Digital culture has enveloped us more quickly and more thoroughly than most of us had imagined. But what can be done about it? Many adults, overwhelmed by a changed reality, shrug off the problem. After all, reading technologies have changed in the past; television altered consciousness and social patterns sixty years ago, and kids survived and became adults.
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Or so we would like to think. Some of this indifference may be caused by rueful self-acknowledgment on the part of adults. Many of us are looking at screens all the time, too. Even the book lovers, carrying some tome on an airplane, or listening to an audiobook in the car, turn on their phones as soon as they can. Was it better once? I know perfectly well that there was never a Golden Age of Teen Reading. No more than a minority read, on their own, J. Yet now that minority has grown even smaller—and defensive, too. The celebrated nerds among kids are mostly techies.
The plea for beauty and moral complexity may sound merely plaintive. Few of us are as fierce as the gentle Keats. Novelists, poets, essayists, and university humanists, emerging from their proud corners, find it hard to talk of character, judgment, perceptiveness, wit, empathy, and other such virtues encouraged by serious reading. Earlier ages the Greeks, the Victorians, etc. If the rest of us give up on book reading without a fight, we will regret it, even be ashamed as the culture hollows out.
I will put it tendentiously. Trump seriously for a second?
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If they tried, they would have to buck the metric prejudice, the American notion that assertions unsupported with statistics are virtually meaningless. What they know about literature and its effects is literally and spiritually immeasurable. The Times reported on Monday that at least fifteen state governments were offering some type of bonus or premium for high-demand STEM degrees.
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So much for the crippling effects of the humanities. But this STEM panic may be nonsense. Business leaders have repeatedly said they want to hire people who can think and judge, follow complicated instructions, understand fellow-workers, stand up and talk in a meeting. I know that reading literature, history, science, and the rest of the liberal-arts canon helps produce three-dimensional human beings.
Do Teens Read Seriously Anymore? | The New Yorker
But how is a taste for such reading created in the first place? In the good ones, books are read aloud, valued, expounded, held up for kids to enjoy. The rest of American children arrive at school in kindergarten and are then, for thirteen years, either nurtured or betrayed by teachers. Teachers are the most maligned and ignored professionals in American life. In the humanities, the good ones are as central to our emotional and moral life as priests, ministers, rabbis, and imams.
British youth divided into factions. There were the modern jazz kids, the trad jazz kids, the rock and roll teenagers and the skiffle craze. Coffee bars were a meeting place for all the types of youth and the coolest ones were said to be in Soho , London. Ban the Bomb marches became a very successful British social phenomenon.
Teenage music and subculture was parodied in the play and movie The Music Man , particularly in the song " Ya Got Trouble ". A whole subculture grew around the sport and the associated parties, clothes, speech patterns and music. During the same time-frame skateboard riding developed as a parallel lifestyle to wave riding. Both forms of board riding continued throughout the remainder of the century and into the next. From these two sports young people learned to provide their own social structure within which they could display skills and excellence.
In the Congo Free State now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo , a youth subculture known as the Bills flourished, taking Western movies and cowboys as their main influence. In the Netherlands, two youth groups evolved in big cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht. One group, the Nozems , similar to the British Teds, and another called the Artistiekelingen , who can be compared to the bohemian artists of pre-world-war France.
The Nozems spent their time listening to rock and roll music, driving motorcycles through town and picking up ladies while the Artistiekelingen would discuss philosophy, paint, draw and listen to jazz music. In the s, the beats AKA beatniks grew to be an even larger subculture, spreading around the world.
Other s subcultures included radicals , mods , rockers , bikers , hippies and the freak scene. One of the main transitional features between the beat scene and the hippies was the Merry Pranksters ' journey across the United States with Neal Cassady and Ken Kesey , in a psychedelically-painted school bus named Further.
