In this issue of Cultural Objects, the American Studies students at the University of Virginia focus on the manufacture, distribution, and consumption of American popular culture.
The historical periods of their sites cover quite a range, from antebellum elite culture in a small southern town to Coney Island at the turn-of-the-century, from the bicycle craze of the 1890s and the impact of the automobile on ideas of leisure in the 20s and 30s, and from the sensational murder of famous Hollywood director to movie made fables of childhood and adolescence of the 70s and 80s.
Running throughout the sites are a set of interlinked concerns about the effects of new media on culture, of print and radio and film and television, about the problematic nature of the ways in which a heterogeneous audience actually absorbed or rewrote the meanings of culture offered it by the mass media, and about the varieties of important information about us as a people that lies, barely hidden, in the everyday cultural objects we create and consume.
The courseware which provided the space within which the students worked over this past year to produce this may be of interest to some, particularly in what it suggests about the amount of hard work that went into this issue.
For my part, however, what I find most interesting is, once again, the very high quality of the minds and imaginations of our undergraduates.
Cultural Objects VI:
AMERICAN POPULAR CULTURE
Alan B. Howard