Synopses & Reviews
Challenging the conventional wisdom that the 1930s were dominated by literary and photographic realism, Entin uncovers a rich vein of experimental work by politically progressive artists. Examining images by photographers such as Weegee and Aaron Siskind and fiction by writers such as William Carlos Williams, Richard Wright, Tillie Olsen, and Pietro di Donato, he argues that these artists drew attention to the country's most vulnerable residents by using what he calls an "aesthetic of astonishment," focused on startling, graphic images of pain, injury, and prejudice.
brilliantly explores the 'bloody crossroads' where the socialist politics of the 1930s and modernist literary style met.
Paul Lauter, Trinity College
Entin's study will be an important addition to the revisioning of that decade from so many directions in recent years.
Miles Orvell, Temple University
"Remind[s] us how powerful the ideological battles over meaning-making can be, particularly at decisive moments such as the Great Depression."
"This text's subtle exposition of an unacknowledged countertradition in 1930s writing makes it a valuable contribution to the decade's cultural history."
American Historical Review
About the Author
Joseph B. Entin is assistant professor of English at Brooklyn College, City University of New York.
Table of Contents
1. Scrutiny, Sentiment, Sensation: American Modernism and the Bodies of the Dispossessed
2. Sensational Contact: William Carlos Williams's Short Fiction and the Bodies of New Immigrants
3. Modernist Documentary: Aaron Siskind's Harlem Document
4. A Piece of the Body Torn Out by the Roots: James Agee, Tillie Olsen, William Faulkner, and the Contingencies of Working-Class Representation
5. Monstrous Modernism: Laboring Bodies, Wounded Workers, and Narrative Heterogeneity in Pietro di Donato's Christ in Concrete
6. No Man's Land: Richard Wright, Stereotype, and the Racial Politics of Sensational Modernism
Conclusion: Modernism, Poverty, and the Politics of Seeing