As the end of the century approaches, many predict our fin de siècle will mirror the nineteenth-century decline into decadence. But a better model for the 1990s is to be found, according to Joan DeJean, in the culture wars of France in the 1690s—the time of a battle of the books known as the Quarrel between the Ancients and the Moderns.
DeJean brilliantly reassesses our current culture wars from the perspective of that earlier fin de siècle (the first to think of itself as such), and rereads the seventeenth-century Quarrel from the vantage of our own warring "ancients" and "moderns." In so doing, DeJean shows that a fin de siècle taking place in the shadow of culture wars can be more a source of constructive cultural revolution than of apocalyptic gloom and doom. Just as the first fin de siècle's battle of the books served as the spark that set off the Enlightenment, introducing radically new sexual and social politics that laid the groundwork for modernity, so can our current culture wars result in radical, liberating changes—if we take an active stand against our own "ancients" who seek to stifle such reforms.
Beginning with a short intellectual history of the academic culture wars, Eric Adler’s book examines popular polemics including those by Allan Bloom and Dinesh D’Souza, and considers the oddly marginal role of classical studies in these conflicts. In presenting a brief history of classics in American education, the volume sheds light on the position of the humanities in general.
Adler dissects three significant controversies from the era: the so-called AJP affair, which supposedly pitted a conservative journal editor against his feminist detractors; the brouhaha surrounding Martin Bernal’s contentious Black Athena project; and the dustup associated with Victor Davis Hanson and John Heath’s fire-breathing jeremiad, Who Killed Homer? He concludes by considering these controversies as a means to end the crisis for classical studies in American education. How can the study of antiquity—and the humanities—thrive in the contemporary academy? This book provides workable solutions to end the crisis for classics and for the humanities as well.
This major work also includes findings from a Web survey of American classical scholars, offering the first broadly representative impression of what they think about their discipline and its prospects for the future. Adler also conducted numerous in-depth interviews with participants in the controversies discussed, allowing readers to gain the most reliable information possible about these controversies.
Those concerned about the liberal arts and the best way to educate young Americans should read this book. Accessible and jargon-free, this narrative of scholarly scandals and their context makes for both enjoyable and thought-provoking reading.
"Irene Taviss Thomson gives us a nuanced portrait of American social politics that helps explain both why we are drawn to the idea of a 'culture war' and why that misrepresents what is actually going on."
---Rhys H. Williams, Professor and Chair, Department of Sociology, Loyola University Chicago
"An important work showing---beneath surface conflict---a deep consensus on a number of ideals by social elites."
---John H. Evans, Department of Sociology, University of California, San Diego
The idea of a culture war, or wars, has existed in America since the 1960s---an underlying ideological schism in our country that is responsible for the polarizing debates on everything from the separation of church and state, to abortion, to gay marriage, to affirmative action. Irene Taviss Thomson explores this notion by analyzing hundreds of articles addressing hot-button issues over two decades from four magazines: National Review, Time, The New Republic, and The Nation, as well as a wide array of other writings and statements from a substantial number of public intellectuals.
What Thomson finds might surprise you: based on her research, there is no single cultural divide or cultural source that can account for the positions that have been adopted. While issues such as religion, homosexuality, sexual conduct, and abortion have figured prominently in public discussion, in fact there is no single thread that unifies responses to each of these cultural dilemmas for any of the writers.
Irene Taviss Thomson is Professor Emeritus of Sociology, having taught in the Department of Social Sciences and History at Fairleigh Dickinson University for more than 30 years. Previously, she taught in the Department of Sociology at Harvard University.
In Culture Wars in Brazil Daryle Williams analyzes the contentious politicking over the administration, meaning, and look of Brazilian culture that marked the first regime of president-dictator Getúlio Vargas (1883–1954). Examining a series of interconnected battles waged among bureaucrats, artists, intellectuals, critics, and everyday citizens over the state’s power to regulate and consecrate the field of cultural production, Williams argues that the high-stakes struggles over cultural management fought between the Revolution of 1930 and the fall of the Estado Novo dictatorship centered on the bragging rights to brasilidade—an intangible yet highly coveted sense of Brazilianness. Williams draws on a rich selection of textual, pictorial, and architectural sources in his exploration of the dynamic nature of educational film and radio, historical preservation, museum management, painting, public architecture, and national delegations organized for international expositions during the unsettled era in which modern Brazil’s cultural canon took definitive form. In his close reading of the tensions surrounding official policies of cultural management, Williams both updates the research of the pioneer generation of North American Brazilianists, who examined the politics of state building during the Vargas era, and engages today’s generation of Brazilianists, who locate the construction of national identity of modern Brazil in the Vargas era. By integrating Brazil into a growing body of literature on the cultural dimensions of nations and nationalism, Culture Wars in Brazil will be important reading for students and scholars of Latin American history, state formation, modernist art and architecture, and cultural studies.
In this book, Muir explores an era of cultural innovation that promoted free inquiry in the face of philosophical and theological orthodoxy, advocated libertine morals, critiqued the tyranny of aristocratic fathers over their daughters, and expanded the theatrical potential of grand opera. In so doing, he reveals the distinguished past of today's culture wars, including debates about the place of women in society, the clash between science and faith, and the power of the arts to stir emotions.
This lively and controversial work critiques the conservative efforts in the 1970s and 1980s to undo the educational reforms of the 1960s, to reestablish control over the curriculum, and to change the nature of the debate and the goals of education.
"An outstanding work of educational theory and history."—John Coatsworth, University of Chicago
In The Enemy Within, Gilbert D. Chaitin deepens our understanding of the nature and sources of culture wars during the French Third Republic. The psychological trauma caused by the Ferry educational reform laws of 1880-1882, which strove to create a new national identity based on secular morality rather than God-given commandments, pitted Catholics against proponents of lay education and gave rise to novels by Bourget, Barrès, A. France, and Zola.
By deploying Lacanian concepts to understand the “erotics of politics” revealed in these novels, Chaitin examines the formation of national identity, offering a new intellectual history of the period and shedding light on the intimate relations among literature, education, philosophy, morality, and political order. The mechanisms described in The Enemy Within provide fresh insight into the affective structure of culture wars not only in the French Third Republic but elsewhere in the world today.
After the Supreme Court's rejection of legal movie censorship in the 1950s and the demise of the Hays Production Code in the 1960s, various public groups have emerged as media watch dogs, replacing nearly all other sources of control. Responding to explicit violence against women, negative stereotypes of gay and lesbian images, "racist" representations, and "blasphemous" interpretations of the Bible, groups from bot Left and Right have staged protests in front of theaters and boycotted movie studios. The New Censors shows how groups on the Left empowered by social movements in the 1960s, and groups on the Right propelled by the successes of the New Christian Right and "The Moral Majority," have used similar strategies in attempting to control movie content.
The New Censors, the first study of the complex ways movies have been shaped in the years since the demise of the Code, covers a wide range of movies, protests, and government actions. From feminists against "Dressed to Kill," to religious campaigns against "The Last Temptation of Christ," to homosexuals ire over "Basic Instinct," Lyons links a study of public outrage against movies to the broader culture wars over "family values," pornography, and various lifestyle issues.
This book provides a contemporary history of controversial movies and a timely discussion of how cultural politics continues to affect the movie industry.