Love in America

A Cultural History of the Past Century

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About the Book

Widely considered the most complex of human emotions, romantic love both shapes and reflects core societal values, its expression offering a window into the cultural zeitgeist. In popular culture, romantic love has long been a mainstay of film, television and music. The gap between fictitious narratives of love and real-life ones is, however, usually wide—American’s expectations of romance and affection often transcend reality. Tracing the history of love in American culture, this book offers insight into both the national character and emotional nature.

About the Author(s)

Lawrence R. Samuel is the founder of AmeriCulture, a Miami- and New York-based consultancy helping organizations translate the emerging cultural landscape into business opportunities. He writes the Psychology Yesterday, Boomers 3.0, and Future Trends blogs for PsychologyToday.com. He lives in Miami, Florida.

Bibliographic Details

Lawrence R. Samuel
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 171
Bibliographic Info: 9 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7987-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3807-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Introduction 5
1. Our National Melancholia, 1920–1939 15
2. America’s No. 1 Problem?, 1940–1959 35
3. Revolt Against Love, 1960–1979 56
4. Are You Lovable?, 1980–1999 78
5. Your Brain on Love, 2000–2009 99
6. Ex Machina, 2010– 119
Conclusion 140
Chapter Notes 149
Bibliography 159
Index 163

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Do you think Love is eternal? Timeless? Always sublime Love in America: A Cultural History of the Past Century will persuade you otherwise. Lawrence Samuel takes readers on a gallop through the 20th century, showing how ideas about love, and its expression, have changed dramatically, along with social and cultural shifts. Using popular culture, expert advice, literature, and commentary from lovers themselves, Samuel shows that the meaning of love, for better or for worse, is constantly in flux.”—Elaine Tyler May, author of Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era

• “Is love an American obsession? Is free-wheeling sex spiraling? Has conventional marriage gone the way of the dinosaurs? Anyone who is concerned that we are forging entirely new patterns of courtship and wedding will discover, from this fascinating book, that those of the 1920s (and on) suffered the same angst. This book puts into vivid historical perspective a host of current fears about romance and partnering—and proves in subtle and elegant ways that love and attachment are central to humanity, regardless of how expressed. Enjoy an illuminating read.”—Dr. Helen Fisher, Senior Research Fellow, The Kinsey Institute, New York

• “Fascinating (and engagingly written), often surprising, account of the history over the last 100 years of the way love has been seen in popular culture in the U.S., with a vivid focus on movies, books, magazines, newspaper stories, songs—and for the recent past, internet and social media.”—Arthur Aron, research professor, Stony Brook University