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The Cultural Turn in U. S. History

Past, Present, and Future

A definitive account of one of the most dominant trends in recent historical writing, The Cultural Turn in U.S. History takes stock of the field at the same time as it showcases exemplars of its practice.
The first of this volume’s three distinct sections offers a comprehensive genealogy of American cultural history, tracing its multifaceted origins, defining debates, and intersections with adjacent fields. The second section comprises previously unpublished essays by a distinguished roster of contributors who illuminate the discipline’s rich potential by plumbing topics that range from nineteenth-century anxieties about greenback dollars to confidence games in 1920s Harlem, from Shirley Temple’s career to the story of a Chicano community in San Diego that created a public park under a local freeway. Featuring an equally wide ranging selection of pieces that meditate on the future of the field, the final section explores such subjects as the different strains of cultural history, its relationships with arenas from mass entertainment to public policy, and the ways it has been shaped by catastrophe. Taken together, these essays represent a watershed moment in the life of a discipline, harnessing its vitality to offer a glimpse of the shape it will take in years to come.  

464 pages | 22 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2008

Culture Studies

History: American History, History of Ideas


"The lacerating and effete precision of the ideological wars that define cultural studies is refreshingly absent here. . . . This is an ideal book for a student or scholar who is new to the field or for an international scholar interested in exploring the American terrain of cultural studies. . . . [A] fine, gracefully written, and thoughtful volume."

John J. Pauly | Journal of American History

Table of Contents


Part I: Introduction

1          Twelve Propositions for a History of U.S. Cultural History

James W. Cook and Lawrence B. Glickman

Part II: Practicing Cultural History

Introduction by Michael O’Malley

2          A Native among the Headhunters

Ann Fabian

3          Rags, Blacking, and Paper Soldiers: Money and Race in the Civil War

Michael O’Malley

4          The Envelope, Please

Shane White, Stephen Garton, Stephen Robertson, and Graham White

5          Re-membering John Dillinger

Elliott J. Gorn

6          Behind Shirley Temple’s Smile: Children, Emotional Labor, and the Great Depression

            John F. Kasson

7          Gimme Shelter: Do-It-Yourself Defense and the Politics of Fear

Elaine Tyler May

8          “Be Real Black for Me”: Representation, Authenticity, and the Cultural Politics of Black Power

Waldo E. Martin Jr.

9          Turning Structure into Culture: Reclaiming the Freeway in San Diego’s Chicano Park

Eric Avila

Part III: Agendas for Cultural History

Introduction by Michael O’Malley

10        The Return of the Culture Industry

James W. Cook

11        On Grief and Complicity: Notes toward a Visionary Cultural History

Nan Enstad

12        From Nation to Neighborhood: Land, Policy, Culture, Colonialism, and Empire in U.S.-Indian Relations

Philip J. Deloria

13        Capitalism, Culture, and Catastrophe

Jean-Christophe Agnew

Part IV: Epilogue

14        The Art of Listening

Karen Halttunen

Notes on Contributors


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