Down with the Old Canoe: A Cultural History of the Titanic Disaster

Front Cover
W. W. Norton & Company, 1997 - History - 300 pages
10 Reviews
"I suggest, henceforth, when a woman talks women's rights, she be answered with the word Titanic, nothing more—just Titanic," wrote a St. Louis man to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He was not alone in mining the ship for a metaphor. Everyone found ammunition in the Titanic—suffragists and their opponents; radicals, reformers, and capitalists; critics of technology and modern life; racists and xenophobes and champions of racial and ethnic equality; editorial writers and folk singers, preachers and poets.

Protestant sermons used the Titanic to condemn the budding consumer society ("We know the end of . . . the undisturbed sensualists. As they sail the sea of life we know absolutely that their ship will meet disaster."). African American toasts and working-class ballads made the ship emblematic of the foolishness of white people and the greed of the rich. A 1950s revival framed the disaster as an "older kind of disaster in which people had time to die." An ever-increasing number of Titanic buffs find heroism and order in the tale. Still in the headlines ("Titanic Baby Found Alive!" the Weekly World News declares) and a figure of everyday speech ("rearranging deck chairs . . ."), the Titanic disaster echoes within a richly diverse, paradoxical, and fascinating America.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - LibraryCin - LibraryThing

This book isn't so much about the Titanic itself, as about the effect the sinking of the ship had on culture after the disaster. It looked at such things as gender, class and race; also, songs and ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - sallylou61 - LibraryThing

As the subtitle mentions, Down with the Old Canoe is a cultural history of the Titanic; it does not describe the sinking of the ship. Biel divides the book into two sections: "Meanings" and "Memories ... Read full review

Contents

PARTI MEANINGS Foreword NATURE JEERS AT OUR FOLLY
3
APRIL 1912
9
THE RULE OF THE SEA AND LAND
23
MAMMON
59
Interword A NOBLE STRUCTURE OF ENDURING STONE
85
MEMORIES Chapter 5 A NIGHT TO REMEMBER
143
ENTHUSIASTS
174
MISSION TO DESTINY
203
Afterword REARRANGING DECK CHAIRS
226
List of Abbreviations
235
Notes
239
Acknowledgments
281
Index
285
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The 1910s
David Blanke
Limited preview - 2002
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About the author (1997)

Steven Biel is the executive director of the Mahindra Humanities Center and a senior lecturer on history and literature at Harvard University.

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