lars of that experience. Beth OConnor argues thatYo Mama Magazine, a zine addressed to teen
mothers, provides these mothers a space to share andcritique dominant representations of motherhood.
Although all the essays in this collection wrestlewith the presence of the mother within popular cul-
ture, the third section, Pregnant and PostpartumBodies, centers on the taboos and fantasies of the
pregnant body and the new mother. These essays arguethat motherhood is both a pre and postpartum experi-ence and that the pregnant body is one that is discur-
sively constructed as full of risk. The topics range froman analysis of the public discourse surrounding breast
feeding to the spectacle of starving and sufferingAfrican mothers in first-world media.
The fourth and final section, Medical Interven-tions and Reproductive Technologies, includes five
essays. As Podnieks explains in her introduction, themost contentious maternal issues today deal with fer-
tility and reproduction (23). Sally Mennill begins thesection by exploring the rhetoric of passivity in mater-nity literature. Other chapters address the confluence
of celebrity culture and ideologies regarding post-partum depression and representations of motherhood
in the television series Greys Anatomy. Although theessays collected here primarily focus on representa-
tions of motherhood in the Unites States, Canada, andthe United Kingdom,Mediating Moms fails in a signif-
icant way to consider the relationship between popularmotherhood discourse and women of color. Only twoessays explicitly address motherhood and mothering
for women of color, H. Louise Daviss Watch ThemSuffer, Watch Them Die and Hosu Kims S/Kin of
Virtual Mothers: Loss and Mourning on a KoreanBirthmothers Website.
The rest of the collection primarily focuses on pop-ular representations of motherhood that convey domi-
nant hegemonic ideologies. Given the long history ofblack mothers in film and television, this is an unfortu-
nate oversight in an otherwise excellent addition tomotherhood studies.
Western Kentucky University
Nicole KidmanPam Cook. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.
Pam Cooks Nicole Kidman is the second book inthe British Film Institutes series on star profiles. In
this short volume, Cook emphasizes Nicole Kidman asa brand. The author comments that stars no longer per-
form simply in film or on the stage, but also in othermedia such as online publications, magazine spreads,
and music videos. Although popular belief holds thatsuch commercial images belong to the realm of com-
mercial exploitation and film performances are a prod-uct of art, Cook questions this privileging of one media
form over the other. As such, she convincingly arguesthat analysis, particularly the analysis of a stars brand,should extend beyond the boundaries of the film text.
Cooks analysis is divided into three chapters.Chapter One, Stardom, traces Kidmans career from
its beginnings in Australia to international celebritystardom. Cook notes that, whereas Kidmans life
narrative is used to construct her stardom, it alsofragments her image. Here, Cook traces the decon-
struction, and Kidmans attempt at the reconstructionof her persona. For example, Kidmans move to Holly-
wood transformed her image from Australian tomboyinto glamor icon, a mask that has become character-ized by pastiche, especially in magazine spreads where
she is clothed and positioned as stars from the past.In this chapter, Cook also draws from Richard
Dyers Heavenly Bodies (2004), where he argues thatfascination with the real person behind the image is
what attracts us to stars. Consumers search for atruth of a star, even though a star can only present
an image. The inability to access the real personmotivates fans to collect memorabilia, and critics topore over media artifacts to decipher meaning. Fans
fabricate a character or persona for the star from bitsand pieces. Cook points out that the scattering of
information about stars across so many different siteshas made coherence and authenticity less achievable.
So, although Kidmans image is present in a variety ofmedia texts, her image both on and off screen is contra-
dictory and unknowable. The division between anactors onscreen roles and her wider public persona is
not a solid one, as both rely on performance and theadoption of a character.
In Chapter Two, Performance, Cook uses recent
scholarship on screen performance to consider Kid-mans approach to acting, as well as the ways in which
such performances have been received. In this chapter,Cook explores Kidmans style as an actress through
case studies of key films including Dead Calm (1989),To Die For (1995), Eyes Wide Shut (1999), The Hours
(2002), and Australia (2008). Cook outlines the distinc-tion between Stanislavskian naturalism, where the
Book reviews 147
actor aspires to authenticity by drawing on her innerself, and Brechtian didactic modernism, where the
actor emphasizes the artificiality of performance tofoster critical awareness. Cook argues that in these
films Kidman emphasizes pretense and technique,which reflects an emphasis on the artifice of perfor-
mance. Her self-reflexive acting style makes visible theconstruction of film itself.
