For a long time I have had two main areas of research interest: sociology of culture and feminist theory. My contributions to a sociology of culture draw upon the findings of a series of funded empirical research projects, exploring contemporary developments in the culture industry with a special focus on changing cultural forms. Following the publication of the jointly authored book on The Global Culture Industry: The Mediation of Things (with Lash, Polity, 2007), I am developing my research interest in the question of cultural change through my participation in a 20-partner EU-funded interdisciplinary network on ‘A Topological Approach to Cultural Dynamics’. This network – which draws on recent developments in philosophy and mathematical thinking to address questions of cultural and social change, space and intensity – is part of what has been called a topological turn in cultural theory. My ideas on what this might mean are developed in recent and forthcoming publications including the Introduction to a Special Issue of the European Journal of Social Theory on ‘What is the empirical?’, co-edited with Lisa Adkins and an article on ‘Brands as assemblage: assembling culture’ to appear in the journal Cultural Economy (forthcoming). It will also inform the book (co-edited with Nina Wakeford) on Inventive Methods, (Routledge). I continue to be interested in brands and branding (Brands: the logos of the global cultural economy, 2004 as I have found them illuminating objects to think with as well as problematic objects to live with/out. I am enthusiastic about the new MA in Brands, Communication and Culture that is just starting at Goldsmiths (organised by Dr Liz Moor in Media and Communications, but with the involvement of myself and others in Sociology). My contributions to feminist theory primarily concern the issue of gender as a kind of becoming (Prosthetic Culture, Feminism and Autobiography) and the changing significance of gender as a social and natural category (Global Nature, Global Culture). I have participate in the annual conferences and workshops linked to the MA Gender, Culture and Media.
"You will not read a more important book about America this year."—The Economist
"A riveting book."—The Wall Street Journal
"Essential reading."—David Brooks, New York Times
Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The disintegration of this group, a process that has been slowly occurring now for more than forty years, has been reported with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.
The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually one of their grandchildren would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of success in achieving generational upward mobility. But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that J.D.'s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, never fully escaping the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. With piercing honesty, Vance shows how he himself still carries around the demons of his chaotic family history.
A deeply moving memoir, with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.
Since its first publication in 1995, Lies My Teacher Told Me has become one of the most important—and successful—history books of our time. Having sold nearly two million copies, the book also won an American Book Award and the Oliver Cromwell Cox Award for Distinguished Anti-Racist Scholarship and was heralded on the front page of the New York Times in the summer of 2006.
For this new edition, Loewen has added a new preface that shows how inadequate history courses in high school help produce adult Americans who think Donald Trump can solve their problems, and calls out academic historians for abandoning the concept of truth in a misguided effort to be “objective.”
What started out as a survey of the twelve leading American history textbooks has ended up being what the San Francisco Chronicle calls “an extremely convincing plea for truth in education.” In Lies My Teacher Told Me, James W. Loewen brings history alive in all its complexity and ambiguity. Beginning with pre-Columbian history and ranging over characters and events as diverse as Reconstruction, Helen Keller, the first Thanksgiving, the My Lai massacre, 9/11, and the Iraq War, Loewen offers an eye-opening critique of existing textbooks, and a wonderful retelling of American history as it should—and could—be taught to American students.