By Grace Elizabeth Hale

ISBN-10: 0195393139

ISBN-13: 9780195393132

At mid-century, americans more and more fell in love with characters like Holden Caulfield in Catcher within the Rye and Marlon Brando's Johnny in The Wild One, musicians like Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan, and activists just like the individuals of the coed Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. those feelings enabled a few middle-class whites to chop freed from their very own histories and establish with those that, whereas missing monetary, political, or social privilege, appeared to own as a substitute very important cultural assets and a intensity of feeling no longer present in "grey flannel" the USA.

In this wide-ranging and vividly written cultural background, Grace Elizabeth Hale sheds gentle on why such a lot of white middle-class american citizens selected to re-imagine themselves as outsiders within the moment 1/2 the 20th century and explains how this exceptional shift replaced American tradition and society. Love for outsiders introduced the politics of either the hot Left and the hot correct. From the mid-sixties throughout the eighties, it flourished within the hippie counterculture, the back-to-the-land circulate, the Jesus humans move, and between fundamentalist and Pentecostal Christians operating to place their conventional isolation and separatism as strengths. It replaced the very which means of "authenticity" and "community."

Ultimately, the romance of the outsider supplied an inventive solution to an intractable mid-century cultural and political conflict-the fight among the will for self-determination and autonomy and the need for a morally significant and real lifestyles.

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Additional info for A Nation of Outsiders: How the White Middle Class Fell in Love with Rebellion in Postwar America

Example text

The concept of mass culture enabled intellectuals to think about the relationship of the individual and the larger society without explicitly referencing political ideology at all. 45 As intellectuals increasingly defined the culture at the center—mass culture—as the problem, it became a small step to see cultures understood as existing at the margins—the creative expression of outsiders—as part of the solution. In this kind of thinking, opposition, like conformity, took place in cultural terms, on cultural grounds.

Radio and the movies, in particular, needed new markets, as television became the family entertainment of choice in the growing suburbs. ”7 What many of these teenagers wanted was separation, something, anything to distinguish and distance them from their parents and other adults. With help from the music, movie, and radio industries, they created a new teen culture grounded in a mood of opposition to their parents and their plenty. In contrast to a more respectable emotional repression, white teenagers increasingly valued the expression of passion and desire.

25 There are many of these movie-like scenes in Catcher, places where Holden confesses he is playacting his life and more subtle passages when he leaves his borrowed stories—the stock plots of a hundred pulp novels, cheap plays, and popular movies—for his readers to find. “If there’s one thing I hate, it’s the movies,” he tells us, even as he imitates them. Holden craves the audience—“I’m an exhibitionist”—that this borrowed drama at least potentially provides, people who might care about him. 26 Holden’s one actual trip to the movies makes the novel’s most direct historical reference: to war, the history, of course, that haunts adults in the late forties and early fifties.

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