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The Refinement of America

Persons, Houses, Cities

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Description

This lively and authoritative volume makes clear that the quest for taste and manners in America has been essential to the serious pursuit of a democratic culture. Spanning the material world from mansions and silverware to etiquette books, city planning, and sentimental novels, Richard L. Bushman shows how a set of values originating in aristocratic court culture gradually permeated almost every stratum of American society and served to prevent the hardening of class consciousness. A work of immense and richly nuanced learning, The Refinement of America newly illuminates every facet of both our artifacts and our values.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Aug 31, 1992 – If Bushman is correct, it was not until the mid-19th century that a majority of middle-class Americans displayed a concern for taste and beauty in their dress, comportment, manners and houses. From colonial times to the Revolution, he writes, gentility was the exclusive province of the gentry--wealthy merchants, planters, clergymen and professionals who copied a Renaissance-inspired ideal imitated by Europe's aristocracy. This intriguing social history shows how a diluted version of gentility became an underpinning of middle-class self-respect as millions of Americans moved into houses with book-lined parlors, consulted etiquette manuals and cultivated gardens. Bushman, a Columbia history professor, argues that the worldly, leisure-oriented genteel code clashed with egalitarian and religious values yet fueled the ethos of consumption that helped capitalism thrive. Photos. BOMC and History Book Club alternates.
The Refinement of America
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  • $14.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: United States
  • Published: Sep 08, 1992
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 528 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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