Tag American culture

Bob Dylan: Reluctant Prophet

David Yaffe— The biggest misconception about Dylan, among the unbelievers, is that his cawing derision is somehow an impediment to appreciation. The second biggest (and this is among the believers) is that he is a poet before he is a lyricist and a performer, and that the latter two represent

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How Technology Turned the Entertainment Industry Into America’s Ambassador to the World

People who watch U.S. television shows, attend Hollywood movies, and listen to pop music can’t help but believe that we are a nation in which we have sex with strangers regularly, where we wander the streets well-armed and prepared to shoot our neighbors at any provocation, and where the life

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What Changed When Everything Changed : The Fluidity of American National Identity

When Americans come upon a social arrangement they want to preserve, they do not alter their behavior to fit their values; they alter their values to fit their behavior. They change what it means to be an American… With intensely divisive issues like voting rights, immigration policy, and the war

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Time No Longer Scrutinizes American Myth & History

In Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century Patrick Smith explores America’s need for a new perspective and self-image. Smith argues that while old myths and stories once motivated and defined America and what it meant to be American, that these myths cannot drive the nation forward any longer. Instead

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Questioning Ambition

Read William Casey King’s “Three Things All Ambitious People Should Know” on the Wall Street Journal‘s “Speakeasy” blog! In credo of “life, liberty, and the pursuit  of happiness,” there seems an implicit acknowledgement of ambition–should one’s desires take you so far. This picture in American life is particularly central to

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I Is Someone Else: The Ever-changing Persona of Bob Dylan

“Je est un autre,” “I is someone else,” is one of Bob Dylan’s maxims. With 34 studio albums, over 500 songs, and a career that spans fifty years Bob Dylan’s voice is one recognizable to generations. Generations that each have their own memories of a different Dylan, a Dylan that

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Notes from the Field: Art Jam

Zoe Strauss is an unconventional young artist whose exciting, provocative photographic work culminates annually in a show she organizes: “Under I-95” takes place under Interstate 95 in South Philadelphia.  Her photographs are displayed on the concrete pillars that support the highway, and photocopies of the images are sold for $5

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For the Card-Carrying Shopper: Kenneth Ames on Christmas Cards

Kenneth Ames, author of American Christmas Cards 1900-1960 and organizer of the exhibition on view at the Bard Graduate Center through the end of the year, writes on his fascinating study of the artistic and cultural energy that was poured into the imagery, emotions, and stories of these seemingly simple

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Here’s to You, Joe DiMaggio, Where Have You Gone?

November 25 would be Joe DiMaggio’s ninety-seventh birthday. Such occasions are often celebrated with newspaper columns and commemorative events, but, strange as it may seem, in Jerome Charyn’s biography of the famous baseball player, DiMaggio’s birth is barely mentioned. Instead, in  Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil, from Yale University Press’s

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Literature Matters; Lionel Trilling Matters

In Why Trilling Matters, from Yale University Press’s Why X Matters Series, Adam Kirsch makes a compelling argument for why mid-century American literary critic Lionel Trilling might matter thirty-six years after his death. Yet the importance of a literary critic rests on the more fundamental question of the importance of

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