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Michael Kammen

Newton C. Farr Professor of American History and Culture
Department of History, Cornell University
mgk5@cornell.edu

Michael Kammen is researching a book about art and cultural contestation in American history. The project will not be a compendious narrative (though based upon several hundred episodes from the early 1840s to the present). It seeks to identify and exemplify more than a dozen types (or categories) of controversy, determine which ones have historical antecedents or precedents, and where they do, what has notably changed during the past generation or so in terms of art, broadly conceived, and responses to those changes. It seems clear that major developments beginning early in the 1960s caused qualitative as well as quantitative changes in the politicization of art. The media have very clearly played an increasing role in accelerating and dramatizing those changes. The book is less about the art itself than about the diverse responses, ranging from lay viewers to critics to policymakers. The diversity of provocations is especially central to the story that is emerging.


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