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Well Met: Renaissance Faires and the American Counterculture Hardcover – November 19, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 359 pages
  • Publisher: NYU Press (November 19, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814771386
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814771389
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,073,190 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Fascinating [and] forthcoming."-San Francisco Bay Guardian,

"A must read for anyone interested in a nonstereotypical view of the faire, its adherents, and why it retains its appeal decades after its inception."-Library Journal,

“Anti-modernism remains one of modernity's most significant and lasting inventions, and in Rachel Rubin's Well Met the theme finally gets its due. In the odd but telling subculture of the Renaissance Faire, Rubin finds anti-modernism intertwined with some of the most important strands of twentieth-century American culture—waning traces of vaudeville, the rise of the counterculture, shifting gender arrangements and sexual practices, a hunger for usable pasts, a rising politics of theatricality, and the culture's impressive penchant for commercialized anti-commercialism.  Rubin writes with deep insight and terrific humor; and as intelligent as the book is, it also embodies a joyful appreciation for the quirky inventiveness of its protagonists. I can't wait for the movie!”-Matthew Frye Jacobson,Yale University

“In its first decade, the Renaissance Faire unleashed a multi-colored sub-culture in direct revolt against the monochrome of postwar America. It was a home-grown explosion of fancy dress, Shakespearian improv, hand-made objects both useful and ornamental, and music ancient and obscure, much of it heard for the first time in the dusty lanes of the Faire. Rachel Rubin deftly reveals the impact the Faire has had on style, craft, performance, and pop culture over the past fifty years in a one-of-a-kind study that begins in the left-wing lanes of Laurel Canyon, continues through backstage conflicts and couplings, and concludes with the corporatized, commercialized Festivals and geeky Ren-fandom of today. Well Met is a must-read to revel in the true roots of ‘Sixties’ culture. I know. I was there.”-David Ossman,member of the Firesign Theatre

"Rubin's book is a trailblazer."-Colorado Springs Independent,

About the Author

Rachel Lee Rubin is Professor of American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She is author of Immigration and American Popular Culture (with Jeffrey Melnick, NYU Press) and Jewish Gangsters of Modern Literature, and co-editor of American Popular Music: New Approaches to the Twentieth Century and Radicalism in the South since Reconstruction.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Reading the book takes me back.
john
Good history of the origins and some cultural results from the California Renaissance Faire.
Mark Demry
This is a very nice piece of scholarship by Ms. Rubin.
Freddy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Douglas S. Kondziolka on January 27, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the stories of the Renaissance Festival subculture that the book had to offer. As a member of an act which has been performing at Festivals for over 30 years I found most of the information to be accurate and I enjoyed the mini-interviews with various participants. It obviously originates from an "academic" POV and maintains much of this flavor in the book. I do wish it had been written better; at times the writing is difficult to follow....
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Freddy on December 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very nice piece of scholarship by Ms. Rubin. Each page is dense with Faire history, context and socio-political analysis of the milieu from which the Faire has evolved. The people and theatrical productions and techniques that have shaped the Faire are discussed and explained with a thoroughness that will help those who enjoy the Faire to understand why the Faire has become important to them. There is also an interesting chapter on those folks who dislike the Faire and an examination of why this is the case. This book, at times, is a somewhat intellectual analysis, but none-the-less somehow manages to not get dull. I found it to be a very enjoyable read that moved along at a brisk pace.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By d. hostetler on August 4, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As an artist/shopkeeper at the MN Renaissance Festival I've been a Fest participant for almost 30 years. Over the course of that time I've noticed that people everywhere seem to be of two minds about it: they either love Fest and absolutely everything about it, or they hate it completely (even if they've never set foot there....). I loved it from the moment I visited for the first time in the 70s, and becoming a part of it a decade later felt like Coming Home to my Clan. But many of my family members, co-workers, neighbors, friends, etc. had (and still have) no idea what to make of it, and so to avoid their negative opinions I've learned to keep Fest close to my heart unless asked about it. I've often wondered over the years if the judgmental reactions I've gotten haven't made me feel a bit ashamed.... Finding this book has turned everything around for me. Half a chapter into it and I was already urging my guy to purchase a copy so we could read it together. It's taught us both something new and given us TONS to talk about. Thank you, Rachel Lee Rubin. Your book has renewed my pride in being a part of such a fascinating (and often misunderstood) subculture.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By john on May 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was very much involved with this original Renaissance Faire. The Faire, and so many people mentioned in this book who made it happen, brought a lot of magic to my life that I will never forget. Reading the book takes me back. A real joy to read.

John Reed
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Adlai Climan on May 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A great history of the Faire as the seeds were planted, grew, blossomed, matured. For those who have ever worked a faire, a must-read. For those who ever visited a faire, particularly in California, tis will tell you how it all started and show you the "man behind the curtain" as they say in Oz. Lots of quotes from people I know, but if these are just names on paper, they won't have as much meaing for the casual reader. Could use LOTS more photos.
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By S. Cranow on June 10, 2014
Format: Paperback
Once could say that the whole concept of the Renaissance Faire, which has become so popular, started out as a dream Ron and Phyllis Patterson. Phyllis had been involved in education and the arts back east working with Middle School and adolescent kids. When they moved out here to California they moved to the Laurel Canyon area. The concept started out as kids getting dressed up in costume and performing. They would go about on a wagon loaned from one of the many entertainment figures living there. She worked at children’s center in the area. From there the idea sort of took off.

The first faire which happened in Southern California was done in connection with KPFK and Pacifica Radio. The first faire was a fund raiser. Now back in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s the entertainment figures and residents of Laurel Canyon were involved with liberal causes and were often under scrutiny from the conservative establishment. KPFK was a liberal radio station oft times being accused of being communist. The first faire was a resounding success. The faire also attracted hippies and would be an influence on society at large.

The second faire was held in Ventura County. The first weekend went off well but the establishment was doing it’s best to thwart it. First the sheriff’s office was requiring al the vendors to get fingerprinted. Then the Ventura county zoing board managed to get the faire banned on the second weekend. This caused the vendors to lose lots of money.

After that the faire got it’s own place in Agoura Hills. The cultural watershed was both an influence and influenced by the pervading hippie culture. The fare helped inaugurate an interest in hand crafted goods as opposed to the mass produced plastic goods. Glasss blowers off made a show of what they did.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By allen olson on February 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
very well researched and written with surprising facts that impressed me more about the origins of the faires and their impact
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By Sam on October 2, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This was rather interesting, a few details with more recent events did not seem to mesh or meld with our own experiences and that of our friends, but the main focus was on the "counterculture" portions, so it was educational.

I was somewhat involved with SCA, as were many of our friends that we go to Renaissance Faires with, and that is a totally different "world-view" from the author's.

A good read for some history behind them, and why some people are so involved with them today.
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