Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pg. 99: Richard Pells's "Modernist America"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test: Modernist America: Art, Music, Movies, and the Globalization of American Culture by Richard Pells.

About the book, from the publisher:
America's global cultural impact is largely seen as one-sided, with critics claiming that it has undermined other countries' languages and traditions. But contrary to popular belief, the cultural relationship between the United States and the world has been reciprocal, says Richard Pells. The United States not only plays a large role in shaping international entertainment and tastes, it is also a consumer of foreign intellectual and artistic influences.

Pells reveals how the American artists, novelists, composers, jazz musicians, and filmmakers who were part of the Modernist movement were greatly influenced by outside ideas and techniques. People across the globe found familiarities in American entertainment, resulting in a universal culture that has dominated the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and fulfilled the aim of the Modernist movement—to make the modern world seem more intelligible.

Modernist America brilliantly explains why George Gershwin's music, Cole Porter's lyrics, Jackson Pollock's paintings, Bob Fosse's choreography, Marlon Brando's acting, and Orson Welles's storytelling were so influential, and why these and other artists and entertainers simultaneously represent both an American and a modern global culture.
Learn more about Modernist America at the Yale University Press website.

Richard Pells is Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Texas, Austin. He is the author of Not Like Us: How Europeans Have Loved, Hated, and Transformed American Culture Since 1945, The Liberal Mind in a Conservative Age: American Intellectuals in the 1940s and 1950s, and Radical Visions and American Dreams: Culture and Social Thought in the Depression Years. He has been a visiting professor in many European countries, as well as in Brazil, Australia, and Indonesia.

The Page 99 Test: Modernist America.

--Marshal Zeringue