The Cultural Front: The Laboring of American Culture in the Twentieth Century

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Verso, 1998 - History - 556 pages
"The cultural front," James T. Farrell once wrote, was made up of "commercial writers, high-priced Hollywood scenarists, a motley assortment of mystery-plot mechanics, humorists, newspaper columnists, stripteasers, band leaders, glamour girls, actors, press agents, Broadway producers, aging wives with thwarted literary ambitions, and other such ornaments of American culture." The cultural front, that extraordinary upsurge of cultural activity and theory in America, was born in the Great Depression as communists sought to organize cultural workers against Fascism and crisis-ridden capitalism. Spawned by the Popular Front of the Communist Party, the cultural front grew to encompass virtually every aspect of high and popular art in the US during the 1930s and beyond. Thoroughly infused with a radically popular and oppositional mentality, the cultural front informed one of the most culturally exciting and rich periods in American history -- a veritable "Second American Renaissance," in the words of Michael Denning. In The Cultural Front, Denning lifts the lid on a period which cracks open the great debate in contemporary cultural studies of "high" versus "low" culture -- a period in which artists and intellectuals rubbed shoulders with activists and workers, all striving in various ways to create a genuinely democratic popular culture. From Disney animators to proletarian novelists, and encompassing the likes of Orson Welles, Duke Ellington, John Dos Passos, C.L.R James and Billie Holiday, Denning charts a scene which not only fused art and popular protest but also left a deep imprint on American culture and society today.
 

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User Review  - DarthDeverell - LibraryThing

Michael Denning’s The Cultural Front: The Laboring of American Culture in the Twentieth Century synthesizes much of the historiography of the Popular Front into a larger narrative, drawing upon ... Read full review

The cultural front: the laboring of American culture in the twentieth century

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The American Thirties was a period of fertile political coalitions that drew largely from grass-roots labor and Civil Rights activism to give New Deal liberalism its left-wing content and orientation ... Read full review

Contents

I
xiii
II
1
III
3
IV
51
V
53
VI
115
VII
161
VIII
163
X
230
XI
259
XII
283
XIII
323
XIV
362
XV
403
XVI
423
XVII
463

IX
200

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About the author (1998)

Michael Denning teaches American Studies at Yale University. He is the author of Mechanic Accents, Cover Stories, Culture in the Age of Three Worlds, and The Cultural Front.

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