Handbook of American Popular Culture - Vol. 1

Handbook of American Popular Culture - Vol. 1

Handbook of American Popular Culture - Vol. 1

Handbook of American Popular Culture - Vol. 1


"The first volume was hailed as a cornerstone volume in fascilitating research.' This revision, appearing all at one time, deserves that designation even more.... essential for large public and academic libraries." Reference Books Bulletin "Eight new articles describing business, catalogs, computers, dance, fashion, gardening, graffiti, and musical theater. Several other chapters are essentially new since they have new authors. There is a superb article on pornography from Joseph Slade, an expanded article on magic from Steve Tigner, and a new article on science from Elizabeth Keeney. Richard Nelson's article on propaganda, the longest in the first edition, is now greatly expanded and provides one of the most detailed treatments of the subject anywhere." Library Journal "This essential tool for the study of American popular culture serves as introductory textbook; bibliographic guide; bibliography; and, through its index, an informal survey of that discipline's concerns." Wilson Library Bulletin


The development of the field of popular culture as a legitimate subject of critical scrutiny and scholarly investigation in America began with the declaration of Gilbert Seldes in his audacious and ground-breaking book published in 1924, The 7 Lively Arts, where he asserted that entertainment of a high order existed in places not usually associated with Art, that the place where an object was to be seen or heard had no bearing on its merits,. . . and that a comic strip printed on newspulp which would tear and rumple in a day might be as worthy of a second look as a considerable number of canvasses at most of our museums.

While the guardians of high culture and the New York critics looked on in disbelief, Seldes issued a series of propositions which threatened the foundations of the intellectual establishment. Among them were the following:

That there is no opposition between the great and the lively [i.e., popular] arts.

That except in a period when the major arts flourish with exceptional vigour, the lively arts are likely to be the most intelligent phenomenon of their day.

That the lively arts as they exist in America today are entertaining, interesting, and important.

That with a few exceptions these same arts are more interesting to the adult cultivated intelligence than most of the things which pass for art in cultured society.

While outrage met his propositions, Seldes established the point of view that twentieth-century America had an artistic tradition of its own different . . .

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