Cover

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Contents

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Introduction: A Genealogy of Postwar American Modernism

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pp. 1-17

In April 1949, the San Francisco Art Association held a three-day “Western Round Table on Modern Art,” bringing together an eclectic group of artists, critics, and curators to discuss the state of modernism in America. Held at the San Francisco Museum of Art, the round table was designed

PART I: High Modernism in America: Self and Society in the Early Cold War

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One: Science, Postmodernity, and the Rise of High Modernism

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pp. 21-53

In July 1945 Vannevar Bush, director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development, submitted a presidential report titled Science: The Endless Frontier in which he detailed a plan for federal support of scientific research in peacetime. With a certain utopian flourish, Bush argued...

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Two: Reconsidering the Authoritarian Personality in America: The Sociological Challenge of David Riesman

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pp. 54-89

In a 1961 revision of an Art News article, “New York Painting Only Yesterday,” Clement Greenberg, reflective and triumphant, proclaimed that “someday it will have to be told how ‘anti-Stalinism,’ which started out more or less as ‘Trotskyism,’ turned into art for art’s sake, and thereby cleared...

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Three: Psychoanalysis and the Debate over the Democratic Personality: Norman Brown’s Freudian Revisions

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pp. 90-124

In his 1955 book Freud and the Crisis of Our Culture, Lionel Trilling, enthusiastic but slightly concerned, noted that psychoanalysis had surprisingly become “an integral part of our modern intellectual apparatus.”1 Pointing to the use of Freudian ideas in every part of American culture, from...

PART II: The Revolt of Romantic Modernism: Beatniks, Action Painters, and Reichians

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Four. A Question of Character: The Dramaturgy of Erving Goffman and C. Wright Mills

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pp. 127-163

In William Burroughs’s 1952 novel Queer, the narrator, William Lee, travels from Mexico City to South America in search of a plant called yage, which, as Lee explains, is used by Russian leaders “to induce states of automatic and ultimately, of course, thought control.”1 Noting that officials...

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Five: Beyond Primitivism and the Fellahin: Receiving James Baldwin’s Gift of Love

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pp. 164-196

During the first testing of the atomic bomb on July 16, 1945, in the New Mexico desert, the scientific personnel who witnessed the explosion related how they were unable to translate their experience into adequate words. Those who did offer words realized that even...

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Six: Masculinity, Spontaneity, and the Act: The Bodily Ego of Jasper Johns

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pp. 197-235

At a 1960 solo exhibition in New York, the abstract artist Jasper Johns presented his bluntest statement about the hostile atmosphere of the New York art scene. Having recently achieved notoriety for his 1958 one-man show at the Leo Castelli Gallery, where he exhibited his infamous ...

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Seven: Rethinking the Feminine Within: The Cultural Politics of James Baldwin

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pp. 236-270

In 1954 Jack Kerouac completed his only science fiction story, “cityCityCITY,” a portentous, dystopian vision of America. Written during the Army-McCarthy hearings and reflecting his concerns about the excessive use of power by the Wisconsin senator, Kerouac’s story, as he described ...

PART III: The Challenge of Late Modernism

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Eight. Rhetoric and the Politics of Identification Writ Large: The Late Modernism of Kenneth Burke, C. Wright Mills, and Ralph Ellison

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pp. 273-308

One late summer evening William Burroughs appeared in front of the Moka Bar, a London establishment that had recently offended him through poor table service and unappetizing cheesecake, and blasted a tape recording of street noise and other assorted sounds.1 Burroughs...

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Conclusion. The Legacy of Late Modernism

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pp. 309-324

On April 21, 1964, Andy Warhol held a public party at the Factory, his fifth-floor art studio on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan. For the first time, Warhol allowed art critics and New York socialites to view his new studio, which he and his assistant Billy Linich had spent several...

Notes

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pp. 325-362

Index

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pp. 363-371

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 373-375

Like most academic works, this book took much too long to write. In many ways, I should offer an apology to everyone in my life for having spent so much time completing this. I have been very lucky that a seemingly endless number of people have stood by me over the years, and I am...