By Jeff Allred

ISBN-10: 0195335686

ISBN-13: 9780195335682

American Modernism and melancholy Documentary surveys the asymmetric terrain of yank modernity throughout the lens of the documentary booklet. Jeff Allred argues that photo-texts of the Thirties level a suite of mediations among rural hinterlands and metropolitan parts, among elite manufacturers of tradition and the "forgotten guy" of Depression-era tradition, among a fable of consensual nationwide solidarity and diverse competing ethnic and neighborhood collectivities. In mild of the complexity this includes, this examine takes factor with a severe culture that has painted the documentary expression" of the Thirties as a simplistic and propagandistic divergence from literary modernism. Allred situates those texts, and the "documentary modernism" they signify, as a primary a part of American modernism and reaction to American modernity, as he seems on the impoverished sharecroppers depcited within the groundbreaking allow us to Now compliment recognized males, the disenfranchised African american citizens in Richard Wright's polemical 12 Million Black Voices, and the experiments in Depression-era images present in lifestyles magazine.

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Dos Passos’s location of the writer within a technological apparatus—as a radio transmitter and/or receiver—reveals the indebtedness of his thinking to transatlantic intellectual currents, most importantly the “constructivist” movement that emerged in Russia in the decade following the 1917 Revolution. Constructivism reacted against the separateness of art from everyday life and insisted that artists should give up easel painting and the production of autotelic experiments with form and embrace a “constructive” orientation toward social utility.

A picture of a tenant shack plastered with magazine advertisements leads to a consideration of the intimate way “concerned” documentary work and “hack work” for Madison Avenue are related in the work of Margaret Bourke-White. James Agee’s ruminations on driving lead to detours through Agee’s journalism at Fortune in the 1930s and recent historiography on rural space and automobiles. The oblique angles of inquiry that often issue from this prismatic methodology provide a model for how one might better integrate the methods of literary criticism, art history, and cultural history within the same frame.

37 Whereas bourgeois art comes from close study of formal structures, of a particular historical tradition, and of genre, all conducted within a stable institutional structure (Professor Baker’s seminar), proletarian art requires only the authentic experience of manual labor and the commonsensical aesthetic instinct that arises from it. Limited as this aesthetics may seem to present-day readers, it had a remarkable appeal for many writers in the 1930s. The Harvard-educated Dos Passos expressed jealousy to Gold at the latter’s working-class background, claiming that “Mike Gold .

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American Modernism and Depression Documentary by Jeff Allred

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