Rebels: Youth and the Cold War Origins of Identity - New Americanists (Hardback)
  • Rebels: Youth and the Cold War Origins of Identity - New Americanists (Hardback)
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Rebels: Youth and the Cold War Origins of Identity - New Americanists (Hardback)

(author)
£95.00
Hardback 400 Pages / Published: 23/11/2005
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Holden Caulfield, the beat writers, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and James Dean-these and other avatars of youthful rebellion were much more than entertainment. As Leerom Medovoi shows, they were often embraced and hotly debated at the dawn of the Cold War era because they stood for dissent and defiance at a time when the ideological production of the United States as leader of the "free world" required emancipatory figures who could represent America's geopolitical claims. Medovoi argues that the "bad boy" became a guarantor of the country's anti-authoritarian, democratic self-image: a kindred spirit to the freedom-seeking nations of the rapidly decolonizing third world and a counterpoint to the repressive conformity attributed to both the Soviet Union abroad and America's burgeoning suburbs at home.

Alongside the young rebel, the contemporary concept of identity emerged in the 1950s. It was in that decade that "identity" was first used to define collective selves in the politicized manner that is recognizable today: in terms such as "national identity" and "racial identity." Medovoi traces the rapid absorption of identity themes across many facets of postwar American culture, including beat literature, the young adult novel, the Hollywood teen film, early rock 'n' roll, black drama, and "bad girl" narratives. He demonstrates that youth culture especially began to exhibit telltale motifs of teen, racial, sexual, gender, and generational revolt that would burst into political prominence during the ensuing decades, bequeathing to the progressive wing of contemporary American political culture a potent but ambiguous legacy of identity politics.

Publisher: Duke University Press
ISBN: 9780822336808
Number of pages: 400


MEDIA REVIEWS
"Rebels is a great book about bad boys and girls, melodrama and rock 'n' roll, and the emergence of 'identity' as a site of social concern and capitalist fantasy: a focused, engaging revision of white Cold War pop culture aesthetics in the United States."-Lauren Berlant, author of The Queen of America Goes to Washington City: Essays on Sex and Citizenship
"This is a bold and original study of Cold War masculinity, one that will force scholars to reconsider many of their assumptions about the gender and sexual politics of Cold War culture. In showing how the 'bad boy' functioned as a sign of democratic possibility, Leerom Medovoi opens up new ways of thinking about the relation between the 1950s and 1960s."-Robert J. Corber, author of Homosexuality in Cold War America: Resistance and the Crisis of Masculinity

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