Michael Kammen's American Culture, American Tastes: Social Change and the PDF

By Michael Kammen

ISBN-10: 0465037291

ISBN-13: 9780465037292

ISBN-10: 142948568X

ISBN-13: 9781429485685

In American tradition, American Tastes, Michael Kammen leads us on an exciting, thought-provoking journey of America's altering tastes, makes use of of relaxation, and the moving perceptions that experience followed them all through our nation's background. beginning on the time limit that late-nineteenth-century pop culture started to evolve into post-WWII mass tradition, Kammen charts the effect of ads and opinion polling; the improvement of standardized items, buying facilities, and mass advertising and marketing; the separation of teenybopper and grownup tradition; the connection among "high" and "low" artwork; the commercialization of geared up leisure; and the ways that tv has formed mass tradition and consumerism has reconfigured it. In doing so, he attracts from assets as various and wealthy because the paintings of esteemed cultural theorists, "The Simpsons," jigsaw puzzles, Walter Winchell's gossip columns, Whitman's poetry, Warhol's artwork, "Sesame Street," and the Book-of-the-Month Club.With wit and ingenuity Kammen strains the emergence of yank mass tradition and the contested meanings of rest, flavor, client tradition, and social divisions that it has spawned.

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As mmy have noted, h o ~ ~ e v e\/\i:hit~~an r, never achieved the large, appreciative alritiencc among the masses that he yearned fbr and, at times, eagerly expected. 'he adoring admirers of his poetry came largely horn the more educated strata and fror-n those wham we regard in retrospect as avant-garde. It is entirely possible, therefore, that b a i r n a n 8 m e m o v and ser-rsibilir-yplayed tricks on hi111 in his declining p a r s , and that hc projected back to the 1840s and '50s a degree of stratification in taste that did not really emerge llrltil the 18705, W know9for example, that art union competitirtns and exlribitions during the r 830s and I 840s were open to talent and well aeentled by a cross section of the popufation.

H was not merely tarnisilcd hut dclunright mercenaT. Cirnsted 172s wggcstt"'f that 'k desire to create, and a need tcr live, and a yen frtr mctrley or recognition are not warrii~gbut joined clemems in lrumatn beings. Such a gross truism would hardly be worth making did it not relate to ane af the rnost popular explawatov put-downs of papufar culture, 'E'? 'f"he process of chaxzge over time, however, has Izat been neatly linear "Dt Inore nearly cyclical, with widely shared culmral tastes more notiiccafile early (seventeenth to mid-ni netecn th CJFculccnturics) and late (sincc the rgdos), whereas the sepcr-reatiot~ tural tastes was more prominent in between, Inquiries lrave certainly demonstrated that sharp distincdons between high ctslmre and low did Izat jet oi~tainduring the first half af the nineteexzth century, whether ane looks at museums, carnivafs, the audier-rces for painting or for Shakespeare,""' 'I'he sirnation in wctorian A ~ c r i c ais more complex, and there is considerably less consensus ;zmong srudents of tlre tater nineteenth c c t ~ a t qOl-rekpreferences depej-rda great deal upon the modes af cultural, experience or-re chooses to examine.

Being "exertive" or participatorq. may occur either in the makjng orin tlre consuming of a product or 3 pleasure. (A quilting bee provides 3 goad example,) Ilow people used or responded to what was offered them rnatters a great deal. vtesSRc~narkat9fy egalitarian in tone, the essay sox~ghtto minimize any ix-revitable connection between class and taste, between social status and brow levels---a sure sign that tllis very issue had become vexing in Lktorian hnerica. 'T"here are people who are coarse and vulgar, and there are others who are refined and gentle; t9ut they cannot be distinguislred from each other by ally garb or circumstance apart from character, It is true that a certain leisure, with opporturniy for the cufti\ratioxl of taste and for the pursuit of social satisfaceions, favcors a life that may be caltecf gex-rtle, and that hard work and rough competition tend to coarsen the Inal-rrrers and tab the patrician tone fri-rtmthe speeclr.

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American Culture, American Tastes: Social Change and the Twentieth Century by Michael Kammen

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