Ashley MacIsaac’s star track and the ‘place’ of TV


The latest issue of TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies based at York University, examines the star machine and the double-edged sword of non-conformity in media treatment of Canadian Celtic-pop music star Ashley MacIsaac. The new issue (No. 8, Fall 2002), edited by York cultural studies scholar Jody Berland, also tackles the pervasiveness of television in our lives and its ultimate disappearance.

In “Ashley MacIsaac: Star Image, Queer Identity, and the Politics of Outing”, Erna MacLeod, a doctoral candidate at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, describes the rise and fall of  MacIsaac, right, in the popular media. She examines where the line gets drawn in Canadian public acceptance of non-conformity in art.

MacLeod says the “denunciation of MacIsaac’s behaviour and self-destructive practices obscures the music industry’s and media’s role in constructing his popularity early in his career and dismantling his star image in subsequent years.”

In “Television and Objecthood: The ‘Place’ of Television in Television Studies”, York professor of communications and culture Kevin Dowler discusses the implications for the study of TV given the end of the conventional broadcasting model and the effective disappearance of the television set, as various kinds of video displays proliferate and are integrated into structures.

“Television no longer operates as a portal to somewhere else,” says Dowler; it is now part of the surrounding architecture. “The building,” he says, “is no longer merely the support for media technologies of various sorts; it has become one of those technologies.”

TOPIA publishes current peer reviewed research in cultural studies by scholars in Canada and around the world. While emphasizing Canadian concerns, it is committed to encouraging multiple Canadian and transnational perspectives, traditions, and debates.

For more information about the latest issue of TOPIA, visit the Media Relations Web site at, and for information on back issues of the journal, visit It is also available at the York University Bookstore, the University of Toronto Bookstore, Pages Magazines and Books and Wilfrid Laurier University Press. The Spring 2003 issue will be published by Wilfrid Laurier University Press.