GRASPING THINGS: Folk Material Culture and Mass Society in America by Simon J. Bronner

GRASPING THINGS: Folk Material Culture and Mass Society in America

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A scholarly report on American folk culture and its relationship to the mainstream of society. Bronner (American Studies/Penn State) conducted his field work in Mississippi, Indiana, Pennsylvania, et al. mostly among working-class households. His aim was to discover the ways in which people interact with material objects--especially objects of their own making. In a section entitled ""Entering Things,"" he examines a Harrisburg, PA, neighborhood to uncover the social and aesthetic significance of the family house, and to see what happens when yuppie invaders disrupt a traditional lower-income area. ""Making Things"" delves into the vanishing art of crafting handmade objects; here Bronner focuses on a gravestone carver and a Mennonite painter who affirms the spiritual value of handicraft. ""Consuming Things"" looks at the role that the preparation and eating of turtle soup plays in the social organization of southern Indiana towns. An academic with an eye for human drama, Bronner's firsthand observations include memorable snapshots of rural and small-town men and women struggling to preserve an old-fashioned way of life.Does folk art still serve a crucial social function or has it become a commodity to be bought and sold like any other material object? Whatever the answer--Bronner's sympathies clearly lie with the traditional point of view--this thoughtful book makes it clear that folk culture still flourishes in the byways of America.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1986
Publisher: Univ. Press of Kentucky