Elvis Presley. Marilyn Monroe. LeBron James. They're all American, of course, but like many cultural figures who hail from the United States, they have names and faces known the world over. ConFiguring America brings together a series of incisive essays that analyse a wide range of such figures: those who embody America's tendency to produce celebrities and iconic personalities with global reach.

Drawing on theoretical insights from a variety of fields —including cultural iconography, visual culture, star studies, and history—a diverse group of international contributors sheds light on how these figures and their media representations construct America's image beyond its borders. An important addition to an expanding field, ConFiguring America will deepen readers' understanding of celebrity, iconography, and their worldwide implications.

from Yuya Kiuchi's review in Journal of American Culture 38, no. 3 (2015)

"The wide array of examples discussed in ConFiguring America helps readers understand what could be considered a highly intricate theoretical examination of American iconic figures. The book's theoretical introduction would be difficult to understand for most undergraduate readers. The remaining chapters, however, are written in an accessible language, contain images, and address the theoretical frameworks which are postulated in the introduction. This volume would be a useful companion for upper-level undergraduate courses in cultural studies, American studies, and American history."

Table of Contents:

Introduction: Theorizing Iconic Figures (Klaus Rieser)

I. Icons and the Struggle over Meaning

"Just Like You," But Not Like Us: Staging National Belonging, Multiracial Femininity, and Collective Memory in the American Girl Family (Karina Eileraas)
Behind the Brown Mask: Joe Louis' Face and the Construction of Racial Mythologies (Marcy S. Sacks)
LeBron James and the Web of Discourse: Iconic Sports Figures and Semantic Struggles (Michael Fuchs & Michael Phillips)

II. Appropriating Iconic Figures

O Superman: The Many Faces of the Man of Steel (Bradley Bailey)
Thirty Are Better Than One: Marilyn Monroe and the Performance of Americanness (Susanne Hamscha)
Queering Cowboys, Queering Futurity: The Re/Construction of American Cowboy Masculinity (Leopold Lippert)
Iconizing Radical Change: How Gary Cooper Led Poland to Freedom (Jolanta Szymkowska-Bartyzel)

III. The Mutability and Abstraction of Iconic Figures

The Embodiment of a Nation: The Iconicity of Uncle Sam and the Construction of a Conflicted National Identity (Louis J. Kern)
Lois Lane: The Making of a Girl Reporter (Peter Lee)
War in Four Colors: The Battle between Superman and Captain America for America's Hearts and Minds during World War II (B. Keith Murphy)
Myth and Materiality: The Duality of Grace Kelly (Ana Salzberg)
"Its Own Special Attraction": Meditations on Martyrdom and the Iconicity of Civil Rights Widows (Brenda Tindal)