Demonstrating the intimate connections among our public, political, and personal lives, these essays by Robert Cantwell explore the vernacular culture of everyday life. A keen and innovative observer of American culture, Cantwell casts a broad and penetrating intelligence over the cultural functioning of popular texts, artifacts, and performers, examining how cultural practices become performances and how performances become artifacts endowed with new meaning through the transformative acts of imagination. Cantwell's points of departure range from the visual and the literary--a photograph of Woody Guthrie, or a poem by John Keats--to major cultural exhibitions such as the World's Columbian Exposition. In all these domains, he unravels the implications for community and cultural life of a continual migration, transformation, and reformulation of cultural content.
Robert Cantwell is a professor of American studies at the University of North Carolina and the author of Ethnomimesis: Folklife and the Representation of Culture, When We Were Good: The Folk Revival, and Bluegrass Breakdown: The Making of the Old Southern Sound, which won an ASCAP Deems Taylor Award.