History and Art History Faculty Members Have Books in Progress

Posted: February 17, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Editor’s Note: The George Mason faculty is extremely productive when it comes to book publishing, so theGazette staff checked in with a number of faculty members who have active book-length manuscripts, some scheduled for publication this year. Following is an outline of a few of them from the History and Art History Department.

Some Wore Bobby Sox: The Emergence of Teenage Girls’ Culture, 1920-1945 by Kelly Schrum, assistant professor, is set for publication in June by Palgrave MacMillan. Drawing upon the voices of teenage girls, this book explores the relationship between an emerging teenage girls’ culture and the establishment of a teenage market in the decades before World War II. From fashion and beauty to music and movies, high school girls were active in the development of teenage girls’ culture and consumer culture, but they were also influenced by commercial, media, and academic attention to their lives. Examining national trends and individual experiences, this book complicates the relationship between consumer culture and the ability of girls to selectively accept, reject, and appropriate a wide array of consumer goods.

Prosthetic Memory: The Transformation of American Remembrance in the Age of Mass Culture by Alison Landsberg, assistant professor, is due out this year from Columbia University Press. This book examines the conditions and contours of memory in modern American culture. It argues that mass cultural technologies, such as the cinema and the experiential museum, have made it increasingly possible for Americans to take on memories of events through which they did not live–memories that have important ramifications for their identities, politics, and ethics.

Burning and Building: Schooling and State Formation in Japan, 1750-1890 is forthcoming in May from Harvard University Press. Written by Brian Platt, assistant professor, the book focuses on the Shinano region of Japan in a significant period of Japanese history: that moment in the mid-19th century when the collapse of the Tokugawa dynasty was accompanied by attempts to Westernize Japanese politics and culture. When U.S. warships occupied several Japanese ports in the 1860s, Japanese politicians at all levels found themselves caught in a heated debate about whether Japan was better off following Western paths to modernization or seeking its own path. The Meiji government that took over after the transition opted for a Western path, and the tensions between the supporters and opponents of this plan established and shaped both modernization and state formation in Japan. Platt’s book focuses on schools as a lens through which to view these changes because education was the primary battlefield in this cultural struggle. The government tried to de-emphasize all private schools and attempted to establish a system of universal public education as in the West. The more than 6,000 private schools in the Nagano prefecture of the Shinano region resisted these reforms. Platt’s book shows how these tensions and political battles played out in the process of an evolution to a more modern Japanese state.

Jack R. Censer, professor, is negotiating a contract for publication in 2005 of The Sniper, Public Opinion, and the Press. The book examines the state of fear and paranoia created by the print press and electronic media in the fall of 2002 as the Washington “sniper” (actually two, as we now know) terrorized the Washington, D.C., area for three weeks. Censer shows how the public was persuaded by the press into fearing for their lives every time they went out to the grocery store or bought gas for their cars. He argues that a combination of continued bungling by law enforcement and sensationalism by the press created a culture of fear, when the odds of being struck by lightning or being killed on the Capital Beltway were significantly greater than the odds of being shot by “the sniper.” Based on scores of interviews with law enforcement officials (both federal and local) as well as countless members of the press, Censer writes a very different history of the sniper attacks than the two books published to date.

Write to at