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Author and educator Ray Browne combined interests in folklore, literature, and American Studies into a groundbreaking approach to the study of the humanities and social sciences, a field which eventually came to be known as Popular Culture Studies. In addition to co-founding both the Journal of Popular Culture and the Journal of American Culture, Browne wrote and published more than 80 articles and book chapters and eight books, and edited almost 50 other book-length volumes. This collection features his key culture studies writings from a decades-long academic career. It includes some of Browne's most influential and notable scholarship, along with previously unpublished work, corrected pieces, and new articles edited from multiple sources.
Popular entertainments are windows into the attitudes and values of the people who participate in them. They both reflect and affect society as they celebrate an aspect of life. The fifteen essays in this collection demonstrate various aspects of celebrations of cultures and the importance they have in those cultures. Topics include: feminine processions and masculine parades; political activism and quietism in Shi'a rituals; civic socializing in Puritan New England; the circus and American culture; the Wild West shows; beauty pageants; theme parks; Bourbon Street, New Orleans; and Stonehenge.
The humanities are the strongest dynamic that runs from the past into the future. Throughout history, except for the past one hundred fifty years, the strongest element in the humanities has been the culture of the folk. Now it is the everyday culture of a democratic society-popular culture, a key to people's understanding themselves and their society. These sixteen essays by leading popular culture scholars demonstrate how elements in our everyday life flourished in the past, came to flower today, and will continue to shape us in the future.