American Cultural History: A Very Short Introduction

ISBN : 9780190200589

Eric Avila
168 ページ
114 x 175 mm
Very Short Introductions



  • The first book to offer a concise (but still comprehensive) look at the whole of American cultural history
  • Provides a chronological look at the development of American culture, addressing literature, music, art, film, and the rise of the Internet
  • Tells us how previous generations of Americans have imagined themselves, their nation, and their relationship to the world

In recent decades, culture—the values, attitudes, beliefs, and myths of a particular society and the objects through which they are organized—has earned prominent stature in the annals of American history. The United States often brings to mind Uncle Sam and the cowboys of the Old West, or the speeches of JFK and lyrics of Madonna. Words and images such as these have the power to represent, or contest, national, civic, and social identities. From the Boston Tea Party to the Dodgers, from the blues to Andy Warhol, dime novels to Disneyland, the history of American culture tells us how previous generations of Americans have imagined themselves, their nation, and their relationship to the world and its peoples.

This Very Short Introduction lays out a chronological map of American culture, its thematic currents, and its creation by social groups ranging from the straight-laced Puritans of colonial New England to the techies of today's Silicon Valley. In doing so, it emphasizes the role of culture in the shaping of national identity. Across the lines of race, class, gender, sexuality, religion, ethnicity, generation, and geography, diverse Americans have helped to forge a national culture with an ultimately global reach, inventing stories to underscore the problems and possibilities of an American way of life.


List of illustrations
Chapter 1: American culture in red, white and black
Chapter 2: Mass culture and mass politics, 1800—1860
Chapter 3: The Age of the City, 1860—1900
Chapter 4: The rise of culture industry, 1900-1945
Chapter 5: The suburbanization of American culture
Chapter 6: The world wide web of American culture
Further reading


Eric Avila, Associate Professor of Chicano Studies, Urban Planning, and History, University of California, Los Angeles
Eric Avila is Professor of Chicano Studies, History, and Urban Planning at UCLA. An urban cultural historian, he is the author of Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight: Fear and Fantasy in Suburban Los Angeles and The Folklore of the Freeway: Race and Revolt in the Modernist City.