The Origins of Cool in Postwar America
University of Chicago Press 2017
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in FilmNew Books in HistoryNew Books in MusicNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Popular CultureNew Books Network October 31, 2017 Rebekah J. Buchanan
In his new book, The Origins of Cool in Postwar America (University of Chicago Press, 2017), Cultural Studies scholar Joel Dinerstein explores the cultural history of cool and the codes that defined the style and attitude of this relatively new concept. Using cultural icons such as Lester Young, Humphrey Bogart, Albert Camus, Billie Holiday, Jack Kerouac, Marlon Brando, Miles Davis, and Lorraine Hansberry to name a few, Dinerstein weaves an image of cool in the 1940s and 1950s as it intersects jazz, film noir, literature, and existentialism. Well researched and compellingly written, The Origins of Cool in Postwar America examines the ways in which popular culture works to define cool throughout the Cold War. Dinerstein’s work interrogates cool, presenting the way in which individuals show how cool is a way of rebellion and resistance against racism or other cultural and social norms. Cool brings a hope to individuals during cultural shifts that Dinerstein presents in this thorough and thoughtful exploration into cool and the icons who exuded the term.
Rebekah Buchanan is an Associate Professor of English at Western Illinois University. Her work examines the role of narrative in people’s lives. She researches zines, zine writers and the influence of music subcultures and fandom on writers and narratives. You can find more about her on her website, follow her on Twitter @rj_buchanan or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.