American Culture, American Tastes: Social Change and the 20th Century

Front Cover
Basic Books, Oct 5, 2000 - History - 352 pages
2 Reviews
In American Culture, American Tastes, Michael Kammen leads us on an entertaining, thought-provoking tour of America's changing tastes, uses of leisure, and the shifting perceptions that have accompanied them throughout our nation's history. Starting at the point in time that late-nineteenth-century popular culture began to evolve into post-WWII mass culture, Kammen charts the influence of advertising and opinion polling; the development of standardized products, shopping centers, and mass marketing; the separation of youth and adult culture; the relationship between "high" and "low" art; the commercialization of organized entertainment; and the ways in which television has shaped mass culture and consumerism has reconfigured it. In doing so, he draws from sources as varied and rich as the work of esteemed cultural theorists, "The Simpsons," jigsaw puzzles, Walter Winchell's gossip columns, Whitman's poetry, Warhol's art, "Sesame Street," and the Book-of-the-Month Club.With wit and ingenuity Kammen traces the emergence of American mass culture and the contested meanings of leisure, taste, consumer culture, and social divisions that it has spawned.

What people are saying - Write a review

AMERICAN CULTURE, AMERICAN TASTES: Social Change and the 20th Century

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Pulitzer-winning historian Kammen (Cornell; In the Past Lane, 1997; People of Paradox, 1972; etc.) offers a thoughtful essay on the evolution of leisure in America from the late 19th century to today ... Read full review

American culture, American tastes: social change and the 20th century

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

The prize-winning Kammen (American history, Cornell; Mystic Chords of Memory) is first among equals of academics devoted to American intellectual and cultural history. In his 15th book, he considers ... Read full review


Coming to Terms with Defining Terms
Distinction or Degradation? 2 7
Consumerism Americanism and the Phasing
Popular Culture in Transitionand in Its Prime
Blurring the Boundaries Between Time Levels
Cultural Criticism and the Transformation
Tie Gradual Emergence of Mass Culture and Its Critics
Historians and the Problem of Popular Culture
o Meetings of the Minds? Moving Beyond Customary

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2000)

Michael Kammen is the Newton C. Farr Professor of American History and Culture at Cornell University. He is the author most recently of In the Past Lane, The Lively Arts, and Mystic Chords of Memory.

Bibliographic information