Cover image for Faded mosaic : the emergence of post-cultural America
Faded mosaic : the emergence of post-cultural America
Clausen, Christopher, 1942-
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Publication Information:
Chicago : Ivan R. Dee, 2000.
Physical Description:
viii, 209 pages ; 22 cm
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E169.12 .C543 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Contrary to today's widespread emphasis on cultural diversity, the United States has become not a multicultural society but the world's first post-cultural society. Cultures, Christopher Clausen argues, have lost power over both public and private behavior. This largely unrecognized transformation has enormous importance for every area of American life, from marriage to politics. One of its most prevalent social expressions is an aimless, conformist individualism--because there is no longer any source of authority or value outside the self. The multiculturalism of leftist politics and the family values of the right are both futile expressions of nostalgia for a world (differently interpreted, of course) that is gone forever. In Faded Mosaic, Mr. Clausen brings his analysis down to earth with telling illustrations from contemporary life. He demonstrates how the moral demands and collective identities of America's native and immigrant cultures have vanished. In striking contrast to societies of the past, he declares, the United States today has neither one big culture nor many smaller ones, only a dizzying mixture of freedom and nostalgia. Original and penetrating, a serious critique.... It is the great virtue of Faded Mosaic that Mr. Clausen describes our present condition without hysterics or posturing--but with the caution, objectivity and concern that the subject deserves. --Eric Cohen, Wall Street Journal

Author Notes

Christopher Clausen teaches at the Pennsylvania State University.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Both liberals who think the U.S. is becoming multicultural and conservatives who think it is becoming monocultural are wrong, Clausen says. The universalist individualism announced in the Declaration of Independence and intellectually powered by the philosopher-poets Emerson and Whitman has eventuated in a U.S. that is "postcultural." The foundations of culture--family, ethnicity, religion--have lost determinative power over the individual, and restoring their potency is a nostalgic daydream. All values are now personal, which means that ethnic standards are outdated museum exhibits and that intermarriage will ensure that the consciously nonwhite U.S. majority predicted by President Clinton for 2050 never coalesces. What Americans are really headed for is mass individualism in which the embattled loner becomes normative. Given the worldwide popularity of U.S. stuff, from jeans to MTV, Clausen still remains uncertain whether the postcultural U.S. prefigures a postcultural world. He points to the persistence of languages, local custom, and nationalism outside the U.S. as factors mitigating U.S. postcultural globalism. Fascinating and novel analysis from a thoughtful, nonpessimistic pundit. --Ray Olson

Library Journal Review

Clausen (English, Pennsylvania State Univ.) examines American culture at the beginning of the new millennium. Rather than holding the "melting pot" view of earlier America or the newer "cultural mosaic" model promulgated by proponents of multiculturalism, Clausen states that "the contemporary United States has neither one big culture nor a number of smaller ones, only a strange mixture of freedom and nostalgia." He further asserts that "contemporary America is the first post-cultural society, a society existing after the death of cultures." Arguing that races in America have far more in common than what divides them and that age and income are, for the most part, more important than ethnicity or national origin, Clausen advances his points with case studies, some statistical data, and references to several philosophical views. While this book is a bit beyond the audience of most public libraries, its readability, lucid arguments, and fairly unique point of view make it an excellent addition to the collection of any academic library.--Mark Bay, Univ. of Houston Libs. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Introduction: Freedom and Nostalgiap. 3
1. The Cult of "Culture"p. 18
2. Multiculturalism as Museump. 49
3. Intermarriage and the 2050 Fallacyp. 86
4. Mass Individualism and the End of Culturep. 119
5. Toward a Post-Cultural World?p. 156
Notesp. 189
Indexp. 197