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Culture in the Age of Three Worldsby Michael Denning
Synopses & Reviews
Over the last half of the twentieth century, culture moved to the foreground of political and intellectual life. Suddenly everyone discovered that culture had been mass produced like Ford’s cars; the masses had culture and culture had a mass. Culture was everywhere, no longer the property of the cultured or the cultivated. Radical social movements around the globe invented a politics of culture.
Culture In the Age of Three Worlds is a reflection on this cultural turn which was a fundamental aspect of the age of three worlds, that short half century between 1945 and 1989 when it was imagined that the world was divided into three—the capitalist first world, the communist second world, and the decolonizing third world. Recasting the legacies of British cultural studies and the radical traditions of the American studies movement in a global context, Michael Denning explores the political and intellectual battles over the meanings of culture, addresses the rise of a distinctive ‘American ideology,’ and charts the lineaments of the global cultures that emerged as three worlds gave way to one.
Book News Annotation:
Denning's (American studies, Yale) study of the ideological function of culture in the late 20th century takes as its jumping-off point that moment after World War II when, "just as an earlier bourgeois gentleman had been pleasantly surprised to find that he had been speaking prose all along, so now even Americans found that their barbaric yawp was culture. And, what's more, culture mattered—this was not your grandparents' culture, the quaint customs and artifacts collected by folklorists. Rather, under its various guises—the omnipresent commercial signscape, the unending stream of mass entertainments ... —this mass culture was part of the wealth of nations, an engine of what those intoxicated by the new discovery called a 'postindustrial' society."
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Michael Denning, a leading cultural historian, analyses the historical role of culture during the period that the first, second and third world rose, and then merged into one. This is a major study by a respected cultural historian.
Denning analyses the political and intellectual battles over the meanings of culture.
About the Author
Michael Denning teaches American Studies at Yale University. He is the author of Mechanic Accents, Cover Stories, Culture in the Age of Three Worlds, and The Cultural Front.
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