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by Lawrence W. Levine

  • ISBN: 0195082974
  • Author: Lawrence W. Levine
  • ePub ver: 1218 kb
  • Fb2 ver: 1218 kb
  • Rating: 4.6 of 5
  • Language: English
  • Pages: 384
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (June 3, 1993)
  • Formats: lit docx mobi doc
  • Category: Other
  • Subcategory: Humanities
epub The Unpredictable Past: Explorations in American Cultural History download

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Home Browse Books Book details, The Unpredictable Past: Explorations in American. The Unpredictable Past: Explorations in American Cultural History. By Lawrence W. Levine. In this brilliant new collection of essays, Lawrence W. Levine, one of our premier writers of history and President-Elect of the Organization of American Historians, offers an incisive response to the controversy which rages in the academy today. This debate among historians does not concern, as one might think, conflicting interpretations of the past, but rather concentrates upon which past events, peoples, and cultures are significant enough to deserve our attention.

The Unpredictable Past offers eloquent discussions of American history and historiography at large, African-American .

The Unpredictable Past offers eloquent discussions of American history and historiography at large, African-American culture, and, perhaps most fascinating, the times of the Great Depression during which film, radio, photography, and even the comic strip emerged as significant manifestat.

The Unpredictable Past is a brilliant reminder of why Lawrence W. Levine has long been required reading for . Students of American cultural history will be glad of the chance this book provides to see Levine's important work steadily and whole. Levine has long been required reading for everyone interested in American culture and its history. -Henry Louis Gates, J. Harvard University. Lawrence Levine scrutinizes American culture that is popular-in Depression era movie theaters, nineteenth-century black neighborhoods, and, even the audience of a historians' professional meeting as the generations were changing.

The future is certain," according to an old Soviet joke, "it is only the past that is unpredictable. But it is not solely in totalitarian societies that the past is contested terrain

The future is certain," according to an old Soviet joke, "it is only the past that is unpredictable. But it is not solely in totalitarian societies that the past is contested terrain. Disagreements about the meaning and significance of past events and people have been part of the landscape in our own society from its inception. To the historian, therefore, the unpredictability of the past is no laughing matter.

Levine uses the photographs of the Great Depression as examples of why visual sources require context to be useful to historians

Levine uses the photographs of the Great Depression as examples of why visual sources require context to be useful to historians. He writes, Photographic images, like statistics, do not lie, but like statistics the truths they communicate are elusive and incomplete (pg.

The Unpredictable Past book. The Unpredictable Past is a brilliant reminder of why Lawrence W. - Henry Louis Gates, J.

The Unpredictable Past: Explorations in American Cultural History. Oxford University Press. Levine, Lawrence W. (1997). The Opening of the American Mind: Canons, Culture and History. ISBN 978-0-19-508297-5. ISBN 978-0-8070-3119-3. Lawrence W. Levine and Cornelia R. Levine (2002). The People and the President: America's Conversation with FDR. Beacon Press.

In this book, fourteen chapters, written over two decades, cover American history, historiography, aspects of black culture, and American popular culture (during the Great Depression). Some deal with such related topics as the transfer of African culture to America, Marcus Garvey as a black leader, the development of black culture in the 1920s, and the role of jazz in American culture. Several chapters involve recent concern with American popular culture during the Great Depression of the 1930s, including such areas as film, radio, and photography.

Lawrence William Levine, American history professor. Visiting professor U. East Anglia, Norwich, England, 1967-1968, Free . Berlin, West Germany, 1977. National advisory board Center American Culture Studies Columbia University, 1983-1984.

See Lawrence W. Levine The Unpredictable Past: Explorations in American Cultural History (1993). This is the paradox: while South Africa has emerged from a period in its history in which the race of every individual played a decisive role in determining their life. aspx?id 146718; Amanda Ngwenya UCT admission policy.

