American Modernism and Depression Documentary

American Modernism and Depression Documentary

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American Modernism and Depression Documentary surveys the uneven terrain of American modernity through the lens of the documentary book. Jeff Allred argues that photo-texts of the 1930s stage a set of mediations between rural hinterlands and metropolitan areas, between elite producers of culture and the "forgotten man" of Depression-era culture, between a myth of consensual national unity and various competing ethnic and regional collectivities. In light of the complexity this entails, this study takes issue with a critical tradition that has painted the "documentary expression" of the 1930s as a simplistic and propagandistic divergence from literary modernism. Allred situates these texts, and the "documentary modernism" they represent, as a central part of American modernism and response to American modernity, as he looks at the impoverished sharecroppers depcited in the groundbreaking Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, the disenfranchised African Americans in Richard Wright's polemical 12 Million Black Voices, and the experiments in Depression-era photography found in Life more

Product details

  • Hardback | 288 pages
  • 162.56 x 236.22 x 30.48mm | 566.99g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 25 black and whitw halftones
  • 0195335686
  • 9780195335682
  • 2,043,716

About Jeff Allred

Jeff Allred is Assistant Professor of English, Hunter College, more

Review quote

American Modernism and Depression Documentary is a stirring investigation of the 'aesthetics of interruption' of 1930s-era documentary books. In sparkling, incisive, and lapidary prose, Jeff Allred luminously navigates the fissure between modernism and documentary forms, eloquently accentuating the tension between the photographic image and the surrounding text in the framework of the politics and culture of the Great Depression. * Alan Wald, University of Michigan * Allred's book offers an impressive new take on the Depression-era documentary that dispenses with the sentimentality and commitment to realism that surrounds much criticism of this genre. More significantly, he offers a way to read documentary not as an interruption of modernist experimentation, but as an integral part of it. * Susan Hegeman, University of Florida * Rather than a critique of a genre, we are presented with a redefinition of form, content, and, most importantly, the daunting import that expressive creativity exercised during a major historical period in the making of America. We are persuaded that what we have critically encoded as 'them' or 'they' turns out to be, definitively, 'we' or 'us.' Old distinctions between the masses and the rest of us are eradicated. Allred's reading of Richard Wright and the 'knot' of race is brilliant. * Houston Baker, Vanderbilt University * Allred's work is well supported by detailed analysis of Depression-era photos and text. Recommended. * Choice *show more

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