This monumental work of cultural history was nominated for a National Book Award. It chronicles America's transformation, beginning in 1880, into a nation of consumers, devoted to a cult of comfort, bodily well-being, and endless acquisition. 24 pages of photos. From the Trade Paperback edition.
In The Challenge of American History, Louis Masur brings together a sampling of recent scholarship to determine the key issues preoccupying historians of American history and to contemplate the discipline's direction for the future. The fifteen summary essays included in this volume allow professional historians, history teachers, and students to grasp in a convenient and accessible form what historians have been writing about.
In 1912 James Reese Europe made history by conducting his 125-member Clef Club Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. The first concert by an African American ensemble at the esteemed venue was more than just a concert--it was a political act of desegregation, a defiant challenge to the status quo in American music. In this book, David Gilbert explores how Europe and other African American performers, at the height of Jim Crow, transformed their racial difference into the mass-market commodity known as "black music." Gilbert shows how Europe and others used the rhythmic sounds of ragtime, blues, and jazz to construct new representations of black identity, challenging many of the nation's preconceived ideas about race, culture, and modernity and setting off a musical craze in the process. Gilbert sheds new light on the little-known era of African American music and culture between the heyday of minstrelsy and the Harlem Renaissance. He demonstrates how black performers played a pioneering role in establishing New York City as the center of American popular music, from Tin Pan Alley to Broadway, and shows how African Americans shaped American mass culture in their own image.
This groundbreaking book examines the relationship between the development of the consumer society and the rise of collecting by individuals and institutions. Rusell Belk considers how and why people collect, as individuals, corporations and museums, and the impact this collecting has on us and our culture. Collecting in a Consumer Society outlines the history of museum collecting from ancient civilizations to the present. It also looks at aspects of consumer culture - advertizing, department stores, mass merchandizing, consumer desires, and how this relates to the activity of collecting. Collecting in a Consumer Society is the first book to focus on collecting as material consumption. This is a provocative and engaging book, essential reading for anyone involved with the process of collecting.
The Journal of the Civil War Era Volume 2, Number 4 December 2012 TABLE OF CONTENTS Articles Mark Fleszar "My Laborers in Haiti are not Slaves": Proslavery Fictions and a Black Colonization Experiment on the Northern Coast, 1835-1846 Jarret Ruminski "Tradyville": The Contraband Trade and the Problem of Loyalty in Civil War Mississippi K. Stephen Prince Legitimacy and Interventionism: Northern Republicans, the "Terrible Carpetbagger," and the Retreat from Reconstruction Review Essay Roseanne Currarino Toward a History of Cultural Economy Professional Notes T. Lloyd Benson Geohistory: Democratizing the Landscape of Battle Book Reviews Books Received Notes on Contributors The Journal of the Civil War Era takes advantage of the flowering of research on the many issues raised by the sectional crisis, war, Reconstruction, and memory of the conflict, while bringing fresh understanding to the struggles that defined the period, and by extension, the course of American history in the nineteenth century.
This book traces the rise and decline of what Theodore Roosevelt once called the "most American thing in America." The Chautauqua movement began in 1874 on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in western New York. More than a college or a summer resort or a religious assembly, it was a composite of all of these—completely derivative yet brilliantly innovative. For five decades, Chautauqua dominated adult education and reached millions with its summer assemblies, reading clubs, and traveling circuits. Scholars have long struggled to make sense of Chautauqua's pervasive yet disorganized presence in American life. In this critical study, Andrew Rieser weaves the threads of Chautauqua into a single story and places it at the vital center of fin de siècle cultural and political history. Famous for its commitment to democracy, women's rights, and social justice, Chautauqua was nonetheless blind to issues of class and race. How could something that trumpeted democracy be so undemocratic in practice? The answer, Rieser argues, lies in the historical experience of the white, Protestant middle classes, who struggled to reconcile their parochial interests with radically new ideas about social progress and the state. The Chautauqua Moment brings color to a colorless demographic and spins a fascinating tale of modern liberalism's ambivalent but enduring cultural legacy.
