American Culture

Report
American Culture
• The development of the culture of the United States of
America — music, cinema, dance, architecture, literature,
poetry, cuisine and the visual arts — has been marked by a
tension between two strong sources of inspiration:
European sophistication and domestic originality.
• At the beginning of her third century, nearly every major
American city offers classical and popular music; historical,
scientific and art research centers and museums; dance
performances, musicals and plays; outdoor art projects and
internationally significant architecture.
• This development is a result of both contributions by
private philanthropists and government funding.
1. Literature
• In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries,
American art and literature took most of its cues from
Europe with writers such as Nathaniel Hawthorne,
Edgar Allan Poe.
• By the middle of the nineteenth century, Henry David
Thoreau established a distinctive American literary
voice.
• In the century's second half Mark Twain and poet Walt
Whitman were major figures; Emily Dickinson, virtually
unknown during her lifetime, would be recognized as
America's other essential poet.
• Eleven U.S. citizens have won the Nobel Prize
in Literature, most recently Toni Morrison in
1993. Ernest Hemingway is the 1954 Nobel
laureate.
• Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, Twain's The
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and F. Scott
Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby—may be
dubbed the "Great American Novel.”
1.1 Poetry
• Arose first during its beginnings
as the Constitutionally-unified
thirteen colonies
• Most relied on contemporary
British models of poetic form,
diction, and theme.
• However, in the 19th century, a
distinctive American idiom began
to emerge.
• By the later part of that century,
when Walt Whitman was winning
an enthusiastic audience abroad,
poets from the United States had
begun to take their place at the
forefront of the English-language
avant-garde.
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This position was sustained into the 20th
century to the extent that Ezra Pound and T.
S. Eliot were perhaps the most influential
English-language poets in the period during
World War I.
By the 1960s, the young poets of the British
Poetry Revival looked to their American
contemporaries and predecessors as
models for the kind of poetry they wanted
to write.
Toward the end of the millennium,
consideration of American poetry had
diversified.
Poetry, and creative writing in general, also
tended to become more professionalized
with the growth of creative writing
programs in the English studies
departments of campuses across the
country.
1.2 Comic Books
• Since the invention of the comic book format in the 1930s,
the United States has been the leading producer with only
the British comic books (during the inter-war period and up
until the 1970s) and the Japanese manga as close
competitors in terms of quantity.
• Comic book sales began to decline after World War II.
• In the 1960s, comic books' audience expanded to include
college students. The 1960s also saw the advent of the
underground comics.
• Later, the recognition of the comic medium among
academics, literary critics and art museums helped solidify
comics as a serious artform with established traditions,
stylistic conventions, and artistic evolution.
2. Television
• There are three basic types of television in the
United States: broadcast, or "over-the-air"
television, which is freely available to anyone
with a TV in the broadcast area, cable
television, and satellite television, both of
which require a subscription to receive.
2.1 Broadcast Television
• A decentralized, market-oriented television
system.
• No national broadcast programming services.
• Local media markets with their own television
stations.
• Stations may sign affiliation agreements with
one of the national networks.
• The three major commercial
television networks in the
U.S. are NBC and CBS and
ABC.
• In big cities, affiliates of
these networks almost
always broadcast in the VHF
band, which, in the days
before cable became
widespread, was premium
real estate.
• Major-network affiliates run very similar
schedules.
• Saturday mornings usually feature network
programming aimed at children (including
animated cartoons), while Sunday mornings
include public-affairs programs that help fulfill
stations' legal obligations to provide publicservice programming.
• Sports and infomercials can be found on weekend
afternoons, followed again by the same type of
prime-time shows aired during the week.
2.2 Other Over-the-Air Commercial
Television
• From 1955 until 1986, all English-language
stations not affiliated with the big three
networks were independent. Many independent
stations still exist in the U.S..
• In 1986, however, the Fox Broadcasting Company
launched a challenge to the big three networks
and has established itself as a major player in
broadcast television.
2.3 Cable and Satellite Television
• Unlike broadcast networks, most cable networks air the
same programming nationwide.
