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On Creating a Usable CultureMargaret Mead and the Emergence of American Cosmopolitanism$
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Maureen A. Molloy

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780824831165

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824831165.001.0001

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The Problem of American Culture

The Problem of American Culture

Chapter:
(p.19) 2 The Problem of American Culture
Source:
On Creating a Usable Culture
Author(s):

Maureen A. Molloy

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824831165.003.0002

This chapter describes the intellectual debates that provided the basic framework for Mead's writing during the period 1925–1935, and set the character of her lifelong educative mission. These debates were prompted by the desire to create an indigenous arts and letters in the United States that would remedy what were perceived to be the problems that surrounded it: materialism, Puritanism, the Frontier Mentality, alienation, lack of integration, and discontinuity between America's industrial power and the state of its culture. Influenced by the advent of psychoanalysis after Freud's visit to Clark University in 1911, the tensions between therapeutic liberation of the self and the impetus towards socially meaningful cultural creation marked the debates on the problem of American culture in distinctive ways. Mead was to draw on both these tendencies in American cultural criticism to formulate the lessons she drew in her books.

Keywords:   American industrial power, Frontier Mentality, American culture, psychoanalysis, cultural creation, American cultural criticism

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