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The 1980s

A Critical and Transitional Decade

Kimberly R. Moffitt and Duncan A. Campbell - Contributions by Reynaldo Anderson; Virginia Anderson; Alan Bilton; Jeffery B. Cook; Michael Dwyer; Philip Glahn; Ivan Greenberg; Heather E. Harris; Nikita Harris; Jana K. Lipman; Stephen McVeigh; Scott A. Merriman; Kimberly R. Moffitt; Suzuko Morikawa; Andrew R. Murphy; Caryn E. Neumann; N'Jai-An Patters; James Braxton Peterson; Paul M. Pressley; Demian Ryder; Thomas F. Schaller; James Schnell; Kristin Sorensen; Jessie Swigger; Jason Thompson; Kirk Tyvela; David Uskovich and Robert P. Weiss

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As we approach twenty years since the end of the 1980s, we have the opportunity to see the decade in perspective, and are in a position to question the glib assumption that the 1980s were a mere conservative foil to the 1960s. The 1980s: A Critical and Transitional Decade, edited by Kimberly R. Moffitt and Duncan A. Campbell, places its topics within the context of a decade described as both critical and transitional because the 1980s, in many respects, marked the end of one era and the beginning of another. For example, the Reagan presidency, the end of the Cold War, MTV, and the appearance of the personal computer all reflect a legacy of political, cultural, and social transformation of the United States and the world, and took place specifically within the 1980s. The function of this interdisciplinary volume is not to simply highlight the significant phenomena of the period, but rather demonstrate how so many apparently disparate events were, in fact, closely inter-related and also products of their age. The 1980s is a holistic analysis of the decade that focuses on major turning points, developments in literature, art, entertainment, politics, and social experimentation. The 1980s: A Critical and Transitional Decade, edited by Kimberly R. Moffitt and Duncan A. Campbell is a groundbreaking and stand-alone introductory volume that is unapologetically interdisciplinary in nature and encourages students to explore topics of the decade often overlooked or grouped together with other, more memorable decades such as the 1920s or 1960s. « less more »
Lexington Books
Pages: 506Size: 6 1/4 x 9
978-0-7391-4313-1 • Hardback • December 2010 • $126.00 • (£85.00)
978-0-7391-4314-8 • Paperback • December 2010 • $51.99 • (£34.95)
Kimberly R. Moffitt is assistant professor of American studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Duncan A. Campbell is assistant professor of history at National University.
Chapter 1 Acknowledgments
Chapter 2 Introduction: The 80s as a Decade
Part 3 PART 1:"FREEDOM AND SECURITY GO TOGETHER:" REAGAN'S INFLUENCE DURING THE 80s
Chapter 4 1. Ronald W. Reagan: Redefining the Presidency
Chapter 5 2. Reagan Revives FBI Spying
Chapter 6 3. The "Real" Right Turn: The Reagan Supreme Court
Chapter 7 4. "Privatizing the Leviathan State: A 'Reaganomic' Legacy"
Chapter 8 5. "Airlines? Lousy Unions." Airline Workers in the Era of Deregulation and Hostile Takeover
Part 9 PART 2:"YEAH, WELL, HISTORY'S GONNA CHANGE:"UNDERSTANDING THE 80s BEYOND REAGAN
Chapter 10 6. Triumph of "The Gipper" and the Democratic Party Malaise in the 1980s
Chapter 11 7. The Christian Right's Traditionalist Jeremiad: Piety and Politics in the Age of Reagan
Chapter 12 8. New Right, New History, Common Ground: Populism and the Past
Chapter 13 9. An Army of One in 1:18 Scale: The Profit of Patriotism in G.I. Joe
Chapter 14 10. "Fixing" the Fifties: Alex P. Keaton and Marty McFly
Part 15 PART 3:"TAKE A CHILL PILL, MAN:" COMING TO TERMS WITH THE SOCIAL ILLS OF THE 80s
Chapter 16 11. How Broadway has Cared: The AIDS Epidemic and the Great White Way
Chapter 17 12. Counterpublic Art and Social Practice
Chapter 18 13. Date Rape and Sexual Politics
Chapter 19 14. A Culture in Panic: Day Care Abuse Scandals and the Vulnerability of Children
Chapter 20 15. What's Class Got to Do with It?: Facets of Tracy Chapman through Song
Part 21 PART 4:"WE ARE THE WORLD:" UNDERSTANDING THE 80s BEYOND AMERICA'S BORDERS
Chapter 22 16.Reading MTV: The Proliferation of United States Culture in the Age of Globalization
Chapter 23 17. The United States and Apartheid
Chapter 24 18. The Opening of China and the Evolution of China-U.S.Cross-Cultural Understanding
Chapter 25 19. U.S. Foreign Policy in Latin America on Film: The Case of Salvador
Chapter 26 20. Cold War Crucible: The Berlin Wall and American Exceptionalism
Part 27 PART 5:"TOTALLY AWESOME, 80s:" A DECADE OF ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Chapter 28 21. Fear of a Black Planet: Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan, and Eddie Murphy and the Globalization of Black Masculinity
Chapter 29 22. Matter and Mammon: Fiction in the Age of Reagan
Chapter 30 23. Alternative for Alternative's Sake: Progressive College Radio'sProgramming Struggles
Chapter 31 24. "Life in Marvelous Times:" Commemorative Narratives of the Golden Era in Hip Hop Culture
Chapter 32 25. "Do We Get to Win this Time?" Movies, Mythology, and Political Culture in "Reagan Country"
Chapter 33 Selected Bibliography
Chapter 34 Index
Chapter 35 About the Contributors
The 1980s: A Critical and Transitional Decade provides a reading of the American 1980s in the broadest possible terms, expanding our understanding of the decade across politics, sociology, and culture. Its multi-disciplinary approach offers new ways in which to conceptualize both America's relationship with itself and the nation's position in a rapidly globalizing world. The book is an excellent resource for thinking about how one writes the history of the recent past.
Graham Thompson, University of Nottingham


The authors of this unusually varied collection of essays examining the 1980s include established academics and younger scholars in disciplines ranging from history and literature to film criticism and cultural studies. Ronald Reagan is a central figure, but he does not dominate the collection, which includes topics as diverse as date rape, MTV, GI Joe action figures, and college radio programming. Some essays approach conventional topics in unconventional ways. US policy in Latin America is explored through Oliver Stone's film Salvador, and African Americans are examined through hip-hop, policy on South African apartheid, and black masculinity (represented by Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan, and Eddie Murphy). Film and music are at the core of several essays, and AIDS is investigated through its impact on Broadway theater. Reagan policies receive scrutiny in articles on FBI surveillance, privatization, anti-labor activities and deregulation, and Supreme Court appointments and decisions, and the conservative turn of US politics receives attention in several essays. Although quirky, this collection is satisfying. It challenges readers to look beyond conventional political retrospectives and explore the impact of cultural trends, alternative viewpoints, social problems, and the changing role of the US in the world. Highly recommended. Most levels/libraries.
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