A Time to Every Purpose: The Four Seasons in American Culture

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University of North Carolina Press, 2004 - Art - 336 pages
In artworks from a mosaic by Marc Chagall to schoolchildren's paintings, in writings from Susan Fenimore Cooper to Annie Dillard, and in diverse print sources from family genealogical registers to seed catalogs, the four seasons appear and reappear as a theme in American culture.

In this richly illustrated book, Michael Kammen traces the appeal of the four seasons motif in American popular culture and fine arts from the seventeenth century to the present. Its symbolism has evolved through the years, Kammen explains, serving as a metaphor for the human life cycle or religious faith, expressing nostalgia for rural life, and sometimes praising seasonal beauty in the diverse American landscape as the most spectacular in the world. Kammen also highlights artists' and writers' shift in attention from the glories of seasonal peaks to the dynamics of seasonal transitions as American life continued to accelerate and change through the twentieth century.

Few symbols have been as pervasive, meaningful, and symptomatic in the human experience as the four seasons, and as Kammen shows, in its American context the annual cycle has been an abundant and abiding source of inspiration in the nation's cultural history.

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User Review  - Big_Bang_Gorilla - LibraryThing

Being a critical survey of works, primarily literature and art, which treat of the four seasons. The author is erudite and insightful at times, but his poor choice of emphases limits the book's ... Read full review

Contents

Section 1
7
Section 2
11
Section 3
13
Copyright

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About the author (2004)

Michael Gedaliah Kammen was born in Rochester, New York on October 25, 1936. He received a bachelor's degree in history from George Washington University and master's and doctoral degrees in history from Harvard University. He was a professor of American history and culture at Cornell University since 1965. He wrote numerous books including A Season of Youth, A Machine That Would Go of Itself, Mystic Chords of Memory: The Transformation of Tradition in American Culture, Visual Shock, and Digging Up the Dead: A History of Notable American Reburials. He received the 1973 Pulitzer Prize for history for People of Paradox: An Inquiry Concerning the Origins of American Civilization. He died on November 29, 2013 at the age of 77.

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