• Top cable networks include USA Network, ESPN and Versus
(sports), MTV (music), Fox News (news), Sci Fi (science
fiction), Disney Channel (family), Nick and Cartoon Network
(Children's), Discovery Channel and Animal Planet
(documentaries), TBS (comedy), TNT (drama) and Lifetime
(women's).
• Cable-TV subscribers receive these channels through local
cable system operators. By law, cable systems must include
local over-the-air stations in their offerings to customers.
• Today Direct broadcast satellite
television services offers programming
similar to cable TV.
• Dish Network and News Corporation's
DirecTV are the major DBS providers in
the country.
• In 2008, Sky Angel became the first in the U.S.
to launch a nationwide multi-channel platform
of television programming.
• Currently, more than 70 channels of Christcentered and family-friendly television and
radio programming are currently available
across the contiguous U.S..
• Subscribers do not need an outside dish or
antenna to receive Sky Angel programming.
3. Dance
• Great variety in dance in the United States.
• Home of the Lindy Hop, Rock and Roll, and
modern square dance.
• A variety of social dance and concert or
performance dance forms with a range of
traditions of Native American dances.
3.1 African American Dance
• Vernacular dances which have
developed within African
American communities in
everyday spaces.
• Usually centered on social
dance practice.
• characterized by ongoing
change and development and
their 'stealing' or 'borrowing'
from other dance traditions.
• An important example: Alvin
Ailey and the Alvin Ailey
American Dance Theater
3.2 Swing Dance
• A group of dances
that developed
concurrently with the
style of jazz music in
the 1920s, 30s and
40s.
• The most well known
is lindy hop.
• Now found globally
3.3 Modern Dance
• Developed in the early 20th century.
• The early innovators: Isadora Duncan,
the dance company of Ruth St. Denis
and her husband-partner, Ted Shawn,
her pupils Doris Humphrey, Martha
Graham.
• More of a way to express your feelings
and emotions in a deep dance.
• Later choreographers: Merce
Cunningham, Alvin Ailey.
• Recently, Mark Morris and Liz Lerman
have shown that graceful, exciting
movement is not restricted by age or
body type.
4. Visual Arts
• Visual arts of the United States refers to the
history of painting and visual art in the United
States.
4.1 Eighteenth Century
• Most of early American
consists of history painting and
portraits.
• Painters such as Gilbert Stuart
made portraits of the newly
elected government officials,
while John Singleton Copley
was painting emblematic
portraits for the increasingly
prosperous merchant class,
and painters such as John
Trumbull were making large
battle scenes of the
Revolutionary War.
4.2 Nineteenth Century
• America's first well-known
school of painting—the
Hudson River School—
appeared in 1820.
• The Hudson River painters'
directness and simplicity of
vision influenced such later
artists as Winslow Homer
(1836-1910), who depicted
rural America—the sea, the
mountains, and the people
who lived near them.
• Paintings of the Great West,
particularly the act of
conveying the sheer size of
the land and the cultures of
the native people living on
it, were starting to emerge
as well.
• Many painters who are
considered American spent
some time in Europe and
met other European artists
in Paris and London, such as
Mary Cassatt and Whistler.
4.3 Twentieth Century
• Controversy soon became a way of life for
American artists.
• After World War I many American artists also
rejected the modern trends.
4.4.1 The American Southwest
• New artists’ colonies started
growing up around Santa Fe
and Taos, the artists
primary subject matter
being the native people and
landscapes of the
Southwest.
• Walter Ufer, Bert Greer
Phillips, E. Irving Couse,
William Henry Jackson, and
Georgia O'Keeffe are some
of the more prolific artists
of the southwest.
4.4.2 Harlem Renaissance
• In the 1920s and 30s a new generation of
educated and politically astute African-American
men and women emerged who sponsored
literary societies and art and industrial exhibitions
to combat racist stereotypes.
• Though the movement included artists from
across America, it was centered in Harlem, and
work from Harlem graphic artist Aaron Douglas
and photographer James VanDerZee became
emblematic of the movement.
