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Culture

Fashion once expressed America’s class distinctions. But it doesn’t any more.

A Chicago judge ruled in 1908 that a nightgown was a luxury, not a necessity, and thereupon issued a restraining order forbidding an eighteen-year-old girl from buying one against her father’s wishes. Read more >>

The word emerged during the Depression to define a new kind of American adolescence—one that prevailed for half a century and may now be ending

Our ancestors look gravely and steadily upon things that we cannot

In the course of this lethal century, death has been rendered increasingly abstract—a choreographed plunge on the television screen, the punch of a red button in a bomber or a computer game, a statistic in a column of print. Read more >>

A controversial recent book suggests that what we think of as good manners is a relatively new thing, a commodity manufactured to meet the needs of an industrial age. But now that the Industrial Revolution is over, we may need them more than ever—for very different reasons.

All of us have encountered surly check-out cashiers, come up against uncivil civil servants, and witnessed rude public behavior. The couple behind us who talk through the entire movie. The stranger who lets the shop door slam in our face. Read more >>

For more than a century now, American homeowners have been struggling to remake their small patch of the environment into a soft, green carpet just like the neighbor’s. Who told us this was the way a lawn had to be?

When it comes to lawn care, my father has always insisted on doing it the hard way. No shortcuts or modern conveniences for him. Read more >>

Very. The legacy of British traits in America is deeper and more significant than we knew.

As one of the most imaginative historians in contemporary America, David Hackett Fischer has produced a work that may put his fellow scholars’ teeth on edge. Read more >>

For a century now it has been a haven to some, an outrage to others—and it is one of the very few social institutions that have survived their founders’ world

I‘m sorry, son,” said the father to his young offspring in a New Yorker cartoon some years ago, “but we WASPs have no tribal wisdom to pass on.” Read more >>

What seemed to be just another tempest in the teapot of academia has escalated into a matter of national values and politics. Who would have believed that the choice of which books Stanford University students must read would create so much tumult? And that the controversy goes back so far?

Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind must surely be the most unexpected happening of American intellectual life in recent years. It is an erudite, closely argued book of philosophy and cultural criticism. Read more >>

For generations it was the mainspring, the proof, and the reward of a civilized social life. Now, a fond student of the ritual looks back on the golden age of the dinner party and tells you just how you should have behaved.

The modern city plays host to conventions and tourists, but it still retains the slightly racy charm that has always made it dear to its natives

Writers have been good to New Orleans, or maybe it’s the other way around. Read more >>

Had Thomas Morton raised his maypole anywhere but next door to the Pilgrims, history and legend probably would have no record of him, his town, or his “lascivious” revels

TIME: Summer, 1628. Read more >>

The author of ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ never set foot on our shores, but he had a clear and highly personal vision of what we were and what we had been

FOR A WHILE George Orwell thought of calling his novel about life in a totalitarian future The Last Man in Europe. Read more >>

Today more Americans live in them than in city and country combined. How did we get there?

ABOUT SUBURBS, ONLY COMMUTERS know for sure. Read more >>

When did we start saying it? And why?

FROM THE OIL FIELDS of Indonesia to the tulip fields of Holland to the rice fields of Brazil, a traveler overhears conversations sounding something like this: Read more >>

Our fascination with categorizing ourselves was fed in 1949 by a famous essay and chart that divided us by taste into different strata of culture. Now the man who invented these classifications brings us up to date.

RUSSELL LYNES , despite being known to his friends as the most amiable of men, is nationally famous as a witty and sometimes acerbic commentator on American society and its manners. Read more >>

With astonishing tenacity, the people of the rich river-mouth region of the Mississippi have remained what and where they are through two and a half centuries

Just a few decades more, or so we are told, and the process of the homogenization of America will have been completed. Read more >>

The Brief, Sentimental Age of the Rural Cemetery

Several years ago Thornton’s Mortuary, an Atlanta funeral home, announced a new service available to its customers. Read more >>

The Seasons of Man in the Ozarks

Sometime in the sleep of every year, between the browning of the oaks and the first greening of the spring wild grasses, that country flamed. Read more >>

Isolation ends for “the People of Peace”

Perched on the edge of a rocky mesa six hundred feet above the desert of northeastern Arizona is the Hopi Indian village of Hotevilla. Read more >>

In the hands of a rococo Yankee named Clyde Fitch, the American stage came of age with a gasp of scandalized shock

The first-night audience that poured out of Wallack’s Theatre in 1900 must have appreciated the cold February air, for they had just watched a thoroughly shocking play. Read more >>

The Literary Lights Were Always Bright at

Everyone wanted to be invited to 148 Charles Street, where Charles Dickens mixed the punch and taught the guests parlor games, John Greenleaf Whittier and Harriet Beecher Stowe vied in telling ghost stories, and Nathaniel Hawthorne paced the bedroom floor one unhappy night in t Read more >>

For almost two decades at the turn of the century illustrated songs charmed nickelodeon audiences.