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From Walden Pond to Jurassic Park: Activism, Culture, & American Studies (New Americanists)by Paul Lauter
Synopses & Reviews
Paul Lauter, an icon of American Studies who has been a primary agent in its transformation and its chief ambassador abroad, offers a wide-ranging collection of essays that demonstrate and reflect on this important and often highly politicized discipline. While American Studies was formerly seen as a wholly subsidiary academic program that loosely combined the study of American history, literature, and art, From Walden Pond to Jurassic Park reveals the evolution of an independent, highly interdisciplinary program with distinctive subjects, methods, and goals that are much different than the traditional academic departments that nurtured it.
With anecdote peppered discussions ranging from specific literary texts and movies to the future of higher education and the efficacy of unions, From Walden Pond to Jurassic Park entertains even as it offers a twenty-first century account of how and why Americanists at home and abroad now do what they do. Drawing on his forty-five years of teaching and research as well as his experience as a political activist and a cultural radical, Lauter shows how a multifaceted increase in the United States’ global dominion has infused a particular political urgency into American Studies. With its military and economic influence, its cultural and linguistic reach, the United States is—for better or for worse—too formidable and potent not to be understood clearly and critically.
Explores the changes that have occurred in the field of American Studies over the past 40 years.
About the Author
“A rich and multifaceted assessment of the field. By interspersing chapters that focus in great detail on a single aspect of American Studies with broader chapters that help contextualize his arguments, Lauter has provided readers with a remarkably thorough, exciting, and satisfying work.”—Emory Elliott, University of California, Riverside
“Every page of this book gives evidence of an academic life spent in and for American Studies. Lauter covers a wide range of topics between the politics of cultural and literary texts and the politics in and beyond the classroom. In a sense, it offers the story of a lifetime—his own and that of his generation.”—Heinz Ickstadt, Freie Universität Berlin
“Paul Lauter, who has been a leading figure in the movement to expand the canon of American literature, is ideally placed to tell the story of American Studies. This book is news.”—Cathy N. Davidson, Former President, American Studies Association
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