Come take a closer look at ordinary footwear, like sneakers, or children's toys and Saturday cartoon TV shows, or make a comparison between Don Quixote and John Rambo of the Sylvester Stallone movie. Although some regard popular culture as "shallow," this book reveals that it is more often complex, deep, meaningful and subject to the style changes we associate with high art. Bergesen shows how complex philosophical ideas of reincarnation are embedded in Transformer toys; how sneakers have gone through a life cycle of style types; why the decline of empires like Spain and the United States led to fictional characters like Don Quixote and Rambo; and why monsters from Japan look different than those from the United States.
“Professor Bergesen is as capable as any of us in the profession in running a regression equation. However, his genius, as manifested in this illuminating book, lies in seeing patterns, connections, linkages, and stories that often tell us much more about human society than our most elaborate models. He opens up for us a world filled with fascinating possibilities.”Andrew M. Greeley, University of Chicago
Acknowledgments * Introduction: The Depth of Shallow Culture * The Baroque Sneaker: How the History of the Tennis Shoe Recapitulates Giorgio Vasari's Life Cycle of Art Styles * Rambo and Don Quixote: Cultural Icons of National Decline * A Sociology of Monsters: Making Mythical Creatures in the United States and Japan * A Sociology of Toys: How Transformers and Spiderman Embody the Philosophies of East and West * Bringing the Art Object Back In: Toward a New Realism in the Sociology of CultureReferences Index