämer

Bringing together a group of international scholars, ‘Grease Is the Word’ offers fresh insight into the impact and legacy of the cultural phenomenon that is Grease.

PDF, 236 Pages


November 2019

£25.00, $40.00

EPUB, 236 Pages


November 2019

£25.00, $40.00

  • About This Book
  • Reviews
  • Author Information
  • Series
  • Table of Contents
  • Links
  • Podcasts

About This Book

With its catalogue of hit songs, iconic characters, memorable quotes and familiar scenes, ‘Grease’ is truly a behemoth of US and global popular culture. From the stage show’s debut in 1971, to the Hollywood film of 1978, to the numerous rereleases and anniversary celebrations of the twenty-first century, it has enjoyed, and continues to enjoy, success across a range of media. ‘Grease’’s extended run on Broadway through the 1970s ensured it a prominent place within broader debates on the musical, 1950s nostalgia and American youth. Numerous stage revivals have followed, with theatres across the world revisiting Rydell High in front of sell-out audiences. Hollywood has time and again sought to recreate ‘Grease’ the movie’s phenomenal box-office success with a procession of similarly themed rock and roll youth musicals (‘Footloose’, ‘Dirty Dancing’, the ‘High School Musical’ franchise, to name a few). However, even as these productions enjoy their own renown, in terms of sheer longevity, prominence and popularity, ‘Grease’ was, is and will remain ‘the word’ when it comes to musical blockbusters.

Bringing together a group of international scholars from diverse academic backgrounds, ‘Grease Is the Word’ provides a series of fresh and detailed analyses of the cultural phenomenon ‘Grease’. From the stage show’s first appearance in 1971 to twenty-first century responses to the ‘Grease Megamix’, ‘Grease Is the Word’ reflects on the musical’s impact and enduring legacy. With essays covering everything from production history, political representations, industrial impact, music, stars and reception, the book shines a spotlight on one of Broadway’s and Hollywood’s biggest commercial successes. By adopting a range of perspectives, and drawing on various visual, textual and archival sources, the contributors maintain a vibrant dialogue throughout, offering a timely reappraisal of a musical that continues to resonate with fans and commentators the world over. Written in an engaging, accessible manner, the book will appeal to students, academics, and anyone interested in American popular culture.


‘Mining significant new primary materials and offering an admirable array of scholarly approaches, this collection adds much-needed depth to our current understanding of one of the most successful and yet underexamined pieces of American popular film in the twentieth century, the “cultural phenomenon” known as Grease.’
—Barbara Jane Brickman, Assistant Professor of Media and Gender Studies, New College & Department of Gender and Race Studies, University of Alabama, USA

‘Gruner and Krämer have gathered eleven fascinating essays that dissect Grease and explore the contexts that produced it and sustained its popularity. More than an in-depth examination of the film, “Grease Is the Word” is a major new offering in the study of US cinema and culture.’
—Yannis Tzioumakis, Reader in Film and Media Industries, University of Liverpool, UK

‘This collection brings together a variety of scholars in order to offer an interdisciplinary array of approaches to examine a multimedia phenomenon, using Grease as a lens through which to ask some of the key questions pertinent to film, media and cultural studies – most significantly questions related to stardom, nostalgia, fandom, representation, adaptation and critical reception.’
—Melanie Kennedy (SFHEA), Lecturer in Media and Communication, School of Media, Communication and Sociology, University of Leicester, UK

Author Information

Oliver Gruner is a senior lecturer in visual culture at the University of Portsmouth, UK. He is the author of Screening the Sixties: Hollywood Cinema and the Politics of Memory (2016). His work has also been published or is forthcoming in journals such as the Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Rethinking History and The Poster as well as in various edited collections.

Peter Krämer is a senior research fellow in cinema and TV in the Leicester Media School at De Montfort University, UK, and a senior fellow in the School of Art, Media and American Studies at the University of East Anglia, UK. He is also a regular guest lecturer at Masaryk University, Czech Republic, and at the University of Television and Film, Munich, Germany. Krämer is the author or co-editor of nine academic books.


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Table of Contents

Introduction, Oliver Gruner and Peter Krämer; 1. From Chicago to Broadway: The Origins of ‘Grease’, Scott Warfield, University of Central Florida; 2. ‘We Were Just Trying to Entertain’: ‘Grease’ in Production, Alexander G. Ross, University of East Anglia; 3. ‘Bland? Who, Me?’: Olivia Newton-John on the Road to ‘Xanadu’, Oliver Gruner, University of Portsmouth; 4. Travolta Fever, Adrian Garvey, Queen Mary University of London; 5. A View from the Bridge: ‘Grease’’s Los Angeles, Celestino Deleyto, University of Zaragoza; 6. ‘Grease’, the Jukebox Fifties and Time’s Percolations, Christine Sprengler, University of Western Ontario; 7. ‘We Go Together’: Meta-diegesis and Internal Voices in ‘Grease’, Beth Carroll, University of Southampton; 8. ‘An Easy Winner’: The Marketing, Reception and Success of ‘Grease’, Peter Krämer, University of East Anglia; 9. Vanishing Pregnancies to Flying Cars: Examining Changing Reactions to the Carnival in ‘Grease’, Frances Smith, University of Sussex; 10. ‘Grease’, Late Teens and the Twentysomething Audience Today, Rebecca Feasey, Bath Spa University; 11. Look at Me on DVD: ‘Grease’ in the Home, Simon Hobbs, University of Portsmouth; Index.


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