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This book examines literary authorship in the twentieth century and covers such topics as publishing, book distribution, the trade editor, the literary agent, the magazine market, subsidiary rights, and the blockbuster mentality.
Rogue Radio Broadcasters of the Jazz Age
When American radio broadcasting began in the early 1920s there was a consensus among middle-class opinion makers that the airwaves must never be used for advertising. Even the national advertising industry agreed that the miraculous new medium was destined for higher cultural purposes. And yet, within a decade American broadcasting had become commercialized and has remained so ever since.
Much recent scholarship treats this unsought commercialization as a coup, imposed from above by mercenary corporations indifferent to higher public ideals. Such research has focused primarily on metropolitan stations operated by the likes of AT&T, Westinghouse, and General Electric. In American Babel, Clifford J. Doerksen provides a colorful alternative social history centered on an overlooked class of pioneer broadcaster—the independent radio stations.
Doerksen reveals that these "little" stations often commanded large and loyal working-class audiences who did not share the middle-class aversion to broadcast advertising. In urban settings, the independent stations broadcast jazz and burlesque entertainment and plugged popular songs for Tin Pan Alley publishers. In the countryside, independent stations known as "farmer stations" broadcast "hillbilly music" and old-time religion. All were unabashed in their promotional practices and paved the way toward commercialization with their innovations in programming, on-air style, advertising methods, and direct appeal to target audiences. Corporate broadcasters, who aspired to cultural gentility, were initially hostile to the populist style of the independents but ultimately followed suit in the 1930s.
Drawing on a rich array of archives and contemporary print sources, each chapter of American Babel looks at a particular station and the personalities behind the microphone. Doerksen presents this group of independents as an intensely colorful, perpetually interesting lot and weaves their stories into an expansive social and cultural narrative to explain more fully the rise of the commercial network system of the 1930s.
Social Thought and Political Economy in the Twentieth Century
At the dawn of the twenty-first century, the legitimacy of American capitalism seems unchallenged. The link between open markets, economic growth, and democratic success has become common wisdom, not only among policy makers but for many intellectuals as well. In this instance, however, the past has hardly been prologue to contemporary confidence in the free market. American Capitalism presents thirteen thought-provoking essays that explain how a variety of individuals, many prominent intellectuals but others partisans in the combative world of business and policy, engaged with anxieties about the seismic economic changes in postwar America and, in the process, reconfigured the early twentieth-century ideology that put critique of economic power and privilege at its center.
The essays consider a broad spectrum of figures—from C. L. R. James and John Kenneth Galbraith to Peter Drucker and Ayn Rand—and topics ranging from theories of Cold War "convergence" to the rise of the philanthropic Right. They examine how the shift away from political economy at midcentury paved the way for the 1960s and the "culture wars" that followed. Contributors interrogate what was lost and gained when intellectuals moved their focus from political economy to cultural criticism. The volume thereby offers a blueprint for a dramatic reevaluation of how we should think about the trajectory of American intellectual history in twentieth-century United States.
Selected by Choice magazine as an Outstanding Academic Title
The experiences of children in America have long been a source of scholarly fascination and general interest. In American Childhoods, Joseph Illick brings together his own extensive research and a synthesis of literature from a range of disciplines to present the first comprehensive cross-cultural history of childhood in America.
Beginning with American Indians, European settlers, and African slaves and their differing perceptions of how children should be raised, American Childhoods moves to the nineteenth century and the rise of industrialization to introduce the offspring of the emerging urban middle and working classes. Illick reveals that while rural and working-class children continued to toil from an early age, as they had in the colonial period, childhood among the urban middle class became recognized as a distinct phase of life, with a continuing emphasis on gender differences.
Illick then discusses how the public school system was created in the nineteenth century to assimilate immigrants and discipline all children, and observes its major role in age-grouping children as well as drawing working-class youngsters from factories to classrooms. At the same time, such social problems as juvenile delinquency were confronted by private charities and, ultimately, by the state. Concluding his sweeping study, the author presents the progeny of suburban, inner-city, and rural Americans in the twentieth century, highlighting the growing disparity of opportunities available to children of decaying cities and the booming suburbs.
Consistently making connections between economics, psychology, commerce, sociology, and anthropology, American Childhoods is rich with insight into the elusive world of children. Grounded firmly in social and cultural history and written in lucid, accessible prose, the book demonstrates how children's experiences have varied dramatically through time and across space, and how the idea of childhood has meant vastly different things to different groups in American society.
A. J. Muste and the History of Radicalism in the Twentieth Century
When Abraham Johannes Muste died in 1967, newspapers throughout the world referred to him as the "American Gandhi." Best known for his role in the labor movement of the 1930s and his leadership of the peace movement in the postwar era, Muste was one of the most charismatic figures of the American left in his time. Had he written the story of his life, it would also have been the story of social and political struggles in the United States during the twentieth century.
In American Gandhi, Leilah Danielson establishes Muste's distinctive activism as the work of a prophet and a pragmatist. Muste warned that the revolutionary dogmatism of the Communist Party would prove a dead end, understood the moral significance of racial equality, argued early in the Cold War that American pacifists should not pick a side, and presaged the spiritual alienation of the New Left from the liberal establishment. At the same time, Muste committed to grounding theory in practice and the individual in community. His open, pragmatic approach fostered some of the most creative and remarkable innovations in progressive thought and practice in the twentieth century, including the adaptation of Gandhian nonviolence for American concerns and conditions.
A political biography of Muste's evolving political and religious views, American Gandhi also charts the rise and fall of American progressivism over the course of the twentieth century and offers the possibility of its renewal in the twenty-first.
