Academic journal article American Studies

CORN PALACES AND BUTTER QUEENS: A History of Crop Art and Dairy Sculpture

Academic journal article American Studies

CORN PALACES AND BUTTER QUEENS: A History of Crop Art and Dairy Sculpture

Article excerpt

CORN PALACES AND BUTTER QUEENS: A History of Crop Art and Dairy Sculpture. By Pamela H. Simpson. Minneapolis: University of Mnnesota Press. 2012.

Don't let the trim size fool you. C orn Palaces and Butter Queens'" large size and splashy cover seems designed to sell in the gift shop at the Mitchell, South Dakota, Queens's Corn Palace, but Simpson has pulled together a new and serious work of cultural studies. Providing a highly readable narrative of the history and meaning of corn palaces, crop art, and butter sculpture from 1870 to 1930, in its best moments the book details the extent to which these forms of material culture were "testimony to the gospel of progress" (xvi). The book's main themes trace "democracy and provi- dence," "modernism and progress," and most over-archingly, "abundance" in cereal architecture (xix). Loaded with evocative color and black-and-white advertisements, photographs, and line drawings from magazines, Simpson includes images as essential texts, but sadly often refrains from deconstructing them in depth. While very engag- ing, Corn Palaces rarely confronts current academic debates about nineth-century Manifest Destiny and cultures of domestic empire. To this reviewer, the artistic and ideological issues which underlie narratives about abundance and progress in this era are inseparable from the same issues which underlie national expansion. Also, the best analysis here often comes at the end of chapters, or is saved for the conclusion of the book. Chapter 5, "Boosters, Saracens, and Indians," most effectively narrates how butter and corn arts have borne larger expansionist ideologies. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.