Visions of Belonging: Family Stories, Popular Culture, and Postwar Democracy, 1940-1960
01 Sep 2004-
TL;DR: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn as mentioned in this paper is a classic story about a working-class family in the early 1930s, and it was adapted for TV by Lillian Smith and Lola Hansberry.
Abstract: Acknowledgments Part 1. Ordinary Families, Popular Culture, and Popular Democracy, 1935-1945 Radio's Formula Drama Popular Theater and Popular Democracy Popular Democracy on the Radio Popular Democracy in Wartime: Multiethnic and Multiracial? Representing the Soldier The New World of the Home Front Soldiers as Veterans: Imagining the Postwar World Looking Back Stories Part 2. Making the Working-Class Family Ordinary: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn From Working-Class Daughter to Working-Class Writer Revising 1930s Radical Visions Remembering a Working-Class Past Instructing the Middle Class The Ethnic and Racial Boundaries of the Ordinary Making Womanhood Ordinary Hollywood Revises A Tree Grows in Brooklyn The Declining Appeal of Tree's Social Terrain Part 3. Home Front Harmony and Remembering Mama "Mama's Bank Account" and Other Ethnic Working-Class Fictions Remembering Mama on the Stage The Mother Next Door on Film, 1947-1948 Mama on CBS, 1949-1956 The Appeal of TV Mama's Ordinary Family "Trading Places" Stories Part 4. Loving Across Prewar Racial and Sexual Boundaries Lillian Smith and Strange Fruit Quality Reinstates the Color Line Strange Fruit as Failed Social Drama The Returning Negro Soldier, Interracial Romance, and Deep Are the Roots Interracial Male Homosociability in Home of the Brave Part 5. "Seeing Through" Jewishness Perception and Racial Boundaries in Focus Policing Racial and Gender Boundaries in The Brick Foxhole Recasting the Victim in Crossfire Deracializing Jewishness in Gentleman's Agreement Part 6. Hollywood Makes Race (In)Visible "A Great Step Forward": The Film Home of the Brave Lost Boundaries: Racial Indeterminacy as Whiteness Pinky: Racial Indeterminacy as Blackness Trading Places or No Way Out? Everyman Stories Part 7. Competing Postwar Representations of Universalism The "Truly Universal People": Richard Durham's Destination Freedom The Evolution of Arthur Miller's Ordinary Family Miller's Search for "the People," 1947-1948 The Creation of an Ordinary American Tragedy: Death of a Salesman The Rising Tide of Anticommunism Part 8. Marital Realism and Everyman Love Stories Marital Realism Before and After the Blacklist The Promise of Live Television Drama Paddy Chayefsky's Everyman Ethnicity Conservative and Corporate Constraints on Representing the Ordinary Filming Television's "Ordinary": Marty's Everyman Romance Part 9. Reracializing the Ordinary American Family: Raisin in the Sun Lorraine Hansberry's South Side Childhood Leaving Home, Stepping "Deliberately Against the Beat" The Freedom Family and the Black Left "I Am a Writer": Hansberry in Greenwich Village Raisin in the Sun: Hansberry's Conception, Audience Reception Frozen in the Frame: The Film of Raisin Visions of Belonging Notes Index
TL;DR: This article explored how Robeson's persona and sound as folksinger and his political identity and struggles as a radical black intellectual interacted and collided with the cultural-racial politics of "people's music" and with Popular Front discourses on the folk.
Abstract: This essay takes Paul Robeson's 1939 performances of Earl Robinson and John Latouche's popular cantata Ballad for Americans as a focal point to explore how Robeson's persona and sound as folksinger—a “people's artist”—and his political identity and struggles as a radical black intellectual interacted and collided with the cultural-racial politics of “people's music” and with Popular Front discourses on the folk. From its legendary CBS radio premiere in November 1939 throughout the war years, Robeson's voice critically mediated—and most powerfully articulated—not only the work's narrative of nation but also the diverse formal and stylistic sonic frames through which this narrative was sounded. The ideological conflict in Ballad for Americans between accommodation and protest, national affirmation and critique, the realities of racial and ethnic divides and the promise of national inclusiveness indexed troubling contradictions of race and nation. Yet the internationalist contexts of Robeson's work as a singer-activist during this period, in particular the performative black internationalism embodied in his concert programs, suggest other perspectives and interpretive frameworks for rehearing Ballad for Americans.
