My name is Andrew J. Friedenthal, and I am a writer, a Media/American Studies scholar/historian, a creative artist, an editor, and a performer. What this means is that I look at American media, culture and history through an interdisciplinary lens, drawing on the methodologies of literary studies, history, ethnography, and many other -y’s. In layman’s terms, I really like to overthink the culture I’m surrounded by, and to share those thoughts with others through the written word, because I believe there’s an inherent value at looking beneath the surface of our daily lives and expressing what I/we find there. I do this variously through freelance copywriting and journalism, academic scholarship, creative writing, and comedic writing and performance.
As you can I think of myself not just a writer and a scholar, but also as an artist – especially a theater practitioner and critic. Though much of my artwork is of a more personal nature, the creation of such work is extremely influential upon my scholarship. Indeed, to me, scholarship and media/art are two sides of the same coin, or perhaps even the same side of one coin as it is tilted in the light. To quote director Anne Bogart, from her book A Director Prepares: Seven Essays on Art and Theatre:
“Victor Schklovsky, the Russian Formalist who undoubtedly influenced Bertolt Brecht with his Four Essays on Formalism written in the 1920s, developed significant theories on the function of art. Everything around us, he wrote, is asleep. The function of art is to awaken what is asleep. How do you awaken what is asleep? According to Schlkovsky, you turn it slightly until it awakens.”
Both art and scholarship are a process of turning something slightly to awaken it; I like think of the most basic unit of either in terms of a toaster. When we turn a toaster sitting on a counter, to look at it from a new angle, that is the most basic action of both art (to see something in a new light) and scholarship (to understand a hidden side of something). The distinction between the two is fine, at best, and thus I hope you will find my work to be both artful and scholarly.