Rorotoko: Peter Conn’s ‘American 1930s’


Brainy wonderblog rorotoko.com offered The American 1930s author Peter Conn their front page today, and he happily obliged with his piece Against the Simplification of History.

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The American 1930sMy chief purpose is to examine the ways in which history and imaginative works can illuminate each other. How do the events of a particular time and place shape the novels, stories and visual art of that historical moment? And how in turn can those fictional works help us understand our national past? The Depression years provide an especially promising period for examining such questions. Because of its scale and persistence, the economic trauma affected large numbers of Americans directly; and virtually everyone followed the course of events through coverage in the nation’s newspapers, magazines, radio broadcasts, and movie newsreels. The key point I demonstrate is that Americans responded in a wide variety of ways to this shared crisis. A recent review in the New Yorker characterized the book aptly as offering “a corrective to the assumption that the Depression decade was dominated culturally by leftist aesthetics and politics”

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