Chapter Three, Persona, explores the construc-tion of Kidmans persona outside of cinema in televi-sion talk shows, magazine fashion shoots, celebrity
tabloid gossip, fan websites, commercials, and philan-thropy to demonstrate the expansion of star discourse
across different sites and to argue that Kidmanspersona encompasses much more than cinematic
performance. Onscreen and off, Kidman is alwaysengaged in the performance of character types.
Although the public persona is the linchpin that holdstogether aspects of star diversity and activity spanning
diverse locations and forms, it too is a fiction (73).Cook looks at Kidmans attempts to provide a coher-ent identity by recourse to her Australian roots, and
the ways in which core elements of Kidmans persona,such as national identity, beauty, whiteness, and femi-
nism, are mobilized to create a heroic character.Although she operates between film and extra-cine-
matic appearances to become that personal brand, suchattempts at authenticity ultimately fail.
Overall, Nicole Kidman offers an accessible andcompelling case study into the construction of a starnarrative. The book is short, and as such it leaves the
readers wanting Cook to delve deeper into some ofher arguments. In particular, this reviewer would have
liked more discussion on postcolonialism, race, and thecontradictory nature of Kidmans feminist persona.
Nevertheless, Nicole Kidman, coupled with the otherbooks in BFIs star series, could be a useful resource
for those interested in star studies.
Baldwin Wallace University
Observation Points: The Visual Poetics of
National ParksThomas Patin, Editor. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota
Observation Points: The Visual Poetics of
National Parks deconstructs the quintessentially
American landscapes of western national parks. Theconspicuous representation of the ideals of Manifest
Destiny, freedom, democracy, and the spirit of inde-pendence in the lofty vistas of Zion, Yellowstone,
the Grand Canyon, and Mount Rushmore is revealedas fabrication. Drawing heavily upon the work of W.
J. T. Mitchell, this collection asserts that landscapes,being far from unmediated nature, are in fact instru-
ments of social power, employed to naturalize cul-tural constructs and stabilize contingent politicalpositions. Observation Points functions as an expose,
affirming the iconographical, theatrical, and regula-tory qualities of the landscapes of national parks,
revealing them as highly orchestrated phenomena.The disparate essays in this volume uncover the nat-
uralized conventions for visualizing, viewing, con-ceptualizing, and experiencing the landscape and for
exploring various grammars, architectures, and tech-nologies, including landscape painting, orientation
films, documentary, monuments and memorials, visi-tor center displays, viewing instruments, and thebuilt environment. The range of examples convinc-
ingly demonstrate that the strategic conventions ofvisual signifying materials and practices in or about
national parks form predominantly conservative atti-tudes, build a consensual national identity, determine
acts of decorum, and negotiate policies regardingland use and ownership and the environment. The
collection emphasizes the importance of studyingvisual rhetoric in order to better understand thedeliberate material techniques that condition bodies
and meaning and maintain the nations prevailingpolitical and cultural mythologies.
The contributors in Observation Points formulate acohesive claim that visual rhetoric, particularly filmic
representations, photography, and architectural fea-tures, construct collective prosthetic memories and
legitimize shared values. Visual rhetoric hails ahomogenous visitor or national subject. According to
the authors in this volume, the visual rhetoric ofnational parks validates Americas domestic imperial-ism, promotes expansion as inevitable, articulates the
concept of religious refuge, and buttresses a capitalistethos by promoting nature as a spectacle to be con-
sumed. The collective gaze is aligned with an imperi-ous and omniscient persona, surveying an
anachronistically virgin landscape, which invitesdomestication. The drama of American civilization
waiting to unfold is consistently made visible, whereasthe historical presence of Native American inhabitants
148 Book reviews