Dude, I know.

I confess: I have not seen The Big Lebowski. It’s always been one of those things I say I’ll get around to one of these days: I like the other Coen Brothers movies I’ve seen, I know a lot of Coen fans hold Lebowski in high esteem, that it has cult following. I think I’ll probably be watching it tonight, though; one of the review books that came in the mail yesterday was The Year’s Work in Lebowski Studies (Indiana University Press), and it’s just fantastic. Some of the essay titles: “The Really Big Sleep: Jeffrey Lebowski as the Second Coming of Rip Van Winkle”; “Dudespeak: Or, How to Bowl like a Pornstar”; “Metonymic Hats and Metaphoric Tumbleweeds: Noir Literary Aesthetics in Miller’s Crossing and The Big Lebowski”; “The Big Lebowski and Paul de Man: Historicizing Irony and Ironizing Historicism”; “Holding Out Hope for the Creedence: Music and the Search for the Real Thing in The Big Lebowski”, which is the first essay I read (Creedence? sign me up)… and the list goes on, 21 essays in all, ranging from stridently academic to …well, less stridently academic.

What they all share is a serious appreciation for the movie, while avoiding “arid analysis” – in other words, it’s not just a book to be passed around among film studies majors. It manages to be deeply smart and serious about its ideas without become stuffy and impenetrable. It’s also not one of those hokey knock-off, cash-in books that you see trying to jump on the coattails. If you’re holiday shopping, this should definitely make the cut.

Part 1. Ins (Intrinsic Models and Influences)
1. The Really Big Sleep: Jeffrey Lebowski as the Second Coming of Rip Van Winkle / Fred Ashe
2. A Once and Future Dude: The Big Lebowski as Medieval Grail-Quest / Andrew Rabin
3. Dudespeak: Or, How to Bowl like a Pornstar / Justus Nieland
4. Metonymic Hats and Metaphoric Tumbleweeds: Noir Literary Aesthetics in Miller’s Crossing and The Big Lebowski / Christopher Raczkowski
5. The Dude and the New Left / Stacy Thompson
6. The Big Lebowski and Paul de Man: Historicizing Irony and Ironizing Historicism / Joshua Kates
7. Lebowski and the Ends of Postmodern American Comedy / Matthew Biberman
8. Found Document: The Stranger’s Commentary and a Note on His Method / Thomas B. Byers
9. No Literal Connection: Mass Commodification, U.S. Militarism, and the Oil Industry in The Big Lebowski / David Martin-Jones
10. “I’ll Keep Rolling Along”: Some Notes on Singing Cowboys and Bowling Alleys in The Big Lebowski / Edward P. Comentale
Part 2. Outs (Eccentric Activities and Behaviors)
11. What Condition the Postmodern Condition Is In: Collecting Culture in The Big Lebowski / Allan Smithee
12. Holding Out Hope for the Creedence: Music and the Search for the Real Thing in The Big Lebowski / Diane Pecknold
13. “Fuck It, Let’s Go Bowling”: The Cultural Connotations of Bowling in The Big Lebowski / Bradley D. Clissold
14. LebowskIcons: The Rug, The Irong Lung, The Tiki Bar, and Busby Berkeley / Dennis Hall and Susan Grove Hall
15. On the White Russian / Craig N. Owens
16. Professor Dude: An Inquiry into the Appeal of His Dudeness for Contemporary College Students / Richard Gaughran
17. Abiding (as) Animal: Marmot, Pomeranian, Whale, Dude / David Pagano
18. Logjammin’ and Gutterballs: Masculinities in The Big Lebowski / Dennis Allen
19. Size Matters / Judith Roof
20. Brunswick = Fluxus / Aaron Jaffe
21. Enduring and Abiding / Jonathan Elmer
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2 thoughts on “Dude, I know.

  1. Matthew, clearly I’m not academic enough, because this title makes me chuckle.
    Like you, I am yet to see it, though I’ve just watched Fargo again. Lebowski, and No Country both need to be watched by moi. Thanks for the reminder.

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