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Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression
     

Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression

3.7 7
by Morris Dickstein
 

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ISBN-10: 0393338762

ISBN-13: 9780393338768

Pub. Date: 09/06/2010

Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.

This Vibrant Portrait Of 1930S Culture Masterfully Explores the Anxiety and hope, the despair and surprising optimism of distressed Americans during the Great Depression. Morris Dickstein has brought together a staggering range of material-from epic. Dust Bowl migrations to zany screwball comedies, from elegant dance musicals and wildly popular swing bands to

Overview

This Vibrant Portrait Of 1930S Culture Masterfully Explores the Anxiety and hope, the despair and surprising optimism of distressed Americans during the Great Depression. Morris Dickstein has brought together a staggering range of material-from epic. Dust Bowl migrations to zany screwball comedies, from elegant dance musicals and wildly popular swing bands to streamlined Deco designs. Exploding the myth that Depression culture was merely escapist, Dickstein concentrates on the dynamic energy of the arts and the resulting lift they gave to the nation's morale. Dancing in the Dark is a fresh and exhilarating analysis of one of America's most remarkable artistic periods.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393338768
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
09/06/2010
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
624
Sales rank:
307,161
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)

Table of Contents

Preface xiii

1 Introduction: Depression Culture 3

Part 1 Discovering Poverty

2 The Tenement and the World: Immigrant Lives 15

3 The Starvation Army 50

4 The Country and the City 92

5 Hard Times for Poets 154

6 Black Girls and Native Sons 173

Part 2 Success and Failure

7 Beyond the American Dream 215

8 What Price Hollywood? 311

9 The Last Film of the 1930s; or, Nothing Fails like Success 342

Part 3 The Culture of Elegance

10 Fantasy, Elegance, Mobility: The Dream Life of the 1930s 357

11 Class for the Masses: Elegance Democratized 408

Part 4 The search For Community

12 The Populist Turn: Copland and the Popular Front 441

13 Who Cares?: The World of Porgy and Bess 464

14 The People vs. Frank Capra: Populism against Itself 477

15 Shakespeare in Overalls: An American Troubadour 496

16 Gender Trouble: Exposing the Intellectuals 507

17 Conclusion: The Work of Culture in Depression America 522

Acknowledgments 531

Notes 533

Selected Bibliography 556

Illustrations and Permissions 565

Index 569

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Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Book_Club More than 1 year ago
I thought that Dancing in the Dark was an insightful read. Dickstein's unique goal: to analyze not the economic trends of the Great Depression, but to reveal the cultural elements during the time period, is compelling. In this way, he succeeds. Unfortunately his emphasis on detail weighs the book down, making it cluttered, repetitive, and occasionally unpleasant to read. For me, Dancing in the Dark's strengths lie in Dickstein's approach: he introduces a popular element of American culture in the 1930's and analyzes how it reflected American sentiment at that particular period in history. When he keeps his writing basic and clean and stays with the topic, he succeeds in maintaining the reader's interest. Sadly, this doesn't happen enough: Dickstein is prone to going off-topic, without making an effort to relate anything to the Great Depression. He ends up making points that, while potentially interesting in their own right, don't really have a place in a book about the Great Depression. In these instances, Dancing in the Dark could benefit from a more discriminating editing process. A greater focus on editing would also help another issue with Dancing in the Dark: repetitiveness. At over 550 pages, it's far longer than it needs to be, and the book is filled with unnecessary repeats ("Citizen Kane is a parable about power" and "Citizen Kane is about the human costs of exercising power," for example). Despite these problems, Dancing in the Dark remains an incredibly perceptive work, and I would recommend it to anyone seriously interested in the Great Depression who would be willing to endure a lengthy and repetitive read.
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