Issue 54 of the American Studies Journal explores a topic particularly interesting for teachers and students of American Studies: What is it like to grow up in urban spaces in the U.S.? Teaching “the city” is a common topic in the EFL classroom, and “youth culture” another. But both are difficult to tackle. There is always the danger of misrepresenting a topic so vast, creating stereotypes rather than questioning them and establishing a limited view on the subject.
This paper was written after a presentation at the American Embassy’s 2009 conference in Bonn for teachers of English and American Studies at German High Schools. Its aim is to offer these teachers a look at how young people (in their 20s and 30s) in the author’s home town of Portland, Oregon, are participating in three areas which improve community life: the green/sustainability movement, food culture, and the music scene.
This article identifies a particular aspect of hip-hop’s range of cultural production – conscious rap – in order to isolate one of the more politicized discursive options available to youth in America and a site where critical perspectives on post-Civil Rights America have emerged most forcefully. It further suggests that Obama’s political rise corresponds with a new phase in hip-hop and has impacted the ways in which its creative artists frame and articulate issues of race, class, and identity.
This paper examines films about youth of the late 1980s and 1990s in Los Angeles. While focusing on the analytical categories of space and race, the paper underscores the importance of historicizing and contextualizing the genre. Thus, it stresses the significance of successive waves of different ethnic immigration and argues that these created distinct enclaves, many of them internally homogenous in terms of race and class. The distinct enclaves both prepared the ground for the formation of the polynucleated and decentered modern megalopolis and influenced Hollywood’s vision of urban youth.
If historians tend to proceed from external data to hidden motivation of key players, the personal essayist typically moves from the intimate level to the plane of sociology, politics, and history. He becomes, therefore, a generational memoirist. In this autobiographical essay, Howard R. Wolf seeks to become a generational memoirist of New York City.