TL;DR: The middle class in the United States is one of the most determinant forces in American life as discussed by the authors, and it has increasingly been so since the end of the Second world war, when a mix of economic prosperity and consumer culture helped spin a fantasy of social equality.
Abstract: Class in the United States may be one of the hardest things to determine, and yet one of the most determinant forces. while this has not always been the case, it has increasingly been so since the end of the Second world war, when a mix of economic prosperity and consumer culture helped spin a fantasy of social equality.1 The belief in an expanding middle class served as confirmation of fading class lines, but the postwar obsession with talking about the middle class also evidenced that class still mattered in american life. The trouble was how to define class, especially the middle class. The knowledge that class shaped american life, and yet that few americans could articulate how, bred a particular kind of anxiety. in 1955, for example, allen Ginsberg excoriated middle-class culture in his poem “Howl,” and that same year Sloan wilson depicted suburban middle-class life as desperately meaningless in his novel The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit.2 novelists and poets were not alone in searching for a language of middle-classness. in that same era, a group of social critics popularized a new vocabulary about and in many ways for the middle class. in their new terminology, middle class served as shorthand for the typical and normal in american life. it also came to define much of what was wrong in america. The writings of these social critics reflected a wider cultural ambivalence about the power a newly defined mass public—the postwar middle class—might wield. By diagnosing the problems of the middle class, these critics sought to control and contain its potential power. american Jews shared a deep ambivalence about middle-class power that paralleled broader american trends but also was connected to longstanding anxiety about the consequences of Jews assuming power in the
TL;DR: This essay sketches the rise of a Popular Front-inflected vision of the U.S. city neighborhood's meaning and worth, and explores the conflicted mode of liberal nationalism that took the polyglot city neighborhood as emblem, which emerged more fully as the provisional wartime consensus dissolved.
Abstract: This essay sketches the rise of a Popular Front-inflected vision of the U.S. city neighborhood's meaning and worth, a communitarian ideal that reached its zenith during World War II before receding in the face of cold-war anxieties, postwar suburbanization, and trepidation over creeping blight. During the war years, numerous progressives interpreted the ethnic-accented urban neighborhood as place where national values became most concrete, casting it as a uniquely American rebuff to the fascist drive for purity. Elaborations appeared in the popular press's celebratory cadences, in writings by educators and social scientists such as Rachel DuBois and Louis Wirth, and in novels, plays, and musicals by Sholem Asch, Louis Hazam, Kurt Weill, Langston Hughes, and others. Each offered new ways for making sense of urban space, yet their works reveal contradictions and uncertainties, particularly in an inability to meld competing impulses toward assimilation and particularism. Building on the volume's theme "The Arts in Place," this essay examines these texts as a collective form of imaginative "placemaking." It explores the conflicted mode of liberal nationalism that took the polyglot city neighborhood as emblem. And it outlines the fissures embedded in that vision, which emerged more fully as the provisional wartime consensus dissolved.
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors explore the influence of the Communist Party U.S.A. as a positive force in black theatre history and present specific ways in which Lorraine Hansberry's 1959 play is indebted to Communist political critiques.
Abstract: “Watching A Raisin in the Sun and Seeing Red” argues that, while anti-Communism has often been discussed by historiographers of African American theatre, Communism itself and the influence of the Communist Party U.S.A. as a positive force in black theatre history have largely been ignored. As a way of exploring the Communist influence on black theatre, the article describes specific ways in which Lorraine Hansberry’s 1959 play is indebted to Communist political critiques. Following the FBI’s own surveillance of the play before it came to Broadway, “Watching A Raisin in the Sun and Seeing Red” also uses the FBI’s own internal memos about the play’s Communist content to reassess the play’s political critique of American individualism, racism, sexism, and capitalism.
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