American Culture in the 1940s

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Edinburgh University Press, 2008 - History - 280 pages
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This series provides accessible but challenging studies of American culture in the twentieth century. Each title covers a specific decade and offers a clear overview of its dominant cultural forms and influential texts, discussing their historical impact and cultural legacy. Collectively the series reframes the notion of 'decade studies' through the prism of cultural production and rethinks the ways in which decades are usually periodised. Broad contextual approaches to the particular decade are combined with textual case studies, focusing on themes of modernity, commerce, freedom, power, resistance, community, race, class, gender, sexuality, internationalism, war, technology and popular culture.This book explores the major cultural forms of 1940s America: fiction and non-fiction, music and radio, film and theatre, and serious and popular visual arts. There is also a chapter on the 'culture of war' throughout the decade, and the intellectual context of 1940s American culture is introduced: both the isolationism advocated by the political right, and the hawkish position adopted by progressives who used their artistic abilities to sway public opinion. Readers are presented with an accessible but challenging exploration of American culture in the 1940s which demonstrates the benefit of observing the decade as a whole, seeking out the unities and comparable features of wartime and the immediate post-war period in the US. The key features include: focused case studies featuring key texts, genres, writers, artists and cultural trends; detailed chronology of 1940s American culture; bibliographies for each chapter; and, 19 black and white illustrations.

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1 Fiction and Journalism
2 Radio and Music
3 Theatre and Film
4 Visual Art Serious and Popular
5 The Arts of Sacrifice and Consumption
The 1940s in the Contemporary American Imagination

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Page 26 - States entering with reasonable confidence upon a policy of firm containment, designed to confront the Russians with unalterable counter-force at every point where they show signs of encroaching upon the interests of a peaceful and stable world.
Page 22 - And in the glare brighter than sunlight produced by the assault on the atom, we have all the light we need with which to examine this new world that has come into being with such clicking abruptness. Thus examined, the old sovereignties are seen for what they are — vestigial obstructions in the circulatory system of the world.
Page 23 - When he had penetrated the bushes, he saw there were about twenty men, and they were all in exactly the same nightmarish state: their faces were wholly burned, their eyesockets were hollow, the fluid from their melted eyes had run down their cheeks. (They must have had their faces upturned when the bomb went off; perhaps they were anti-aircraft personnel...
Page 15 - MY discussions of the concept of race, and of the white and colored worlds, are not to be regarded as digressions from the history of my life; rather my autobiography is a digressive illustration and exemplification of what race has meant in the world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It is for this reason that I have named and tried to make this book an autobiography of race rather than merely a personal reminiscence, with the idea that peculiar racial situation and problems could best...
Page 18 - It is an awful responsibility which has come to us. We thank God that it has come to us, instead of to our enemies; and we pray that He may guide us to use it in His ways and for His purposes.

About the author (2008)

Jacqueline Foertsch is Assistant Professor of English at the University of North Texas

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