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Ars Americana, Ars Politica: Partisan Expression in Contemporary American Literature and Culture [Paperback]

Peter Swirski
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 10 2010
<DIV>As partisan attacks have become increasingly bitter in American politics, contemporary culture has found ways to channel this outrage into the outrageous, responding with comedy and satire from both sides of the political spectrum. Ars Americana, Ars Politica cross-examines American politics, culture, and history by examining Irving Wallace’s The Man, Richard Condon’s Death of a Politician, P.J. O’Rourke’s Parliament of Whores, Warren Beatty’s film Bulworth, and Michael Moore’s Stupid White Men to show how these popular artists have used soap-box partisanship and box-office artertainment to affect history.</div>

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"Ars Americana is fascinating and original - and the subject of political literature is endlessly interesting and important. Written with a certain verve which carries the reader along!" Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States

"A provocative and energetic book that reaches out beyond academia in an attempt to define the nature of American political literature." Financial Times

"Peter Swirski has presented us with a soundly researched, passionate, and beautifully written work - a Jeremiad about other Jeremiads, and a powerful critique of American society and politics as reflected in American media and popular culture." Arthur Asa Berger, Professor Emeritus in American Studies, Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts, San Francisco State University

About the Author

Peter Swirski is a professor of American studies at the University of Hong Kong, the author of From Lowbrow to Nobrow and editor of I Sing the Body Politic: History as Prophecy in Modern American Literature.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I'm a long time fan of this scholar, so much so that since From Lowbrow to Nobrow I bought almost everything he wrote and recommended his books to colleagues in my departement. Every time professor Swirski writes a book that is eye opening on everything under the sky: American literature, history, politics, social issues, urban issues, crime, American society. I have a special liking for From Lowbrow to Nobrow which is in my eye the most original book ever although it addresses itself to a subject that is everywhere, viz popular litertature and culture. But just like nobody remarked on falling apples before Newton (if the orchard anecdote is not apocryphal, something I never found out) From Lowbrow to Nobrow took a step back from the obvious critiques of mass culture and genre fiction and from the voices that see nothing wrong with it, and delivered an original point of view on the rise of a new culture and a new literary formation "nobrow".
It's the same in Ars Americana. You may have heard about the Bush administration, about Michael Moore, about 'political' movies in Hollywood, about Nixon and Watergate, or Reagonomics, Howard Zinn, the Black Panthers, the LA riots of 1992, the news 'fakers', the right-of-Kaiser Fox, the one-party system that holds America in its unrelenting grip, and a million other things, but if you never knew what it was REALLY all about, how much truth there was in various and sometimes conflicting reports about them, and how much the myths that we are fed everyday under the pretense of national security, gross domestic product, free enterprise, and all other "we are the champions" rhetoric, are true. Well, now you can know it all, like one reviewer on the back cover says, since can check everything against Ars Americana.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Swirski's book is a breath of fresh air June 25 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Ars Americana Ars Politica is an exceedingly well-researched and illuminating study of American political art. Swirski’s passionate defense of nowbrow partisan literature and film and how they have endeavoured to shed some light on the shady back doorsteps of American politics is refreshing.

Analyzing five popular works within the political and social eras each was created in, Swirski illustrates the profound insights each provides. As Swirski writes, “Political ‘artertainment’ can…not only inform but inspire political action.”

This beautifully written book is a breath of fresh air in an environment of conflicting information, political deception, and mistrust of the media. Ars Americana Ars Politica is an enjoyable and enlightening read for anyone who is interested in American popular culture and in discovering the truth about American politics. I truly loved this book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Politics and literature have never been so funny! Nov. 29 2010
By WY Chu
Peter Swirski has once again done his magic ' turning what are commonly perceived as serious and high-threshold (not to say high-brow) subjects, namely politics and literature, into witty and humorous hot talks of the day. Forming the core of 'Ars Americana, Ars Politica' are five 'nobrow' political bestsellers which, in the author's opinion, even though they have made remarkable strides in opening America's eyes to their government, have as yet failed to receive the (popular) artistic recognition they deserve. Analyzing the books against the political background each was published in, 'Ars Americana' strives to reeducate American readers on how to appreciate the popular aesthetics of these partisan and politically influential works.

However, this landmark work by Swirski is more than just 'literary-critical'. Even more it is a 'history-critical study with a political stance'. By showing how the political leprosy these five works condemned ago are still relevant today, it leaves a resounding mark on readers' minds, provoking their awareness of current political abuses and idiocies.

Attempting to give readers a more systematic overview on how modern American politics has evolved'or in fact, how it has NOT evolved regardless of how many decades pass by'Ars Americana is explicitly organized chapter by chapter in chronological order. Representing the 60s is Wallace's 'The Man' which head-on challenged the status quo of white dominant society by creating a black president and putting him in America's most exquisite landmark of power, the Oval Office.
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