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American Thought and Culture in the 21st Century

Edited by Martin Halliwell, Catherine Morley

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Will the twenty-first century be the next American Century? Will American power and ideas dominate the globe in the coming years? Or is the prestige of the United States likely to crumble beneath the pressure of new international challenges?

This ground-breaking book explores the changing patterns of American thought and culture at the dawn of the new millennium, when the world's richest nation has never been more powerful or more controversial. It brings together some of the most eminent North American and European thinkers to investigate the crucial issues and challenges facing the United States during the early years of our new century.

From the subterranean political shifts beneath the electoral landscape to the latest biomedical advances, from the literary response to 9/11 to the rise of reality television, this book explores the political, social and cultural contours of contemporary American life - but it also places the United States within a global narrative of commerce, cultural exchange, international diplomacy, ideological conflict and war.

These eighteen new essays address such pressing issues as leadership, foreign policy, propaganda, religion, health, technology, immigration, 9/11 culture and digital media. Searching for the roots of our contemporary concerns, the authors look back to the Clinton years and even earlier periods of twentieth-century American life. But they also look forward to the new horizons of the century to come - to the unanticipated dangers of a global future and to the soaring possibilities of American enterprise and imagination.


Note on Contributors
Introduction: The Next American Century?, Martin Halliwell and Catherine Morley
Part 1: Politics
1. American Politics in the 1990s and 2000s, Dominic Sandbrook (Rothmere American Institute, Oxford)
2. American Leadership into the New Century, John Dumbrell (Durham University)
3. 9/11 and US Foreign Policy, David Ryan (University College Cork)
4. Three Variations on Liberalism, Peter Kuryla (Vanderbilt University)
5. The Rise of Postmodern Conservatism, Kevin Mattson (Ohio University)
6. US Propaganda, Nancy Snow (University of Southern California)
Part 2: Society
7. Contemporary Social Criticism, Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn (Syracuse University)
8. Religion in Post-Secular America, Wilfred M. McClay (University of Tennessee)
9. The US and Globalization, Howard Brick (Washington University, St Louis)
10. The Future of Medicine, Christopher Thomas Scott (Stanford University)
11. Technology in the 21st Century, Carroll Pursell (Macquarie University, Australia)
12. America and the Environment, John Wills (University of Kent, Canterbury)
Part 3: Culture
13. Contemporary American Culture, Martin Halliwell (University of Leicester)
14. Cultural Pluralism and National Identity, Rebecca Tillett (University of East Anglia)
15. Writing in the Wake of 9/11, Catherine Morley (Oxford Brookes University)
16. American Ways of Seeing, Liam Kennedy (University College Dublin)
17. Television and Digital Media, Lynn Spigel and Max Dawson (Northwestern University)
18. Animation and Digital Culture, Paul Wells (Loughborough University)

About the Author

Martin Halliwell is Professor of American Studies and Head of the School of Arts at the University of Leicester. His authored books include Voices of Mental Health: Medicine, Politics, and American Culture, 1970–2000 (Rutgers University Press, 2017), Therapeutic Revolutions: Medicine, Psychiatry, and American Culture, 1945–1970 (Rutgers University Press, 2013), American Culture in the 1950s (Edinburgh University Press, 2007) and Transatlantic Modernism (Edinburgh University Press, 2005).

Catherine Morley is Lecturer in American Literature at the University of Leicester. She is the author of The Quest for Epic in Contemporary American Literature (2009) and co-editor of American Thought and Culture in the 21st Century (2008) and American Modernism: Cultural Transactions (2009).


The eighteen essays in this volume provide a stimulating starting point in any consideration of contemporary American thought and culture with the important intellectual contributions of figures such as Samuel Huntingdon, Frances Fukuyama and Thomas Friedman all being absorbed into the anaylses in interesting ways.
- Tim Foster, University of Nottingham, American Quarterly