Faculty Book: Morris Dickstein
Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression
(W. W. Norton, 2009)
In this timely and long-awaited cultural history of the 1930s, Morris Dickstein, whom Norman Mailer called “one of our best and most distinguished critics of American literature,” explores the anxiety and hope, the despair and surprising optimism of distressed Americans at a time of dire economic dislocation. Bringing together a staggering range of materials—from epic Dust Bowl migrations and sharecropper photographs to zany screwball comedies, wildly popular swing bands, and streamlined Deco designs—this eloquent work highlights the pivotal role of culture and government intervention in hard times. Exploding the myth that Depression culture was merely escapist, Dancing in the Dark shows how our worst economic crisis, as it eroded American individualism and punctured the American dream, produced some of America’s greatest writing, photography, and mass entertainment. Morris Dickstein is distinguished professor of English, theatre, and liberal studies at the Graduate Center.
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Submitted on: OCT 15, 2009