The only book to connect the everyday world of the 20-something undergraduate consumer with sound sociological analysis of the world of consumption Enchanting a Disenchanted World, Third Edition examines Disney, malls, cruise lines, Las Vegas, the world wide web, Planet Hollywood, credit cards, and all the other ways we now consume. Thoroughly updated to reflect the recent economic recession and the impact of the internet, bestselling author George Ritzer continues to explore this book’s central thesis: that our society has undergone fundamental change because of the way and the level at which we consume. This Third Edition demonstrates how we have created new "cathedrals" of consumption (places that enchant us so as to entice us to stay longer and consume more) while continuing to take capitalism to a new level. These places of consumption, whether in our homes, the mall, or cyberspace, are in a constant state of "enchanting the disenchanted," luring us through new spectacles because their rational qualities are both necessary and deadening at the same time. New and Hallmark Features Offers a unique analysis of the world of consumption, especially the settings in which consumption takes place Discusses the recent global economic recession throughout Offers rich details on consuming in such places as Las Vegas, Disney World, on cruise ships, in Wal-Mart, at McDonald’s, and, new to this edition, on the Web Includes a wide range of theoretical perspectives—Marxian, Weberian, critical theory, postmodern theory—as well as a number of concepts such as hyperconsumption, implosion, simulation, and time and space to show students how sociological theory can be applied to everyday phenomena
Vegetarianism has been practiced in the United States since the country's founding, yet the early years of the movement have been woefully misunderstood and understudied. Through the Civil War, the vegetarian movement focused on social and political reform, but by the late nineteenth century, the movement became a path for personal strength and success in a newly individualistic, consumption-driven economy. This development led to greater expansion and acceptance of vegetarianism in mainstream society. So argues Adam D. Shprintzen in his lively history of early American vegetarianism and social reform. From Bible Christians to Grahamites, the American Vegetarian Society to the Battle Creek Sanitarium, Shprintzen explores the diverse proponents of reform-motivated vegetarianism and explains how each of these groups used diet as a response to changing social and political conditions. By examining the advocates of vegetarianism, including institutions, organizations, activists, and publications, Shprintzen explores how an idea grew into a nationwide community united not only by diet but also by broader goals of social reform.
This volume explores the cultural and social values attached to retail selling in various historical contexts and locations. The articles shed light on different aspects of an activity that is both 'mundane' and almost universal: that of selling commodities for a profit. This is a field of study that is of growing interest to scholars from a variety of disciplines, but on which relatively little has yet been published.
While elite merchants, financiers, shopkeepers, and customers were the most visible producers, consumers, and distributors of goods and capital in the nineteenth century, they were certainly not alone in shaping the economy. Lurking in the shadows of capitalism's past are those who made markets by navigating a range of new financial instruments, information systems, and modes of transactions: prostitutes, dealers in used goods, mock auctioneers, illegal slavers, traffickers in stolen horses, emigrant runners, pilfering dock workers, and other ordinary people who, through their transactions and lives, helped to make capitalism as much as it made them. Capitalism by Gaslight illuminates American economic history by emphasizing the significance of these markets and the cultural debates they provoked. These essays reveal that the rules of economic engagement were still being established in the nineteenth century: delineations between legal and illegal, moral and immoral, acceptable and unsuitable were far from clear. The contributors examine the fluid mobility and unstable value of people and goods, the shifting geographies and structures of commercial institutions, the blurred boundaries between legitimate and illegitimate economic activity, and the daily lives of men and women who participated creatively—and often subversively—in American commerce. With subjects ranging from women's studies and African American history to material and consumer culture, this compelling volume illustrates that when hidden forms of commerce are brought to light, they can become flashpoints revealing the tensions, fissures, and inequities inherent in capitalism itself. Contributors: Paul Erickson, Robert J. Gamble, Ellen Gruber Garvey, Corey Goettsch, Joshua R. Greenberg, Katie M. Hemphill, Craig B. Hollander, Brian P. Luskey, Will B. Mackintosh, Adam Mendelsohn, Brendan P. O'Malley, Michael D. Thompson, Wendy A. Woloson.
Between Two Worlds is a story teeming with people on the move, making decisions, indulging or resisting their desires and dreams. In the seventeenth century a quarter of a million men, women, and children left England's shores for America. Some were explorers and merchants, others soldiers and missionaries; many were fugitives from poverty and persecution. All, in their own way, were adventurers, risking their lives and fortunes to make something of themselves overseas. They irrevocably changed the land and indigenous peoples they encountered - and their new world changed them. But that was only half the story. The plantations established from Maine to the Caribbean needed support at home, especially royal endorsement and money, which made adventurers of English monarchs and investors too. Attitudes to America were crucial, and evolved as the colonies grew in size, prosperity, and self-confidence. Meanwhile, for those who had crossed the ocean, America forced people to rethink the country in which they had been raised, and to which they remained attached after emigration. In tandem with new ideas about the New World, migrants pondered their English mother country's traditions and achievements, its problems and its uncertain future in an age of war and revolution. Using hundreds of letters, journals, reports, pamphlets and contemporary books, Between Two Worlds recreates this fascinating transatlantic history - one which has often been neglected or misunderstood on both sides of the Atlantic in the centuries since.
The essays in this collection use the history of consumption to look at many aspects of social and political life.
