A Nation of Outsiders: How the White Middle Class Fell in Love with Rebellion in Postwar America
By: Grace Elizabeth Hale (author)Paperback
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At mid-century, Americans increasingly fell in love with characters like Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye and Marlon Brando's Johnny in The Wild One, musicians like Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan, and activists like the members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. These emotions enabled some middle-class whites to cut free of their own histories and identify with those who, while lacking economic, political, or social privilege, seemed to possess instead vital cultural resources and a depth of feeling not found in "grey flannel" America. In this wide-ranging and vividly written cultural history, Grace Elizabeth Hale sheds light on why so many white middle-class Americans chose to re-imagine themselves as outsiders in the second half of the twentieth century and explains how this unprecedented shift changed American culture and society. Love for outsiders launched the politics of both the New Left and the New Right.
From the mid-sixties through the eighties, it flourished in the hippie counterculture, the back-to-the-land movement, the Jesus People movement, and among fundamentalist and Pentecostal Christians working to position their traditional isolation and separatism as strengths. It changed the very meaning of "authenticity" and "community." Ultimately, the romance of the outsider provided a creative resolution to an intractable mid-century cultural and political conflict-the struggle between the desire for self-determination and autonomy and the desire for a morally meaningful and authentic life.
Grace Elizabeth Hale is Professor of History and American Studies at the University of Virginia. She is the author of Making Whiteness: The Culture of Segregation in the South, 1890-1940.
Introduction: Outsiders and Rebels ; PART I: LEARNING TO LOVE OUTSIDERS ; 1. Lost Children of Plenty: Growing Up as Rebellion ; 2. Rebel Music: Minstrelsy, Rock and Roll, and Beat Writing ; 3. Black as Folk: The Folk Music Revival, the Civil Rights Movement, and Bob Dylan ; 4. Rebels on the Right: Conservatives as Outsiders in Liberal America ; Part II: Romance in Action ; 5. The New White Negroes in Action: Students for a Democratic Society, the Economic Research and Action Project, and Freedom Summer ; 6. Too Much Love: Black Power and the Search for Other Outsiders ; 7. The Making of Christian Countercultures: God's Outsiders from the Jesus People to Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority ; 8. Rescue: Christian Outsiders in Action in the Pro-Life Movement ; Conclusion: The Cost of Rebellion ; Index
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