Student Research Projects

Juice Up!: Ishmael Reed's Attack on Americans and the Media

Student Chelsea Lewis, ‘13
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department English
Course ENG 489: Senior Capstone


This research investigated the novel Juice! by Ishmael Reed. It examined what the novel says about Americans and their obsession with media and spectacle. It also examined the purpose of the novel's construction and style. To understand the construction of the novel, the research studied the idea of satire, Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s theory of the Signifying Monkey, and Guy Debord's theory of the Society of the Spectacle. I argue that the novel shows American obsession with the media, and it uses the O.J. Simpson trial as one of the examples of this obsession. The text shows that Americans are no longer living in reality. Reed wants his readers to see themselves for who we really are. He also seeks to demonstrate how media is destroying American culture. These two problems are fueled by ideas that involve racism and tokenism, both of which Reed suggests are problematic. This research is significant because Reed is a prominent African American author who repeatedly writes in this particular in-your-face style. Americans learn from his writings that if they continue to live life this way, their society will crumble.