4.4.3 New Deal Art
• The first of these projects, the
Public Works of Art Project
(PWAP), was created after
successful lobbying by the
unemployed artists of the Artists'
Union.
• The PWAP was followed by the
Federal Art Project of the Works
Progress Administration
(FAP/WPA) in 1935.
• Thomas Hart Benton, John
Steuart Curry, Grant Wood, Ben
Shahn, Joseph Stella, Reginald
Marsh, Isaac Soyer, Raphael
Soyer, and Jack Levine were some
of the best known artists.
4.4.4 Abstract Expressionism
• In the years after World War II,
a group of New York artists
formed the first American
movement to exert major
influence internationally:
abstract expressionism.
• It has always been criticized as
too large and paradoxical, yet
the common definition implies
the use of abstract art to
express feelings, emotions,
what is within the artist, and
not what stands without.
4.4.5 After Abstract Expressionism
• During the 1950s abstract painting in America
evolved into movements such as Neo-Dada, Post
painterly abstraction, Op Art, hard-edge painting,
Minimal art, Shaped canvas painting, Lyrical
Abstraction, and the continuation of Abstract
expressionism.
• As a response to the tendency toward abstraction
imagery emerged through various new
movements like Pop Art, the Bay Area Figurative
Movement and later in the 1970s Neoexpressionism.
4.4.6 Other Modern American Movements
• Members of the next artistic
generation favored a
different form of abstraction:
works of mixed media.
• Realism has also been
popular in the United States,
despite modernist
tendencies, such as the city
scenes by Edward Hopper
and the illustrations of
Norman Rockwell.
5. Theater
• Theater of the United States is based in the
Western tradition, mostly borrowed from the
performance styles prevalent in Europe.
• Regional or resident theatres in the United
States are professional theatre companies
outside of New York City that produce their
own seasons.
5.1 Early History
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The birth of professional theater in
America may have begun with the
Lewis Hallam troupe that arrived in
Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1752. The
Hallams were the first to organize a
complete company of actors in
Europe and bring them to the
colonies.
In the 18th century, laws forbidding
the performance of plays were
passed
In 1794, president of Yale College,
Timothy Dwight IV, in his “Essay on
the Stage”, declared that “to indulge
a taste for playgoing means nothing
more or less than the loss of that
most valuable treasure: the immortal
soul.”
5.2 The 19th Century
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“The Walnut” is the oldest theater in
America. The Walnut's first theatrical
production, The Rivals, was staged in
1812.
William Shakespeare's works were
commonly performed.
American plays of the period were
mostly melodramas.
A popular form of theater during this
time was the minstrel show, which
featured white actors dressed in
“blackface .
Throughout the 19th century, theater
culture was associated with
hedonism and even violence, and
actors (especially women), were
looked upon as little better than
prostitutes.
• Burlesque—a form of farce
in which females in male
roles mocked the politics
and culture of the day—
became a popular form of
entertainment by the
middle of the 19th century.
• Criticized for its sexuality
and outspokenness, this
form of entertainment was
hounded off the “legitimate
stage” and found itself
relegated to saloons and
barrooms.
5.3 The 20th Century
• Vaudeville was common in the late 19th and early
20th century, and is notable for heavily
influencing early film, radio, and television
productions in the country.
• By the beginning of the 20th century, legitimate
(non-vaudville) theater had become decidedly
more sophisticated in the United States.
• More complex and sophisticated dramas
bloomed in this time period, and acting styles
became more subdued.
• While revues consisting of mostly
unconnected songs, sketches, comedy
routines, and scantily-clad dancing girls
dominated for the first 20 years of the 20th
century, musical theater would eventually
develop beyond this.
• The massive social change that went on during
the Great Depression also had an effect on
theater in the United States.
• The years between the World Wars were years
of extremes. Eugene O'Neill's plays were the
high point for serious dramatic plays leading
up to the outbreak of war in Europe.
• After World War II, American theater came into
its own. Several American playwrights, such as
Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams, became
world-renowned.
• In the Sixties, experimentation in the Arts spread
into theater as well, with plays such as Hair
including nudity and drug culture references.
