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Well Met: Renaissance Faires and the American Counterculture Hardcover – Nov 19 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 359 pages
  • Publisher: New York Univ Pr (Nov. 19 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814771386
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814771389
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.4 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 612 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,275,528 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"Anti-modernism remains one of modernity's most significant and lasting inventions, and in Rachel Rubin's Well Met the theme finally gets its due. In the odd but telling subculture of the Renaissance Faire, Rubin finds anti-modernism intertwined with some of the most important strands of twentieth-century American culture-waning traces of vaudeville, the rise of the counterculture, shifting gender arrangements and sexual practices, a hunger for usable pasts, a rising politics of theatricality, and the culture's impressive penchant for commercialized anti-commercialism. Rubin writes with deep insight and terrific humor; and as intelligent as the book is, it also embodies a joyful appreciation for the quirky inventiveness of its protagonists. I can't wait for the movie!"-Matthew Frye Jacobson,Yale University "Fascinating account of the evolution of a US institution."-Choice "Rubin effectively probes how the [Renaissance] fairs exemplify familiar aspects of the American counterculture. She also seeks to illuminate how they are important not only as a forgotten aspect of a completed history but also as vibrant contemporary affairs...They are, for Rubin, spaces of continued counter-cultural activity that, through constant renegotiations of the past, invoke visions of future potential renaissances for a United States stuck in the dark ages." -Michael J. Kramer,Journal of American History "[C]areful, informative, and thought-provoking...Well Met is packed with welcome detours into fascinating historical byways."-Slate "Academic but pleasingly readable."-Ander Monson,LA Review of Books "Rubin wins over readers...she argues compellingly."-H-Net Reviews "The strength of Rachel Lee Rubin's book is that she understands and celebrates this- the point of Renaissance fairs is that a lot of people find pleasure in them."-Durrants "Rubin's book is a trailblazer."-Colorado Springs Independent "A must read for anyone interested in a nonstereotypical view of the faire, its adherents, and why it retains its appeal decades after its inception."-Library Journal "Fascinating [and] forthcoming."-San Francisco Bay Guardian "In its first decade, the Renaissance Faire unleashed a multi-colored sub-culture in direct revolt against the monochrome of postwar America. It was a home-grown explosion of fancy dress, Shakespearian improv, hand-made objects both useful and ornamental, and music ancient and obscure, much of it heard for the first time in the dusty lanes of the Faire. Rachel Rubin deftly reveals the impact the Faire has had on style, craft, performance, and pop culture over the past fifty years in a one-of-a-kind study that begins in the left-wing lanes of Laurel Canyon, continues through backstage conflicts and couplings, and concludes with the corporatized, commercialized Festivals and geeky Ren-fandom of today. Well Met is a must-read to revel in the true roots of 'Sixties' culture. I know. I was there."-David Ossman,member of the Firesign Theatre

About the Author

Rachel Lee Rubin is Professor of American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She is author of Immigration and American Popular Culture (with Jeffrey Melnick, NYU Press) and Jewish Gangsters of Modern Literature, and co-editor of American Popular Music: New Approaches to the Twentieth Century and Radicalism in the South since Reconstruction.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 16 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Excellent history of "the Faire" Dec 20 2012
By Freddy - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very nice piece of scholarship by Ms. Rubin. Each page is dense with Faire history, context and socio-political analysis of the milieu from which the Faire has evolved. The people and theatrical productions and techniques that have shaped the Faire are discussed and explained with a thoroughness that will help those who enjoy the Faire to understand why the Faire has become important to them. There is also an interesting chapter on those folks who dislike the Faire and an examination of why this is the case. This book, at times, is a somewhat intellectual analysis, but none-the-less somehow manages to not get dull. I found it to be a very enjoyable read that moved along at a brisk pace.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Renaissance Revealed! Jan. 27 2013
By Douglas S. Kondziolka - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the stories of the Renaissance Festival subculture that the book had to offer. As a member of an act which has been performing at Festivals for over 30 years I found most of the information to be accurate and I enjoyed the mini-interviews with various participants. It obviously originates from an "academic" POV and maintains much of this flavor in the book. I do wish it had been written better; at times the writing is difficult to follow....
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Highly Recommended! Aug. 4 2014
By d. hostetler - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As an artist/shopkeeper at the MN Renaissance Festival I've been a Fest participant for almost 30 years. Over the course of that time I've noticed that people everywhere seem to be of two minds about it: they either love Fest and absolutely everything about it, or they hate it completely (even if they've never set foot there....). I loved it from the moment I visited for the first time in the 70s, and becoming a part of it a decade later felt like Coming Home to my Clan. But many of my family members, co-workers, neighbors, friends, etc. had (and still have) no idea what to make of it, and so to avoid their negative opinions I've learned to keep Fest close to my heart unless asked about it. I've often wondered over the years if the judgmental reactions I've gotten haven't made me feel a bit ashamed.... Finding this book has turned everything around for me. Half a chapter into it and I was already urging my guy to purchase a copy so we could read it together. It's taught us both something new and given us TONS to talk about. Thank you, Rachel Lee Rubin. Your book has renewed my pride in being a part of such a fascinating (and often misunderstood) subculture.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
It's a wonderful and personal journey May 26 2013
By john - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was very much involved with this original Renaissance Faire. The Faire, and so many people mentioned in this book who made it happen, brought a lot of magic to my life that I will never forget. Reading the book takes me back. A real joy to read.

John Reed
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The Renaissance Faire - Counterculture People & Lifestyle May 13 2013
By Adlai Climan - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A great history of the Faire as the seeds were planted, grew, blossomed, matured. For those who have ever worked a faire, a must-read. For those who ever visited a faire, particularly in California, tis will tell you how it all started and show you the "man behind the curtain" as they say in Oz. Lots of quotes from people I know, but if these are just names on paper, they won't have as much meaing for the casual reader. Could use LOTS more photos.