Author(s): Morris Dickstein
From Astaire to Steinbeck, this timely and long-awaited history of the 1930s sets the creative energies of the Great Depression against a backdrop of poverty and economic disaster. Gathering a staggering range of materials - from images of rural poverty to zany screwball comedies, wildly popular swing band music and streamlined art deco designs - this eloquent work highlights the pivotal role of culture and government intervention in hard times. Exploding the myth that Depression culture was merely escapist, it concentrates on the dynamic energy and insight the arts could provide and the enormous lift they gave to the American nation's morale. "Dancing in the Dark" shows how America's worst economic crisis, as it eroded individualism and punctured the American dream, produced some of the country's greatest writing, photography and mass entertainment.
Morris Dickstein achieves something so remarkable with Dancing in the Dark that it hovers close to the miraculous: He almost makes you wish you'd been living in America during the 1930s. -- Gene Seymour
Morris Dickstein is the Distinguished Professor of English and Theatre at the City University of New York Graduate Center and the author of Gates of Eden and Leopards in the Temple, among other works.