By Melinda Lorge
The suburban life, neighborhood gossip and 1960s family structure of the American Movie Classics’ television drama “Mad Men” were familiar to Jane Marcellus’ childhood. These familiarities led the journalism professor to feel a connection to the program that was later expressed in co-writing the nonfiction book“Mad Men and Working Women.”
“My frustration with ‘Mad Men,’ though, is that I cannot hold it,” Marcellus sighed. “[It] operates on a certain level of literature, which is not like the PBS high culture, pretentious literature. It’s like a really good novel on TV. The show is something between entertainment and entertainment with depth. It really is just like literature on television.”
Her fascination with the show and the intellectual quality of it led Marcellus to gain a deeper level of appreciation that led her to put together a panel.
“I searched for people through Facebook,” she smiled. “Our panel we called Mad Men, Working Women and History … I thought that we would just have a panel. Erika Engstrom, one of my co-authors came up with the idea that we should have a book. I said, ‘Yes.’”
Serendipity is a word that comes to Marcellus’ mind when she speaks of her new book, “Mad Men and Working Women: Feminist Perspectives on Historical Power, Resistance and Otherness” which released in January.
The panel then attended a 2011 Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication conference and a National Communication Association conference, and Engstrom drafted the proposal for the book. The final draft of it included eight chapters with four female writers, each having two chapters representing their individual work.
The writers included Engstrom (Ph.D., University of Florida), Kimberly Wilmot Voss (Ph.D., University of Maryland), Tracy Lucht (Ph.D., University of Maryland) and Marcellus.
“We all brought different insights into the book,” she said comparing it to the first book that she had ever written titled “Business Girls and Two-Job Wives: Emerging Media Stereotypes of Employed Women.”