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This Side of Despair: How the Movies and American Life Intersected During the Great Depression

Hanson, Philip

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ISBN 10: 0838641296 / ISBN 13: 9780838641293
Published by Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2008
Condition: Good
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Bibliographic Details

Title: This Side of Despair: How the Movies and ...

Publisher: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press

Publication Date: 2008

Book Condition:Good

About this title


During the Great Depression, economic, political, and social crises converge with a rapidly expanding movie industry to create a product that offers a unique history of the period. The Depression crisis could suddenly revise one's identity. In "The Grapes of Wrath", Tom Joad takes umbrage at brusque treatment from a gas station attendant. He reproves the man with the reminder, 'We ain't burns, you know'. This is a tricky piece of logic. The family is unemployed, has been evicted from their home, and is out on the road. They are pretty close to being burns. But the rapidity and unexpectedness of the transition has left them unprepared and incapable of admitting it.This moment in the film captures a transformation experienced by many others. Depression-era films uncover a collective consciousness and a collective unconsciousness over the effects the Depression was having on the American psyche. The power of the Depression to throw into question traditional institutions and behaviors in direct and indirect ways finds its way into the films of the period. Depression-era movies exist as a particular kind of record of the crisis and its effects on such diverse social elements as gender roles, racial constructions, the rise in the thirties of isolationism, escapist dreams of the period, and anxieties over the nature of capitalism itself. This book studies thirties films as a unique and sometimes camouflaged record of the great crisis. In no other period do films engage with the nation's sheer economic anxiety. Philip Hanson is the co-director of the American Studies Program at the University of San Francisco.

About the Author:

Philip Hanson received his doctoral degree a the University of California, Berkeley. He is the Co-director of the American Studies Program at the University of San Francisco. His essays and short fiction have appeared in twenty periodicals, including Journal of American Studies, Gestos, The Cambridge Quarterly, The Berkeley Fiction Review, and Other Voices. This is his first book.

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