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The origins of cool in postwar America

The origins of cool in postwar America / Joel Dinerstein.
Chicago : The University of Chicago Press, 2017.
Copyright Notice Date
Physical Description
541 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Cool'. It was a new word and a new way to be, and in a single generation, it became the supreme compliment of American culture. 'The Origins of Cool in Postwar America' uncovers the hidden history of this concept and its new set of codes that came to define a global attitude and style. As Joel Dinerstein reveals in this dynamic book, cool began as a stylish defiance of racism, a challenge to suppressed sexuality, a philosophy of individual rebellion, and a youthful search for social change. Through eye-opening portraits of iconic figures, Dinerstein illuminates the cultural connections and artistic innovations among Lester Young, Humphrey Bogart, Robert Mitchum, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Jack Kerouac, Albert Camus, Marlon Brando, and James Dean, among others. We eavesdrop on conversations among John-Paul Sartre, Simone De Beauvoir, and Miles Davis, and on a forgotten debate between Lorraine Hansberry and Norman Mailer over the "white negro" and Black cool. We come to understand how the cool worlds of Beat writers and Method actors emerged from the intersections of film noir, jazz, and existentialism. Out of this mix, Dinerstein sketches nuanced definitions of cool that unite concepts from African-American and Euro-American culture: the stylish stoicism of the ethical rebel loner; the relaxed intensity of the improvising jazz musician; the effortless, physical grace of the Method actor. To be cool is not to be hip and to be hot is definitely not to be cool.
Added to Catalog
June 16, 2017
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Prelude: Paris, 1949
Introduction: the origins of cool
Lester Young and the birth of cool
Humphrey Bogart and the birth of noir cool from the Great Depression
Albert Camus and the birth of existential cool from the idea of rebellion (and the blues)
Billie Holiday and Simone de Beauvoir: toward a postwar cool for women
Cool convergences, 1950: jazz, noir, existentialism
A generational interlude: postwar II (1953-1963) and the shift in cool
Kerouac and the cool mind: jazz and zen
From noir cool to Vegas cool: swinging into prosperity with Frank Sinatra
American rebel cool: Brando, Dean, Elvis
Sonny Rollins and Miles Davis sound out cool individuality
Hip versus cool in the Fugitive kind (1960) and Paris blues
Lorraine Hansberry and the end of postwar cool
Epilogue: the many lives of postwar cool.

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