In the USA, the hippies' big year was , the so-called summer of love. The rude boy culture originated in the ghettos of Jamaica , coinciding with the popular rise of rocksteady music, dancehall celebrations and sound system dances. Rude boys dressed in the latest fashions, and many were involved with gangs and violence. This subculture then spread to the United Kingdom and other countries.
The mod subculture began with a few cliques of trendy teenage boys in London, England in the late s, but was at its most popular during the early s. Mods were obsessed with new fashions such as slim-cut suits; and music styles such as modern jazz, rhythm and blues, soul, ska , and some beat music.
Many of them rode scooters. The mod and rude boy cultures both influenced the skinhead subculture of the late s. The skinheads were a harder, more working class version of mods who wore basic clean-cut clothing styles and favoured ska, rocksteady, soul and early reggae music. Subcultures were often based on socializing and wild behaviour, but some of them were centred around politics.
Allen Ginsberg took part in several protest movements, including those for gay rights and those against the Vietnam War and nuclear weapons. In Paris, France in May , there was a university student uprising, supported by Jean-Paul Sartre and other intellectuals who signed a statement asserting "the right to disobedience.
The Hacker culture was beginning to form in the s, due to the increased usage of computers at colleges and universities. Students who were fascinated by the possible uses of computers and other technologies began figuring out ways to make technology more freely accessible.
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- Youthful Forms by Ange Mlinko | Poetry Foundation.
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The international Happening and Fluxus movements also had its beginnings in the s, evolving out of the Beat subculture. In the s, the hippie, mod and rocker subcultures were in a process of transformation, which temporarily took on the name of freaks openly embracing the image of strangeness. A growing awareness of identity politics combined with the legalisation of homosexuality and a huge amount of interest in science fiction and fantasy forms of speculative writing produced the freak scene.
Bands on the freak circuit cultivated an anti-capitalist, communal lifestyle. It was a continuation of the trendies of the s mod culture, appealing to the androgynous trend of the s. Computer usage was still a very inaccessible secret world to most people in those days, but many people were interested in computers because of their appearance in science fiction. The dream of one day owning a computer was a popular fantasy amongst science fiction fandom , which had grown from a minor subculture in the first half of the 20th century to a quite large contingent by the s, along with horror fandom, comics fandom and fantasy freaks.
The skinhead subculture from the late s continued into the s, and some skinheads became influenced by the punk subculture. These skinheads became associated with the Oi! Disco , which had begun in gay dance clubs, became a significant from about onward. In some sectors, particularly in the New York City area, where disco had seemingly "taken over" all aspects of youth life, an aggressive counter-disco movement was born. Musically and lyrically, punk rock was the intentional antithesis of the disco scene, the progressive rock genre and the hippie subculture. Early punks played aggressive, quick-paced three-chord rock and roll songs.
Within the decay of the hippie subculture, some of the remaining branches of bikers progressively turned in metalheads with succeeding aesthetics of horror and violence of late 's that influenced progressive rock hard rock in the more obscure form of early heavy metal. Metalheads preserved the instituted use of long hairs, took garnments from leather culture of late 's and formed a culture on separatism and orthodoxy against mainstream. In , a hit song " Convoy " by C. McCall arrived in the pop charts and romanticised the Trucker and CB radio subculture.
The word " convoy " and quotes from the song lyrics became part of a popular cultural image of people standing up for their freedom. Gradually, from the s, s and through into the s, the cultural influences of the Merry Pranksters , the freak scene, the New Age movement and the Convoy idea seem to have coalesced into what became New age travellers. Beginning around , the anarcho-punk scene in the UK developed the band Crass and related bands, including The Poison Girls.
The Crass Records label was an independent operation, enabling bands with an extremely raw sound to put out records when the major labels might not have bothered with them. Crass also organised gigs around the country for themselves and other bands, and campaigned politically for the anti-nuclear movement other causes. Mods made a comeback in the late s as a post-punk mod revival , inspired by The Jam and the British film Quadrophenia.