In the present electronic torrent of MTV and teen flicks, Nintendo and Air Jordan advertisements, consumer culture is an unmistakably important—and controversial—dimension of modern childhood. Historians and social commentators have typically assumed that the child consumer became significant during the postwar television age. But the child consumer was already an important phenomenon in the early twentieth century. The family, traditionally the primary institution of child socialization, began to face an array of new competitors who sought to put their own imprint on children's acculturation to consumer capitalism. Advertisers, children's magazine publishers, public schools, child experts, and children's peer groups alternately collaborated with, and competed against, the family in their quest to define children's identities. At stake in these conflicts and collaborations was no less than the direction of American consumer society—would children's consumer training rein in hedonistic excesses or contribute to the spread of hollow, commercial values? Not simply a new player in the economy, the child consumer became a lightning rod for broader concerns about the sanctity of the family and the authority of the market in modern capitalist culture. Lisa Jacobson reveals how changing conceptions of masculinity and femininity shaped the ways Americans understood the virtues and vices of boy and girl consumers—and why boys in particular emerged as the heroes of the new consumer age. She also analyzes how children's own behavior, peer culture, and emotional investment in goods influenced the dynamics of the new consumer culture. Raising Consumers is a provocative examination of the social, economic, and cultural forces that produced and ultimately legitimized a distinctive children's consumer culture in the early twentieth century.
From the clamshell razors and homemade lye depilatories used in colonial America to the diode lasers and prescription pharmaceuticals available today, Americans have used a staggering array of tools to remove hair deemed unsightly, unnatural, or excessive. This is true especially for women and girls; conservative estimates indicate that 99% of American women have tried hair removal, and at least 85% regularly remove hair from their faces, armpits, legs, and bikini lines. How and when does hair become a problem—what makes some growth “excessive”? Who or what separates the necessary from the superfluous? In Plucked, historian Rebecca Herzig addresses these questions about hair removal. She shows how, over time, dominant American beliefs about visible hair changed: where once elective hair removal was considered a “mutilation” practiced primarily by “savage” men, by the turn of the twentieth century, hair-free faces and limbs were expected for women. Visible hair growth—particularly on young, white women—came to be perceived as a sign of political extremism, sexual deviance, or mental illness. By the turn of the twenty-first century, more and more Americans were waxing, threading, shaving, or lasering themselves smooth. Herzig’s extraordinary account also reveals some of the collateral damages of the intensifying pursuit of hair-free skin. Moving beyond the experiences of particular patients or clients, Herzig describes the surprising histories of race, science, industry, and medicine behind today's hair-removing tools. Plucked is an unsettling, gripping, and original tale of the lengths to which Americans will go to remove hair.
We often picture life on the Canadian home front as a time of austerity, as a time when women went to work and men went to war. Graham Broad explodes this myth of home front sacrifice by bringing to light the contradictions of consumer society in wartime. Governments pressured Depression-weary citizens to save for the sake of the nation, but Canadians had money in their pockets, and advertisers tempted them with fresh groceries, glamorous movies, and new cars and appliances. Broad reveals that our "greatest generation" was not impervious to temptation but rather embarked on one of the biggest spending booms in our nation's history.
In early twentieth-century America, affluent city-dwellers made a habit of venturing out of doors and vacationing in resorts and national parks. Yet the rich and the privileged were not the only ones who sought respite in nature. In this pathbreaking book, historian Colin Fisher demonstrates that working-class white immigrants and African Americans in rapidly industrializing Chicago also fled the urban environment during their scarce leisure time. If they had the means, they traveled to wilderness parks just past the city limits as well as to rural resorts in Wisconsin and Michigan. But lacking time and money, they most often sought out nature within the city itself--at urban parks and commercial groves, along the Lake Michigan shore, even in vacant lots. Chicagoans enjoyed a variety of outdoor recreational activities in these green spaces, and they used them to forge ethnic and working-class community. While narrating a crucial era in the history of Chicago's urban development, Fisher makes important interventions in debates about working-class leisure, the history of urban parks, environmental justice, the African American experience, immigration history, and the cultural history of nature.
