History Descending a Staircase: American Historians and American Culture

How can we fathom the values and preoccupations of the American people (no matter what their race, gender, or class) without paying attention to the nation’s literature, painting, architecture, music, theater, and movies? If culture plays as significant a role as social, political, or economic issues in helping us make sense of the American past, why then do American historians expend so much effort analyzing the plight of women and workers, or the policies of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, and almost no time at all interpreting the paintings of Edward Hopper, the cartoons of Walt Disney, the lyrics of Cole Porter, the choreography of Jerome Robbins, the plays of Eugene O’Neill, or the films of Elia Kazan? —Richard PellsHistory Descending a Staircase: American Historians and American Culture (Chronicle of Higher Education)