The History of American Arts Criticism: A Review

By Michael J. Kramer

There are many histories of cultural and social criticism in the United States, but no study that investigates how writing about the arts developed as a key space in which discussion and debates about the nature of American identity, politics, culture, and society took shape. From writing about the visual and performing arts to the emergence of criticism about popular forms of culture such as film, radio, television, and other forms of media to inquiries into artistic life more broadly, this study contends that arts criticism helped to shape what the United States stood for, both domestically and around the world.