Visions of Belonging: Family Stories, Popular Culture, and Postwar Democracy, 1940-1960

Visions of Belonging: Family Stories, Popular Culture, and Postwar Democracy, 1940-1960

by Judith E. Smith, Gareth E. Jones
     
 

"Visions of Belonging explores how beloved and still-remembered family stories - A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, I Remember Mama, Gentleman's Agreement, Death of a Salesman, Marty, and A Raisin in the Sun - entered the popular imagination and shaped collective dreams in the postwar years and into the 1950s. These stories helped define widely shared conceptions of who… See more details below

Overview

"Visions of Belonging explores how beloved and still-remembered family stories - A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, I Remember Mama, Gentleman's Agreement, Death of a Salesman, Marty, and A Raisin in the Sun - entered the popular imagination and shaped collective dreams in the postwar years and into the 1950s. These stories helped define widely shared conceptions of who counted as representative Americans and who could be recognized as belonging." The book listens in as white and black authors and directors, readers and viewers reveal divergent, emotionally textured, and politically charged social visions. Their diverse perspectives provide a point of entry into an extraordinary time when the possibilities for social transformation seemed boundless. But changes were also fiercely contested, especially as the war's culture of unity receded in the resurgence of cold war anticommunism and demands for racial equality were met with intensifying white resistance. Judith E. Smith traces the cultural trajectory of these family stories as they circulated widely in bestselling paperbacks, hit movies, and popular drama on stage, radio, and television.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231121705
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
08/25/2004
Series:
Popular Cultures, Everyday Lives Series
Pages:
464
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Judith E. Smith is professor of American studies at University of Massachusetts Boston and the author of Family Connections: A History of Italian and Jewish Immigrant Lives in Providence, Rhode Island, 1900-1940.

Columbia University Press

Table of Contents

1Ordinary families, popular culture, and popular democracy, 1935-1945
Radio's formula drama7
Popular theater and popular democracy10
Popular democracy on the radio14
Popular democracy in wartime : multiethnic and multiracial?21
Representing the soldier24
The new world of the home front28
Soldiers as veterans : imagining the postwar world33
2Making the working-class family ordinary : A tree grows in Brooklyn
From working-class daughter to working-class writer44
Revising 1930s radical visions47
Remembering a working-class past49
Instructing the middle class52
The ethnic and racial boundaries of the ordinary54
Making womanhood ordinary59
Hollywood revises A tree grows in Brooklyn62
The declining appeal to Tree's social terrain71
3Home front harmony and remembering Mama
"Mama's bank account" and other ethnic working-class fictions78
Remembering mama on the stage84
The mother next door on film, 1947-194889
Mama on CBS, 1949-195697
The appeal of TV Mama's ordinary family104
4Loving across prewar racial and sexual boundaries
Lillian Smith and Strange fruit111
Quality reinstates the color line117
Strange fruit as failed social drama123
The returning Negro soldier, interracial romance, and Deep are the roots128
Interracial male homosociability in Home of the brave134
5Seeing through Jewishness
Perception and racial boundaries in Focus142
Policing racial and gender boundaries in The brick foxhole145
Recasting the victim in Crossfire150
Deracializing Jewishness in Gentleman's agreement156
6Hollywood makes race (in)visible
"A great step forward" : the film Home of the brave170
Lost boundaries : racial indeterminacy as whiteness174
Pinky : racial indeterminacy as blackness184
Trading places or no way out?198
7Competing postwar representations of universalism
The "truly universal people" : Richard Durham's Destination freedom208
The evolution of Arthur Miller's ordinary family215
Miller's search for "the people," 1947-1948220
The creation of an ordinary American tragedy : Death of a Salesman223
The rising tide of anticommunism233
8Marital realism and everyman love stories
Marital realism before and after the blacklist244
The promise of live television drama255
Paddy Chayefsky's Everyman ethnicity259
Conservative and corporate constraints on representing the ordinary267
Filming television's ordinary : Marty's everyman romance274
9Reracializing the ordinary American family : Raisin in the sun
Lorraine Hansberry's south side childhood284
Leaving home, stepping "deliberately against the beat"290
The Freedom family and the black left293
"I am a writer" : Hansberry in Greenwich Village304
Raisin in the sun : Hansberry's conception, audience reception310
Frozen in the frame : the film of Raisin322
Vision of belonging325

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