cultural history

  • Masculinity and Trauma in War and Football

    by Sarah Handley-Cousins

    Sports have been cast as a (relatively) peaceful way of inculcating a set of masculine virtues otherwise associated with war. But the experience of injury and grief will continue to confound the rules of manhood—and football fans and citizens should pay attention. 

  • Cheers... to Drinking Songs

    by R. Eric Tippin

    Drinking songs have been pervasive in human history, but profoundly divided between those framing drink as a divine gift ordered by ritual and those concerned with a party. 

  • Review: How Fitness Joined the Middle-Class Mainstream

    by Katrina Gulliver

    Natalia Mehlman Petrzela's "Fit Nation" reviews the move of exercise from the fringe to the mainstream, while examining the ways fitness culture reflects social divisions in America. 

  • You Can't Unsee the Truth About Cars

    by Andrew Ross and Julie Livingston

    Despite cultural mythology, cars are actually un-freedom machines, and drivers of inequality, particularly for racial minorities. It's a mistake for the Biden administration's infrastructure agenda to further enshrine the car as the dominant means of mobility. 

  • The History of Fashion's Turn to Embracing Fakery

    Fashion historians Valerie Steele and Einav Rabinovitch-Fox explain the historic push and pull between designers and copycats, and how recent trends have blurred the lines between authenticity and fakeness and exclusivity and popular style. 

  • What's the Path from Crunchy Counterculture to Alt-Right?

    by Kathleen Belew

    Observers have tracked a growing affinity between online adherents of natural lifestyle and alternative medicine communities and the antigovernment and white supremacist movements. Thinking about the connections disrupts our idea of a linear spectrum of political affinity from "left" to "right."

  • Lunchtime in Italy: Work, Time and Civil Society

    by Jonathan Levy

    The Italian lunchtime insists that time be organized around communal rituals and sustenance, not work. Does the utter foreignness of this attitude in America help explain the current national derangement? 

  • Who Still Needs the Carnivalesque?

    by Ed Simon

    Despite its repeated theorization, the political meaning of carnivals and the social inversions they temporarily enable remains hotly debated. 

  • The Shift from Norms to Boundaries Explains the Problem of TMI

    "Too Much Information" is a social error that arises from the need for individuals to determine their own boundaries and match their expression to others'. But longing for firmer rules of etiquette should be tempered by understanding how those rules were based in ideas about whose voices should be heard. 

  • "Passion Plays": The Overlap of Sports Fandom and American Christianity

    by Paul Emory Putz

    A reviewer notes that a new book by a leading interpreter of American evangelical culture may raise important awareness about the wonderment and faith inherent in sports fandom, but leaves out some discussion of how sports support an increasingly masculinist Christianity. 

  • The Historical Roots of "Florida Man"

    by Julio CapĆ³, Jr. and Tyler Gillespie

    The internet meme "Florida Man" signals a caricature of the presumed recklessness and ignorance of the state's population. But these stories have a long history of justifying colonialism and profiteering in the Sunshine State, and stand in the way of progress today. 

  • Arena Rockin' The Vote?

    by George Case

    Dismissed, derided, or even deplored by critics, and out of step with the trends, arena rock acts still pack them in in much of America. Is it the sonic key to understanding Trumpism? 

  • Songs for Sale: Tin Pan Alley (Excerpt)

    by Bob Stanley

    American popular music didn't start with Elvis. It emerged when musical fads onstage converged with a new mass market for in-home record players to make song publishing big business. 

  • Uncancel Wilma Soss

    by Robert E. Wright and Janice Traflet

    Wilma Soss defied norms as a woman who became independently wealthy through her PR agency and her investments, but the circumstances of her marriage and her outspoken advocacy for shareholders against corporate waste led to her erasure.  Her biographers hope to correct that. 

  • Sarah Churchwell on the Lies of "Gone With the Wind"

    by Adam Hochshild

    Does a 500 page book on the historical distortions of the novel and film seem like beating a dead horse? What if the horse is still alive and threatening to trample people?