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American Studies in a Moment of Danger

2001
Author:

George Lipsitz

American Studies in a Moment of Danger

A forthright look at the future of the discipline in the wake of immense social changes.

At a critical moment, this book offers a richly textured historical perspective on where our notions of national knowledge-and our sense of American Studies-have come from and where they may lead in a future of new ideas about culture and community.

Sometimes we ask, with perhaps a tinge of despair, ‘nothing we do seems to make much difference, so why study America?’ This is a book of answers. Connecting culture and politics with the social movements in which they arise, Lipsitz gives reasons why studying the United States is not merely cool, but vital to the building of a humane future.

Paul Lauter, author of From Walden Pond to Jurassic Park

What becomes of "national knowledge" in our age of globalization? If dramatic changes in technology, commerce, and social relations are undermining familiar connections between culture and place, what happens to legacies of learning that put the nation at the center of the study of history, culture, language, politics, and geography? In short, what remains of American Studies? At a critical moment, this book offers a richly textured historical perspective on where our notions of national knowledge-and our sense of American Studies-have come from and where they may lead in a future of new ideas about culture and community.

The America that seems to be disappearing before our very eyes is, George Lipsitz argues, actually the cumulative creation of yesterday’s struggles over identity, culture, and power. With examples from statistics and history, poster designs and music lyrics, Lipsitz shows how American Studies has been shaped by the social movements of the 1930s, 1960s, and 1980s. His analysis reveals the sedimented history of social movement contestation contained in contemporary popular music, visual art, and cinema.

Finally, Lipsitz identifies the ways in which the globalization of commerce and culture are producing radically new understandings of politics, performance, consumption, knowledge, and nostalgia; the changing realities present not so much a danger as a clear challenge to a still-evolving American Studies-a challenge that this book helps us to confront wisely, flexibly, and effectively.

Critical American Studies Series

Announcing a new series
Critical American Studies
George Lipsitz, series editor
This series examines recent trends in American Studies that address fundamental questions about history, culture, social structure, race, gender, sexuality, and citizenship. It examines the forces-including mass migration, global economy, the seeming weaknesses of the nation-state, and ongoing ethnic antagonisms-that compel the field to reexamine the role of culture in producing individual and collective identities.

American Studies in a Moment of Danger

George Lipsitz is professor of ethnic studies at the University of California, San Diego, where he serves as director of the Thurgood Marshall Institute. He is the author of many books, including Time Passages (see right), The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics (1998), and Dangerous Crossroads: Popular Music, Postmodernism, and the Poetics of Place (1997).

American Studies in a Moment of Danger

Sometimes we ask, with perhaps a tinge of despair, ‘nothing we do seems to make much difference, so why study America?’ This is a book of answers. Connecting culture and politics with the social movements in which they arise, Lipsitz gives reasons why studying the United States is not merely cool, but vital to the building of a humane future.

Paul Lauter, author of From Walden Pond to Jurassic Park

Lipsitz’s American Studies in a Moment of Danger is a casebook of sources for energy and optimism, combining the study of economics, politics, and popular culture with irrepressible passion and irresistable poignancy, adept above all at bringing the work of oppositional cultures to life.

American Literature

An important book for its insistent affirmation of continued American Studies work.

Virginia Quarterly Review

American Studies in a Moment of Danger

Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction

PART I. American Studies and Social Movements

1. In the Midnight Hour American Studies in a Moment of Danger
2. Sent for You Yesterday, Here You Come Today Who Needs the Thirties?
3. Dancing in the Dark Who Needs the Sixties?
4. Listening to Learn and Learning to Listen Who Needs the Eighties?

PART II. Race, Culture, and Collective Struggle

5. Like Crabs in a Barrel Why Interethnic Anti-Racism Matters Now
6. The Lion and the Spider Mapping Sexuality, Space, and Politics in Miami Music
7. Not Just Another Social Movement Poster Art and the Movimiento Chicano
8. As Unmarked as Their Place in History Genre Anxiety and Race in Seventies Cinema

PART III. Facing Up to What’s Killing You

9. “Facing Up to What’s Killing You” Urban Art and the New Social Movements
10. In the Sweet Buy and Buy Consumer Culture and American Studies
11. Taking Positions and the War of Position The Politics of Academia
12. Don’t Cry for Me, Ike and Tina American Studies at the Crossroads

Notes
Permissions

Index