• In the late 1990s and 2000s, American theatre
began to borrow from cinematic and operatic
roots.
5.4 American Theater Today
• Broadway productions still entertain millions
of theatergoers as productions have become
more elaborate and expensive.
• Notable contemporary American playwrights
include Edward Albee, August Wilson, Tony
Kushner, David Henry Hwang, John Guare, and
Wendy Wasserstein.
6. Cuisine
• The cuisine of the United States is a style of
food preparation derived from the United
States.
• The cuisine has a history dating back before
the colonial period.
• With European colonization, the style of
cookery changed vastly.
• The style of cookery continued to expand into
the 19th and 20th centuries
6.1 Pre-1492
• Cookery style varied greatly from group to
group.
• Nutrition was an issue for most hunting and
gathering societies.
6.1.1 Plant Foods
• The Native Americans had at least 2,000 separate plant foods which
contributed to their cooking.
• Indigenous root vegetables included camas bulb, arrowhead, blue lapine,
bitterroot, biscuit root, breadroot, prairie turnip, sedge tubers, and
whitestar potatoes (Ipomoea lacunosa) along with the sweet potato and
white potato.
• Greens included salmonberry shoots and stalks, coltsfoot, fiddlehead fern,
milkweed, wild celery, wood sorrel, purslane, and wild nasturtium.
• Other vegetables included century plant crowns and flower shoots, yucca
blossoms, tule rootstocks, amole stalks, bear grass stalks, cattail
rootstocks, narrowleaf yucca stalks, and sotol crowns.
• Fruits included strawberries , huckleberries, blueberries, cherries,
currants, gooseberries, plums, crab apples, raspberries, sumac berries,
juniper berries, hackberries, elderberries, hawthorne fruit, pitaya, white
evening primrose fruit, and yucca fruit.
• Nuts proliferated in the diet as well
• Legumes included peanuts, screwbeans, honey locust beans, and
mesquite beans
6.1.2 Land Animal Foods
• The largest amount of animal protein came from game meats.
• Large game included bison, deer, elk, moose, bighorn sheep, and
bear, mountain lion, along with goat and pronghorn being found in
the Rocky Mountains.
• The small game cooked included rabbit, raccoon, opossum, squirrel,
wood rat, chipmunk, ground hog, peccary, prairie dog, skunk,
badger, beaver, and porcupine.
• Game birds included turkey, partridge, quail, pigeon, plover, lark
and osprey. Water fowl was quite abundant and varied, particularly
on the coasts such as ducks, geese, swan, crane and sea crane.
• Other amphibious proteins included alligators and frogs, which the
legs were enjoyed from, especially bullfrogs. Snail meat was also
enjoyed, along with various turtles such as the painted turtle, wood
turtle, and snapping turtle along with their eggs.
6.1.3 Seafood
• Saltwater fish eaten by the Native Americans
were cod, lemon sole, flounder, herring, halibut,
sturgeon, smelt, drum on the East Coast, and
olachen on the West Coast.
• Crustacean included shrimp, lobster, crayfish, and
giant crabs in the Northwest and blue crabs in the
East. Other shellfish include abalone and geoduck
on the California coast, while on the East Coast
the surf clam, quahog, and the soft-shell clam.
Oysters were eaten on both shores, as were
mussels and periwinkles.
6.2.3 Vegetables
• A number of vegetables grew in the northern
colonies, which included turnips, onions,
cabbage, carrots, and parsnips, along with a
number of beans, pulses and legumes.
Pumpkins and gourds were other vegetables
that grew well in the northern colonies; often
used for fodder for animals in addition to
human consumption.
6.2.4 Alcoholic Drinks
• Rum was the distilled spirit of choice as the main
ingredient, molasses, was readily available from
trade with the West Indies.
• Further into the interior, one would often find
colonists consuming whiskey, as they did not have
similar access to the sugar cane. They did have
ready access to corn and rye, which they used to
produce their whiskey.
• Hops only grew wild in the New World, and as
such, importation from England and elsewhere
became essential to beer production.

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