Kevin Costner: America's Teacher examines the role of Costner in educational settings domestically and abroad. Costner’s career over the past 35 years has seen ups and downs: his movies grossed 2 billion dollars in ticket sales worldwide and he has he won/been nominated for several Academy Awards but he also experienced critical and box office failures. Through the films in his oeuvre, Costner has been teaching audiences around the world about the United States--its history, people and culture. Some viewers and scholars recognize this as positive, others as problematic. This book serves as a place for teachers and scholars to explore ways in which Costner may be tapped for research and teaching purposes at all levels of education. It is organized around three large themes: Costner’s baseball films and their connection to Americana; Costner’s films through the more critical lenses of gender and new western scholarship; and Costner’s teaching of teachers, the pedagogical possibilities of his work.
Edward Janak is professor and department chair of educational studies at the University of Toledo.
Ludovic A. Sourdot is professor of teacher education at Texas Woman's University.
Ludovic A. Sourdot and Edward Janak
Part I: Kevin Costner and America’s Game
Chapter One: Candlesticks Make a Nice Gift: The Baseball Films of Kevin Costner
Chapter Two: Heaven or Iowa? Field of Dreams and Public Understanding of America’s Pastime
Bradley Hart and Dennis Hart
Part II: Kevin Costner and Sex, Gender, and the New West
Chapter Three: Black Women’s Lives Matter: Revisiting The Bodyguard Thirty Years Later
Chapter Four: Performing the Rugged Patriarch: Yellowstone’s Commemoration of the American Monomyth
Chandra Maldonado and Ashley A. Mattheis
Chapter Five: “This is America. We Don’t Share Land Here.” Kevin Costner, Taylor Sheridan, and Remediating New/Post-West(ern) Scholarship in Yellowstone
Stefan Rabitsch and Pawel Pyrka
Part III: The Pedagogical Possibilities of Kevin Costner
Chapter Six: Kevin Costner the Wise Teacher: Thirteen Days and Four Lessons from the Cuban Missile Crisis
Chapter Seven: Intentional Focus on Integrated STEM: Was Costner the Original STEM Influencer?
Andrea Burrows, Michelle Chamberlain, and Mike Borowczak
Chapter Eight: Resilience and Asset Framing: The Lessons of McFarland, USA
Afterword: “Playing the Hand You’ve Been Dealt”: Lessons in Leadership the Post-COVID
Jerry Ausburn and Edward Janak
About the Contributors
This thoughtful book is a courageous provocation for fans, spectators, and critics to consider the learning experiences and opportunities that inhabit the television and film work of Kevin Costner. Through careful critical analysis of his complexly appreciated work, this book reveals the ways in which curricula—educational experience—manifest in unlikely places. The draw of Costner is the bait; focused explorations of his work are the switch, as they reveal educational ideas and lessons assumed more appropriately embedded in other contexts. Kevin Costner, America’s Teacher is a diamond in the haystack of popular visual culture.
When an actor has enduring popularity over several decades, it is imperative to take a close look at their body of work to see what it can teach us about the culture that produced and consumed such performances. Kevin Costner has persistently been a top draw at the box office in iconic roles since the mid 1980s. The authors of this volume take a serious yet entertaining look at how Costner's quintessentially American characters have, for better and worse, represented life in the United States across a variety of genres. It is a lively read about an actor whose work allows the authors to engage in a variety of academic debates about film, American culture, masculinity, race, and education.