Dr. Mike O'Malley's book, The Cultural Turn in U.S. History (co-edited with James Cook and Lawrence Glickman), has just been published by the University of Chicago Press. A definitive account of one of the most dominant trends in recent historical writing, the volume takes stock of the field at the same time as it showcases exemplars of its practice. The first of this volume's three distinct sections offers a comprehensive genealogy of American cultural history, tracing its multifaceted origins, defining debates, and intersections with adjacent fields. The second section comprises previously unpublished essays by a distinguished roster of contributors who illuminate the discipline's rich potential by plumbing topics that range from nineteenth-century anxieties about greenback dollars to confidence games in 1920s Harlem, from Shirley Temple s career to the story of a Chicano community in San Diego that created a public park under a local freeway. Featuring an equally wide-ranging selection of pieces that meditate on the future of the field, the final section explores such subjects as the different strains of cultural history, its relationships with arenas from mass entertainment to public policy, and the ways it has been shaped by catastrophe. Taken together, these essays represent a watershed moment in the life of a discipline, harnessing its vitality to offer a glimpse of the shape it will take in years to come.
April 24, 2009