Regis College Senior Honors Program
Thesis - Open Access
Number of Pages
This is a conversation. When I first embarked on this project I had the naive idea that it wouldn't be difficult to come to an understanding about what kitsch is, what it does and what it means. I was wrong, very wrong. It was, and still is, a challenge explaining my thesis to others in a meaningful way. Most of my fellow students don't know what kitsch is. Most adults know it when they see it, but can't define it. I don't blame them. Defining kitsch is like nailing Jell-O to the wall. When given an obligatory pink flamingo or garden gnome example, however, everyone instantly knows what I'm talking about, proceeding to ask me what else is kitsch. "Is the Arc de Triomphe kitsch?" "Is Britney Spears kitsch?" "Are fake designer purses kitsch?" Each time I confirm the kitschiness of these and the other examples provided, their faces fall a little bit. Kitsch has such a negative connotation in our culture because it is so steeped in the context of taste and authenticity. If it is not in good taste, if it is not real, it must be inferior. Truthfully, I don't like falling faces in conversation. I try to pep things up by questioning the validity of the authentic. "Do you think you're really fooling anyone with that knock off Coach bag? Certainly there must be something good about buying imitation designer bags, right?"
Date of Award
© Pearl Shields
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Shields, Pearl, "Whose Frito Pie Is It? Competing Nostalgias in American Kitsch" (2009). Student Publications. 551.