American Modernism and Depression Documentary by Jeff Allred

By Jeff Allred

American Modernism and melancholy Documentary surveys the asymmetric terrain of yank modernity throughout the lens of the documentary ebook. Jeff Allred argues that photo-texts of the Thirties degree a collection of mediations among rural hinterlands and metropolitan parts, among elite manufacturers of tradition and the "forgotten guy" of Depression-era tradition, among a fantasy of consensual nationwide cohesion and diverse competing ethnic and nearby collectivities. In gentle of the complexity this involves, this learn takes factor with a serious culture that has painted the documentary expression" of the Nineteen Thirties as a simplistic and propagandistic divergence from literary modernism. Allred situates those texts, and the "documentary modernism" they characterize, as a relevant a part of American modernism and reaction to American modernity, as he appears on the impoverished sharecroppers depcited within the groundbreaking allow us to Now compliment recognized males, the disenfranchised African americans in Richard Wright's polemical 12 Million Black Voices, and the experiments in Depression-era images present in lifestyles magazine.

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64 I discuss the problematic relay by which the photographic capture of the lowliest subjects manifest as something beatific in my discussion of James Agee and Walker Evans in chapter 3; for now, suffice it to say that Let Us Now Praise Famous Men apotheosizes documentary as “witness” for many critics in ways that my book critiques. ” Garner defines the spontaneity of documentary, especially as practiced in the 1930s, against the backdrop of the gradual “disappearance” of work that witnesses to a broad public on social problems and the emergence of approaches—most prominently, formalist modernism and work expressive of individual subjectivity—whose unifying quality is their lack of spontaneity.

This book examines the different ways this “we” was conceived, and the historical pressures upon this conception, by framing close formal engagements with the three aforementioned Depression-era documentary books within explorations of the broader discursive and institutional context in which these books were produced and consumed. Chapter 1 explores one 22 AMERICAN MODERNISM AND DEPRESSION DOCUMENTARY such context: new forms of agency that intellectuals and artists began to imagine and implement for themselves in the interwar era.

33 In this period, Gold and other radicals aligned with the Communist Party helped to build and/or influence institutions that gave proletarian writing a high profile. 34 After an initial period in which the publication was headed by a fairly broad spectrum of Left intellectuals, ranging from liberals like Lewis Mumford and Louis Untermeyer to radicals like Gold and Joseph Freeman, the New Masses ran into financial trouble; at this point, Gold took the helm and successfully reorganized the magazine with an increased emphasis on working-class writers and readers.

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