cultural history

Blaxploitation Movies and Music Are the Story of the 1970s

Blaxploitation Movies and Music Are the Story of the 1970s

Blaxploitation signaled the moment ghetto culture and the Black vernacular hit the American mainstream, paving the way for rap, hip-hop, disco, and modern sports.

The Fine Art of Bootlegging

The Fine Art of Bootlegging

Eleanor Patterson’s Bootlegging the Airwaves is a lively study of home-taping in the pre-digital era and the communities this “unpaid labor” created.

For the Love of the Crappy Cassette Tape

For the Love of the Crappy Cassette Tape

The peculiar technology of the lo-fi, crappy cassette tape exemplifies the inherent contradictions of popular music better than any other medium.

‘Ballyhoo!’ Professional Wrestling’s Wild West-Like Origins

‘Ballyhoo!’ Professional Wrestling’s Wild West-Like Origins

Professional wrestling’s Wild West-like origins kick up a lot of dust in Jon Langmead’s history of the sport’s rough housers and con artists, Ballyhoo!

The Bunkered Decades: Digging into the Atom Bomb’s Effect on Cold War America

The Bunkered Decades: Digging into the Atom Bomb’s Effect on Cold War America

When Americans realized the atom bomb their country created could be turned on them, arts and society alike bunkered down into nightmares of nuclear destruction. 

Take a Whiff of ‘Perfume’ and Enter the World of Queer Culture

Take a Whiff of ‘Perfume’ and Enter the World of Queer Culture

How did Calvin Klein’s gender-neutral CK One, with its scent like “a vodka tonic with lemon twist”, help inspire gender revolution?Perfume follows the fragrant path into queer culture.

The British ‘Idea of Europe’ Is Still a Mess

The British ‘Idea of Europe’ Is Still a Mess

Shane Weller’s The Idea of Europe, hampered by an unconscious form of Euroscepticism, suggests that British critics are still not ready to listen to their neighbors.

What Made Mahjong Click with Suburban Americans?

What Made Mahjong Click with Suburban Americans?

In Annelise Heinz’s cultural history, ‘Mahjong’, the role of games tells more significant stories than simply recording how we use our leisure time.

Ronald Brownstein Celebrates and Elegizes LA’s ’70s-Era Cultural Dominance

Ronald Brownstein Celebrates and Elegizes LA’s ’70s-Era Cultural Dominance

Ronald Brownstein’s ode to ’70s Los Angeles is, like so many California stories, less about a sustained moment than a bright and briefly thrilling mirage.

‘Anti-vaxxers: How to Challenge a Misinformed Movement’ (excerpt)

‘Anti-vaxxers: How to Challenge a Misinformed Movement’ (excerpt)

Jonathan M. Berman's Anti-vaxxers, argues that anti-vaccination activism is tied closely to how people see themselves as parents and community members. Effective pro-vaccination efforts should emphasize these cultural aspects.

The American Robot: A Cultural History [By the Book]

The American Robot: A Cultural History [By the Book]

In The American Robot, Dustin A. Abnet explores how robots have not only conceptually connected but literally embodied some of the most critical questions in modern culture, as seen in this excerpt from chapter 5 "Building the Slaves of Tomorrow", courtesy of University of Chicago Press.

In Appreciation of Camille Billops and Her Films

In Appreciation of Camille Billops and Her Films

Camille Billops moved beyond predictable and well-tread ground to open up space for new narratives in her films—about Black families, Black women, and Black middle-class life—that pulled on her distinctive and unapologetic worldview.