The Arts of Cultural Democracy: America in the 1930s


What does democratic access to the arts look like? Over the past decade the question of distributive justice has taken on new urgency in our nation. This seminar will look at an earlier period in the nation's history-the 1930s, from the stock market crash of 1929 to the beginning of World War II-when the ideal of cultural democracy was put into practice on a variety of fronts, from dance to the fine arts to public murals and the collecting and inventorying of the nation's material and cultural legacies. We will also consider the possibilities and limits of political art, the impact of John Dewey on future generations of artists and culture-makers; the relationship between leftist politics and modernism; regionalism and internationalism; debates over the nature of documentary photography, and efforts to create a 'useable past.' Prerequisite: one 300-level course in European or American twentieth-century art, literature, or cultural history; or permission of the instructor.
Course Attributes: FA AH; EN H; AS HUM; GF AH; FA HUM; AR HUM; AH MEA; AS SC