"The future is certain," according to an old Soviet joke, "it is only the past that is unpredictable." But it is not solely in totalitarian societies that the past is contested terrain. Disagreements about the meaning and significance of past events and people have been part of the landscape in our own society from its inception. To the historian, therefore, the unpredictability of the past is no laughing matter. Indeed, so protracted have historical disputes become in recent years that there has been a growing conviction among many that the venerable craft of history is in a state of crisis. In this brilliant new collection of essays, Lawrence W. Levine, one of our premier writers of history and President-Elect of the Organization of American Historians, offers an incisive response to the controversy which rages in the academy today. This debate among historians does not concern, as one might think, conflicting interpretations of the past, but rather concentrates upon which past events, peoples, and cultures are significant enough to deserve our attention. Taking issue with those who desire "synthesis" above all else, Levine's book constitutes a passionate call for inclusion, a history that extends the traditional focus on the centers of political, economic, and social power to embrace the panoply of ethnic, racial, regional, occupational, class, and gender groups that have been ignored or distorted in the past, and subject areas--like folk and popular culture--that have been by-passed or denigrated as trivial. The fourteen essays included here seek not to erect new fences and shut more doors but to expand our knowledge, supplement our approaches, and broaden our historical vision. The Unpredictable Past offers eloquent discussions of American history and historiography at large, African-American culture, and, perhaps most fascinating, the times of the Great Depression during which film, radio, photography, and even the comic strip emerged as significant manifestations of a changing American popular culture. There are also trenchant examinations of folk songs and folktales, Marcus Garvey's role as a black leader in the 1920s, jazz and American culture, Hollywood's unique view of national government in Washington (especially as seen in the films of Frank Capra), even Shakespeare's role as the most popular playwright in nineteenth-century America. The immediacy of each essay is enhanced by the brief introductions that place each one not only in the context of Levine's career, but in that of American history as a whole. Through the course of the book, Levine demonstrates how history, from generation to generation, is viewed through the prism of an ever-changing present and rather than distorting our vision, offers us new ways of seeing things, fresh insights not only into the past, but into the present and the future as well. The Unpredictable Past is a remarkably wide-ranging lens for viewing the richly textured history of America.
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In “The Unpredictable Past: Explorations in American Cultural History,” Lawrence Levine cautions against the historiographical rebuttals to cultural history, writing, “If too many previous historians have tripped over their own cultural umbilical cords, it is because they were poor historians and not because they were tragic prisoners of an inevitable cultural myopia. The historian who cannot significantly transcend the culture of his youth, the needs of his present, and the hopes of his future in order to come to terms with the past deserves repudiation, but we must take care not to transform his failures into unbending laws governing all historians” (pg. 31).

Discussing Shakespeare performances in the nineteenth century, Levine writes, “The relationship of an audience to the object of its focus – be it a sermon, political speech, newspaper, musical composition, or play – is a complex one and constitutes a problem for the historian who would reconstruct it. But the problem cannot be resolved through the use of such ahistorical devices as dividing both the audience and the object into crude categories and then coming to conclusions that have more to do with the culture of the writer than that of the subject” (pg. 155-156). Turning to historians’ previous reticence to study jazz, Levine writes, “Popular Culture, in spite of its name, did not have to be truly popular in order to win the title. It merely had to be considered to be of little worth aesthetically, for that became the chief criterion: the cultural categories that became fixed around the turn of the century were aesthetic and judgmental rather than descriptive terms” (pg. 173-174). In examining the popular culture of the Great Depression, Levine uses Superman as an example of how to closely read an artifact of popular culture in the context of its time.

He writes, “This growing perception that it was less and less possible to achieve traditional ends through the existing system helped to give birth to a new folk figure in the late Depression years. In 1938, Superman made his first appearance in ‘Action Comics’ and became the prototype of a host of heroes who were to become prominent in American culture” (pg. 227). He continues, “Superman was important because his alter ego, his fake identity, Clark Kent, was a caricature of what individuals had become in an organized, depersonalized world: faceless, impotent, frustrated. Kent could transform himself by taking off his clothes; the rest of society could react through the world of the mass media” (pg. 227). Further, “The popularity of Superman symbolized public unrest with the institutions and bureaucracies that more and more shaped the contours of everyday life” (pg. 228).

Levine uses the photographs of the Great Depression as examples of why visual sources require context to be useful to historians. He writes, “Photographic images, like statistics, do not lie, but like statistics the truths they communicate are elusive and incomplete” (pg. 262). He further cautions, “An understanding that these icons reveal not merely the external but also the internal realities, not only appearances but also beliefs, is an important key to comprehending their significance and their meaning” (pg. 282).

In his final essay, Levine summarizes, “We have found it difficult to study Popular Culture seriously not primarily because of the constraints of our respective disciplines – which are indeed far more open to the uses of Popular Culture than we have allowed ourselves to believe – but because of the inhibitions inculcated in us by the society we inhabit. From an early age we’ve been taught that whatever else this stuff is, it isn’t art and it isn’t serious and it doesn’t lend itself to critical analysis” (pg. 295). Discussing the issue of audience reaction, Levine writes, “Recent literary theory sees neither the reader nor the text as necessarily controlling but rather places emphasis upon the interaction between the two. It is precisely in this realm that we have to understand the process of Popular Culture: not as the imposition of texts upon passive people who constitute a kind of tabula rasa, but as a process of interaction between complex texts which harbor more than monolithic meanings and audiences who embody more than monolithic assemblies of compliant people but who are in fact complex amalgams of cultures, tastes, and ideologies” (pg. 304). In this, Levine points the way forward for future cultural historians.

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