Journal of American Culture (Malden, MA)

Articles from Vol. 17, No. 2, Summer

'A Breed Apart': Hollywood, Racial Stereotyping, and the Promise of Revisionism in the Last of the Mohicans
'The Last of the Mohicans' [1936] is probably the first film I saw as a child. It was a black-and-white 16 millimeter print, and I must have been three or four--it's the first sense memory I have of a motion picture.--Michael Mann, producer-writer-director,...
Alistair Cooke: A Tocqueville for Our Time?
As citizens of this world, especially Europeans, watched the United States grow from a mere British colony to one of the dominant nations in the world, a pattern of conversation developed among them about the meaning of this new colossus of the New World....
"Bartleby": Representation, Reproduction and the Law
By the time Melville completed Pierre, he had become profoundly skeptical about the ability of language to penetrate beneath the surface of appearances and reveal something about the mystery underlying reality. His hero's dilemma expressed this skepticism....
Book Reviews -- American Fiction in the Cold War by Thomas Hill Schaub
The literature about politics and society in the Cold War period in the United States is enormous, with many more excellent studies of many more kinds than a busy McCarthyite or Stalinist could have tossed an accusation of subversion or charge of heresy...
Book Reviews -- Common Whites: Class and Culture in Antebellum North Carolina by Bill Cecil-Fronsman
Following in the footsteps of such historians as Eugene Genovest, John Blassingame, Herbert Gutman, Lawrence Levine and Sterling Stuckey, who were concerned with other main streams of Southern history, Cecil-Fronsman tries in this volume to explain the...
Book Reviews -- Crime and Punishment in Canada: A History by D. Owen Carrigan
People interested in the growth of crime in the U.S. and the assumed lack of it in Canada will be surprised at the close parallel of growth in the two countries. From the earliest fur-trading days, Canadians of all classes--British, French, native Americans--have...
Book Reviews -- Derelict Landscapes: The Wasting of America's Built Environment by John A. Jakle and David A. Wilson
In this thought-provoking and insightful work, Jakle and Wilson seek to unearth the tangled roots of contemporary landscape dereliction in the U.S. Although neglect and abandonment of both rural and urban built environments have long been a common, if...
Book Reviews -- Embattled Eros: Sexual Politics and Ethics in Contemporary America by Steven Seidman
The thesis of this book is easily stated: the heart of contemporary American sexual conflicts is a struggle between two sexual ideologies: 1) a libertarian sexual ideology which views sex as having multiple meanings and having positive, joyous and beneficial...
Book Reviews -- in Pursuit of Fame: Rembrandt Peale, 1778-1860 by Lillian B. Miller
Most people who have more than a passing knowledge of nineteenth-century American painting are aware of many of the substantial number of paintings Rembrandt Peale produced in a career extending over 60 years. Given our familiarity with his Patriae Pater,...
Book Reviews -- Magic Lands: Western Cityscapes and American Culture after 1940 by John M. Findlay
In many ways this book recapitulates the American Dream and experience as it has played out in this country from the beginning. From the start Americans had to deal with plenty of space, which was different from any they had known before. People on the...
Book Reviews -- M.I.A. or Mythmaking in America by H. Bruce Franklin
The history of the United States' obsession (no other term is strong enough), with the notion that its soldiers are still alive in Southeast Asia, tortured and imprisoned and awaiting rescue, is fascinating in and of itself, a story that needed to be...
Book Reviews -- Nathaniel Hawthorne: Tradition and Revolution by Charles Swann
The latest volume in Cambridge Studies in American Literature and Culture, this book explores Hawthorne's complex attitude towards the powerful and invariably conflicting claims of history and change. Mercifully avoiding the kind of critical jargon that...
Book Reviews -- Sea Changes: British Emigration & American Literature by Stephen Fender
This study is an admirable move into research materials which for too long have lain untouched by scholars, that is, diaries, letters/manuscripts and other such records. The author is very self-conscious in his use of these materials. He insists that...
Book Reviews -- the Alabama Angels by Mary Barwick / the Alabama Angels in Anywhere, L.A. (Lower Alabama) by Mary Barwick
Concerning her efforts to find a publisher for her first children's book, Alabama Angels, Mary Barwick recalls: "New York publishers thought it was a regional book. Southern publishers thought it was a national one" (Garland Reeves, "Alabama Angels Enters...
Book Reviews -- the Most Southern Place on Earth: The Mississippi Delta and the Roots of Regional Identity by James C. Cobb
Though well written and thorough, this is not a comfortable book to read. It breathes too fully with the truth of privilege, of elitism, of racial subjugation and potential general human depravity. Cobb's work burns with truth.That portion of Mississippi...
Death of a Salesman and American Leadership: Life Imitates Art
Death of a Salesman hit the American stage in 1949, catapulting Arthur Miller into the status of the "greats" of American dramatists. While the play was never without its critics, who argued over whether the play could appropriately be called a "tragedy,"...
John Saxton Sumner of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice: A Chief Smut-Eradicator of the Interwar Period
In 1873, topics of conversation among informed Americans included the increased use of contraceptive devices, radical advocacy of "free love," rising sales of pornographic books and magazines and the large number of prostitutes on the streets of major...
On American Time: Mythopoesis and the Marketplace
Literary characterizations of time as a thief or a cheat are common to most if not all Western literatures. Poetical and fictional treatments of time in continental and British fiction and poetry are generally expressed in four fashions: as elegies or...
Stereography and the Standardization of Vision
Stereographs, in vogue between 1870 and 1910 and decreasingly thereafter until the medium expired in the late 1930s, were commonplace items in many American homes, save those of the poor and lower working class (Jenkins 50). Perhaps one-half of the 16...
Straight Man and Clown in the Picture Books of Arnold Lobel
With the death of Arnold Lobel at the age of only 54 in 1987 America lost one of its best and most popular children's book creators. "Easy readers," books designed for beginning readers, seldom win the major children's literature awards because they...
The Importance of Collecting Histories of Texas Ranches
One of the sadly neglected areas in the study of culture in Texas and other areas of the West is the founding and operating of ranches. It is true that some of the larger ranches have been the subject of research and writing, for books are available...
Zoot-Suit Culture and the Black Press
During World War II blacks were nationally identified as Zoot-Suiters, and New York's Harlem was considered by some as the Zoot-Suit capital. Eddie "Rochester" Anderson in the film Star Spangled Rhythm (1942) and Cab Calloway in Stormy Weather (1943)...