Livin the American Dream

Last week, we focused on shopping malls and how they have transformed the American consumer society. We started off the week by watching a Hillsdale Shopping Mall promotional video from 1957 entitled: “Shopping Can Be Fun”. Although it seemed a little goofy, many of the gimmicks used to attract shoppers to the Hillsdale Mall are […]

Last week in class we finished our discussion of Isenberg’s Downtown America. We started off the week discussing urban renewal. The goal of this movement was to update downtown in order to attract the white, middle-class housewife to do her shopping there. The Housing Act of 1954’s objective was to tear down housing in the […]

Two weeks ago, the New York Yankees played their last game in the House that Ruth Built – the original Yankee Stadium on 161 Street in the Bronx. On that Sunday night, the fans didn’t care so much that the Yanks beat the Baltimore Orioles, or that a postseason in New York was virtually impossible. […]

The above quote was overheard while browsing around the “Made in Virginia Store” during my trip to downtown Fredericksburg on Friday afternoon. I’ve been hanging out downtown for four years now, but I’ve never seen the town through a more anthropological view as I did on Friday. The date was Friday, September 26th, and the […]

When Professor Moon began this week’s discussion by singing Petula Clark’s “Downtown”, I knew it was going to be a good week. According to author Alison Isenberg, Downtown America is a “history of the place the the people who made it”. The book begins with a section on the City Beautiful movement that caused the […]

We spent last week finishing up Susan Strasser’s book, Satisfaction Guaranteed. We discussed how companies used promotions and sales to push the sale of a product. Gimmicks like coupons, redeemable points, display cases, and new “helps” were new ways of displaying products and selling modernism to consumers. A new era of retailing evolved with the […]

Last week of class was a little more digestible than the previous week of Marx and Baudrillard. By discussing Susan Strasser’s book, “Satisfaction Guaranteed”, we explored the 19th and 20th century process that took American customers and turned them into consumers. In the beginning of the 19th century, artisans produced goods. Customers bought local goods […]

A week of theory

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I was relieved to hear Professor Moon say that this week’s reading would be the most difficult all semester. Marx and Baudrillard’s theories on consumerism weren’t exactly easy bedside reading. I guess it does make sense to lay a foundation in theory for this course and then further explore the topic. Consumerism is the study […]

Crocs? Seriously?

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When my boss was sporting these shoes around the office three years ago, I was a little taken aback. Now, Jen had always had questionable taste in fashion, but when she ensured me that these “Crocs” were popular among athletes, I was amazed at what fads Americans will think are cool. I am still in […]

Karl Marx’s 1867 writing, “The Fetishism of the Commodity and it’s Secret”, is definitely….dense. I think it will take a couple of readings to really understand it, but here are some of my impressions after reading it for the first time.  To my understanding, Marx is examining how the value of a commodity is dependent […]

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