For more than a century, Times Square has mesmerized the world with the spectacle of its dazzling supersigns, its theaters, and its often-seedy nightlife. New York City’s iconic crossroads has drawn crowds of revelers, thrill-seekers, and other urban denizens, not to mention lavish outpourings of advertising and development money. Many have hotly debated the recent transformation of this legendary intersection, with voices typically falling into two opposing camps. Some applaud a blighted red-light district becoming a big-budget, mainstream destination. Others lament an urban zone of lawless possibility being replaced by a Disneyfied, theme-park version of New York. In Money Jungle, Benjamin Chesluk shows that what is really at stake in Times Square are fundamental questions about city life—questions of power, pleasure, and what it means to be a citizen in contemporary urban space. Chesluk weaves together surprising stories of everyday life in and around the Times Square redevelopment, tracing the connections between people from every level of this grand project in social and spatial engineering: the developers, architects, and designers responsible for reshaping the urban public spaces of Times Square and Forty-second Street; the experimental Midtown Community Court and its Times Square Ink. job-training program for misdemeanor criminals; encounters between NYPD officers and residents of Hell’s Kitchen; and angry confrontations between city planners and neighborhood activists over the future of the area. With an eye for offbeat, telling details and a perspective that is at once sympathetic and critical, Chesluk documents how the redevelopment has tried, sometimes successfully and sometimes not, to reshape the people and places of Times Square. The result is a colorful and engaging portrait, illustrated by stunning photographs by long-time local photographer Maggie Hopp, of the street life, politics, economics, and cultural forces that mold America’s urban centers.
From Storyville brothels and narratives of turn-of-the-century New Orleans to plantation tours, Bette Davis films, Elvis memorials, Willa Cather's fiction, and the annual prison rodeo held at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, Jessica Adams considers spatial and ideological evolutions of southern plantations after slavery. In Wounds of Returning, Adams shows that the slave past returns to inhabit plantation landscapes that have been radically transformed by tourism, consumer culture, and modern modes of punishment--even those landscapes from which slavery has supposedly been banished completely. Adams explores how the commodification of black bodies during slavery did not disappear with abolition--rather, the same principle was transformed into modern consumer capitalism. As Adams demonstrates, however, counternarratives and unexpected cultural hybrids erupt out of attempts to re-create the plantation as an uncomplicated scene of racial relationships or a signifier of national unity. Peeling back the layers of plantation landscapes, Adams reveals connections between seemingly disparate features of modern culture, suggesting that they remain haunted by the force of the unnatural equation of people as property.
American diners began to flock to Chinese restaurants more than a century ago, making Chinese food the first mass-consumed cuisine in the United States. By 1980, it had become the country's most popular ethnic cuisine. Chop Suey, USA offers the first comprehensive interpretation of the rise of Chinese food, revealing the forces that made it ubiquitous in the American gastronomic landscape and turned the country into an empire of consumption. Engineered by a politically disenfranchised, numerically small, and economically exploited group, Chinese food's tour de America is an epic story of global cultural encounter. It reflects not only changes in taste but also a growing appetite for a more leisurely lifestyle. Americans fell in love with Chinese food not because of its gastronomic excellence but because of its affordability and convenience, which is why they preferred the quick and simple dishes of China while shunning its haute cuisine. Epitomized by chop suey, American Chinese food was a forerunner of McDonald's, democratizing the once-exclusive dining-out experience for such groups as marginalized Anglos, African Americans, and Jews. The rise of Chinese food is also a classic American story of immigrant entrepreneurship and perseverance. Barred from many occupations, Chinese Americans successfully turned Chinese food from a despised cuisine into a dominant force in the restaurant market, creating a critical lifeline for their community. Chinese American restaurant workers developed the concept of the open kitchen and popularized the practice of home delivery. They streamlined certain Chinese dishes, such as chop suey and egg foo young, turning them into nationally recognized brand names.
Life for emerging adults is vastly different today than it was for their counterparts even a generation ago. Young people are waiting longer to marry, to have children, and to choose a career direction. As a result, they enjoy more freedom, opportunities, and personal growth than ever before. But the transition to adulthood is also more complex, disjointed, and confusing. In Lost in Transition, Christian Smith and his collaborators draw on 230 in-depth interviews with a broad cross-section of emerging adults (ages 18-23) to investigate the difficulties young people face today, the underlying causes of those difficulties, and the consequences both for individuals and for American society as a whole. Rampant consumer capitalism, ongoing failures in education, hyper-individualism, postmodernist moral relativism, and other aspects of American culture are all contributing to the chaotic terrain that emerging adults must cross. Smith identifies five major problems facing very many young people today: confused moral reasoning, routine intoxication, materialistic life goals, regrettable sexual experiences, and disengagement from civic and political life. The trouble does not lie only with the emerging adults or their poor individual decisions but has much deeper roots in mainstream American culture--a culture which emerging adults have largely inherited rather than created. Older adults, Smith argues, must recognize that much of the responsibility for the pain and confusion young people face lies with them. Rejecting both sky-is-falling alarmism on the one hand and complacent disregard on the other, Smith suggests the need for what he calls "realistic concern"--and a reconsideration of our cultural priorities and practices--that will help emerging adults more skillfully engage unique challenges they face. Even-handed, engagingly written, and based on comprehensive research, Lost in Transition brings much needed attention to the darker side of the transition to adulthood.