Economy and Environment in American Literature, 1580-1864
In classical terms the georgic celebrates the working landscape, cultivated to become fruitful and prosperous, in contrast to the idealized or fanciful landscapes of the pastoral. Arguing that economic considerations must become central to any understanding of the human community's engagement with the natural environment, Timothy Sweet identifies a distinct literary mode he calls the American georgic.
Offering a fresh approach to ecocritical and environmentally-oriented literary studies, Sweet traces the history of the American georgic from its origins in late sixteenth-century English literature promoting the colonization of the Americas through the mid-nineteenth century, ending with George Perkins Marsh's Man and Nature (1864), the foundational text in the conservationist movement.
Nine Clashing Visions on the Supreme Court
In this provocative and insightful book, constitutional scholar and journalist Garrett Epps reviews the key decisions of the 2013-2014 Supreme Court term through the words of the nation's nine most powerful legal authorities. Epps succinctly outlines one opinion or dissent from each of the justices during the recent term, using it to illuminate the political and ideological views that prevail on the Court. The result is a highly readable summary of the term's most controversial cases as well as a probing investigation of the issues and personalities that shape the Court's decisions.
Accompanied by a concise overview of Supreme Court procedure and brief case summaries, American Justice 2014 is an engaging and instructive read for seasoned Court-watchers as well as legal novices eager for an introduction to the least-understood branch of government. This revealing portrait of a year in legal action dramatizes the ways that the Court has come to reflect and encourage the polarization that increasingly defines American politics.
The antebellum period has long been identified with the belated emergence of a truly national literature. And yet, as Meredith L. McGill argues, a mass market for books in this period was built and sustained through what we would call rampant literary piracy: a national literature developed not despite but because of the systematic copying of foreign works. Restoring a political dimension to accounts of the economic grounds of antebellum literature, McGill unfolds the legal arguments and political struggles that produced an American "culture of reprinting" and held it in place for two crucial decades.
In this culture of reprinting, the circulation of print outstripped authorial and editorial control. McGill examines the workings of literary culture within this market, shifting her gaze from first and authorized editions to reprints and piracies, from the form of the book to the intersection of book and periodical publishing, and from a national literature to an internally divided and transatlantic literary marketplace. Through readings of the work of Dickens, Poe, and Hawthorne, McGill seeks both to analyze how changes in the conditions of publication influenced literary form and to measure what was lost as literary markets became centralized and literary culture became stratified in the early 1850s. American Literature and the Culture of Reprinting, 1834-1853 delineates a distinctive literary culture that was regional in articulation and transnational in scope, while questioning the grounds of the startlingly recent but nonetheless powerful equation of the national interest with the extension of authors' rights.
A Political Institution
As states across the country battle internally over same-sex marriage in the courts, in legislatures, and at the ballot box, activists and scholars grapple with its implications for the status of gays and lesbians and for the institution of marriage itself. Yet, the struggle over same-sex marriage is only the most recent political and public debate over marriage in the United States. What is at stake for those who want to restrict marriage and for those who seek to extend it? Why has the issue become such a national debate? These questions can be answered only by viewing marriage as a political institution as well as a religious and cultural one.
In its political dimension, marriage circumscribes both the meaning and the concrete terms of citizenship. Marriage represents communal duty, moral education, and social and civic status. Yet, at the same time, it represents individual choice, contract, liberty, and independence from the state. According to Priscilla Yamin, these opposing but interrelated sets of characteristics generate a tension between a politics of obligations on the one hand and a politics of rights on the other. To analyze this interplay, American Marriage examines the status of ex-slaves at the close of the Civil War, immigrants at the turn of the twentieth century, civil rights and women's rights in the 1960s, and welfare recipients and gays and lesbians in the contemporary period. Yamin argues that at moments when extant political and social hierarchies become unstable, political actors turn to marriage either to stave off or to promote political and social changes. Some marriages are pushed as obligatory and necessary for the good of society, while others are contested or presented as dangerous and harmful. Thus political struggles over race, gender, economic inequality, and sexuality have been articulated at key moments through the language of marital obligations and rights. Seen this way, marriage is not outside the political realm but interlocked with it in mutual evolution.
Crisis and Reform
Successful home ownership requires the availability of appropriate mortgage products. In the years leading up to the collapse of the housing market, home buyers frequently accepted mortgages that were not only wrong for them but catastrophic for the economy as a whole. When the housing market bubble burst, so did a cornerstone of the American dream for many families. Restoring the promise of this dream requires an unflinching inspection of lending institutions and the right tools to repair the structures that support solid home purchases. The American Mortgage System: Crisis and Reform focuses on the causes of the housing market collapse and proposes solutions to prevent another rash of foreclosures.
Edited by two leaders in the field of real estate and finance, Susan M. Wachter and Marvin M. Smith, The American Mortgage System examines key elements of the mortgage meltdown. The volume's contributors address the influence of the Community Reinvestment Act, which is often blamed for the crisis. They uncover how the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac invested outside the housing market with disastrous results. They present surprising information about low-income borrowers and the strengths of local banks. This collection of thoughtful studies includes extensive analysis of loan practices and the creation of unstable mortgage securities, presenting data largely unavailable until now. More than a critique, The American Mortgage System offers solutions to the problems facing the future of American home ownership, including identifying asset price bubbles, calculating risk, and preventing discrimination in lending.
Measured yet timely and by turns provocative, The American Mortgage System provides a careful assessment of a troubled but indispensable part of the economic and social structure of the United States. This book is a sound investment for economists, urban planners, and all who shape public policy.