War and American Popular Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia

War and American Popular Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia

War and American Popular Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia

War and American Popular Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia

Synopsis

Spanning more than 400 years of America's past, this book brings together, for the first time, entries on the ways Americans have mythologized both the many wars the nation has fought and the men and women connected with those conflicts. Focusing on significant representations in popular culture, it provides information on fiction, drama, poems, songs, film and television, art, memorials, photographs, documentaries, and cartoons. From the colonial wars before 1775 to our 1997 peacekeeper role in Bosnia, the work briefly explores the historical background of each war period, enabling the reader to place each of the more than 500 entries into their proper context.

Excerpt

War and American Popular Culture: a Historical Encyclopedia looks closely at many of the most significant representations in popular culture that deal with this nation's various wars. in the following pages, attention is focused on works of fiction -- both novels and short stories -- poems, songs, plays, outdoor dramas, motion pictures, and radio and television presentations. There are entries on paintings, photography, cartoons, sculpture, public memorials, toys, comic books, dime novels, and even slogans and posters. There are also articles about some of the writers, photographers, songwriters, and other artists who created them.

In recent years, there have been many attempts to define popular culture. To some, it is little more than a description of those things that the "masses" of uneducated Americans enjoy. Others think of popular culture exclusively in relation to its commercial possibilities. According to some students, if a work is produced to make large amounts of money, it qualifies as "popular." If, conversely, an author, poet, artist, musician, or sculptor is simply expressing his or her innermost feelings, irrespective of how much financial gain might be realized, then, by definition, the work cannot be deemed popular. a "popular" work must appeal to the majority in a community, expressing its thoughts or meeting its needs so that, in theory at least, its members will be willing to pay for it. the entertainment value of a particular piece becomes all-important. Though there is more to be said for this definition than for one based on class distinctions, it has also been rejected for use in this encyclopedia.

"Popular culture," as defined in the following pages, is admittedly a simplistic concept. It is limited neither by its appeal to a particular class nor its economic success. If an item was embraced by "the people" -- the same American people to whom Abraham Lincoln referred in his Gettysburg Address -- it . . .

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