Is Culture Dead?
Christopher Clausen is Professor of English at Pennsylvania State University and author of Faded Mosaic: The Emergence of Post-Cultural America.
Mid-twentieth century America gave strong evidence of a consensus on culture. It was a time when melting pot values were held up as the natural aspiration of a diverse population. The only alternative to these values was the ancient ethnic cultures that had sheltered early generations of immigrants and linked them to ancestral lands and folkways. A half-century later the situation is dramatically different. Not only has the national cultural consensus declined but traditional ethnic cultures have lost their sway as well. Christopher Clausen argues that America is in a post-cultural condition rife with choices available to individuals who can define themselves in bold new ways. The decline of both a central American culture and ethnic cultures means for Clausen that we are in an age of freedom and nostalgia.