Topics in the News
Art in the 1930s
The Great Debate.
Although the now legendary Armory show had brought modern art to America in 1913, as the 1930s opened, the merits of modernism versus traditional figure painting were still being fervently debated. The social activism and mass political movements of the 1930s demanded a public and useful art. The modern movements—Dadaism, Cubism, Fauvism, and Surrealism—seemed private and effete. As the Depression took hold in America and war brewed in Europe, Americans drew inward, concerned with domestic problems and injustice. This isolationism led not simply to art in search of an American idiom, but anti-European sentiment espoused by the American Regionalists. Thomas Hart Benton, once a student in Paris, led the charge to rid America of what he called the "dirt" of European influence. On the other side of the debate were a small number of young American artists, mostly living in New York City, who embraced the aesthetic pursuit of painting instead of social relevance. They were a triply blessed group: they had financial support in the form of the Works Progress Administration (WPA)/Federal Art Project (FAP), which brought the painters into a community and allowed them the freedom to work; they had many of the masters of European modernism coming to New York from an increasingly distressing situation in Europe, bringing their ideas and skill with them; and they were talented....
(The entire section is 2258 words.)
The 1930s were a period during which America shook off European influences in order to develop its own ballet and its own modern dance, both with distinctly American themes. While Martha Graham experimented with mystical imagery, Helen Tamiris created dances based on Walt Whitman's poetry, and across the nation jitterbugs created an interracial swing subculture whose frenetic signature dance alarmed moralists.
Duncan and St. Denis.
Until Ruth St. Denis and her husband, Ted Shawn, formed their Denishawn dance company in 1915 in Los Angeles, Americans had to rely on European touring companies for their dance. In fact, both St. Denis and Isadora Duncan got their starts in theatrical productions and danced extensively in Europe before coming back to the United States. Duncan's influence sprang in large part from her image, which was one of unfettered sexuality. She derived her plots from classical sources, but she appeared on stage barefoot and in loose clothing. St. Denis and Shawn, along with Duncan, appealed to those progressives who wished to break loose from the shackles...
(The entire section is 1457 words.)
The Federal Theatre Project
A National Theater.
In 1935 Works Progress Administration director Harry Hopkins tapped respected Vassar College drama director Hallie Flanagan to head the Federal Theatre Project (FTP), whose purpose would not only be to provide employment to thousands of unemployed actors, directors, set designers, and costume designers, but also to create a theater that would be affordable and accessible to all. Each state was to have its own FTP chapter, from which it would develop productions suitable for that state. Between its founding in 1935 and its loss of funding in 1939 at the hands of the House Un-American Activities Committee, the FTP produced farces; marionette shows; children's plays; modern dramas such as T. S. Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral and Sinclair Lewis and John C. Moffitt's It Can't Happen Here (which opened simultaneously in seventeen cities, including Yiddish-and Spanish-language productions); productions of William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe; theater by and for the blind; radio plays; pageants; and dramas in a range of languages, including Yiddish, Spanish, Italian, German, and French. Audiences for FTP productions ultimately numbered twenty-five million.
Although Federal Theatre Project productions tended to be both popular and well reviewed, they were not without their detractors. The...
(The entire section is 852 words.)
Fiction of the 1930s: Modernism for the Masses
A Time of Transition.
The 1930s were a time of great ferment in American letters. In a period of social crisis American writers, including Theodore Dreiser and Erskine Caldwell, debated how best to create social change through literature, and critics such as Edmund Wilson and Philip Rahv argued about where on the political Left they should position themselves. Literary journalists, including Martha Gellhorn and Josephine Herbst, documented the suffering of the American people. Not all writers, of course, produced what became known as proletarian fiction. Tough-guy writers provided a nihilistic view of a country gone awry, while modernists provided intimate portraits of the American self.
(The entire section is 2556 words.)
The Funny Pages and Beyond
The 1930s ushered in a significant development in comic art: the rise of the adventure strip. From the family strips of the 1920s, which focused on kids and domestic experience, comic strips moved toward the lurid and the action-packed.
"Me Tarzan, you Jane" may have been Tarzan's most lasting contribution to the American vernacular, but it was only one of many. The shaggy, inarticulate hero of Edgar Rice Burroughs's 1914 adventure novel Tarzan of the Apes was an orphaned English lord who, following the death of his parents, was raised by the sheape Kala in the jungles of Africa. Harold Foster's strip, launched as a daily in 1929, was instantly successful: its focus on danger within an exotic locale, its Darwinian leitmotivs, and its thematic preoccupation with eugenics so appealed to readers that by 1931 the strip began appearing in Sunday color supplements. Moreover, by the end of the 1930s Burroughs had produced twenty-one popular Tarzan novels. In addition, Tarzan was the hero of a daily fifteen-minute radio serial and of sixteen movies, many of them starring former Olympic star Johnny Weismuller.
Like Tarzan, Prince Valiant was an adventure hero whose life was far removed from the grim realities of Depression America. And like the...
(The entire section is 1644 words.)
Hollywood in the 1930s.
Movie critics are nearly unanimous in declaring the Depression era to be the most important in the history of film. Technical advances, the seemingly limitless amount of available money, and a pool of talent fed by writers and actors from New York, as well as directors and technicians from overseas, all contributed to make the 1930s the golden era in Hollywood cinema. In 1932 the improvement of three-color Technicolor from the two-color process invented in 1926 enabled studios to create "A pictures" that looked markedly different from the B movies churned out in quantity and helped to stratify the production system, though black-and-white movies were still common throughout the 1930s. Many of the decade's most talented writers, including such noted fiction writers as William Faulkner, Samuel Ornitz, Dalton Trumbo, Dorothy
Image Pop-UpJames Cagney in Public Enemy, 1931.
(The entire section is 1711 words.)
Music in the 1930s
American music flourished and expanded during the 1930s, driven by a search for authentic American voices and rhythms. From sophisticated symphonic composers, urban recording executives, rural radio-station operators, and the Smithsonian Institution to the Library of Congress, the general trend among music lovers and producers was to seek out voices of the American people and to adapt their songs or record them directly in an effort to capture what was a disappearing authenticity. Radio had arrived full force in the 1920s, and already the folk of rural America were being introduced to a variety of musical styles that they adapted into their traditional sound. But academic and sociological interests were not the only reason for the search for American music. Commercial interests also drove the search. When the 1930s opened, as many as a third of the poorest rural southerners already owned phonographs. The rural blues had already gained popularity on record and was influencing music nationwide. A huge potential market of record buyers and radio listeners existed in regions far from New York and Chicago, the centers of the music publishing and production industries. So while George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, and an entire generation of European-trained composers looked to adapt traditional rural voices into their operas and symphonies, another group, led by Alan and John Lomax, Ralph...
(The entire section is 5123 words.)
1939: Hollywood's Golden Year
Although the 1930s were generally a very strong decade for the American film industry, 1939 was an extraordinary year, even by Depression standards. This was a year in which two of the American Film Institute's ten most popular films of all time were released—Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz, both directed by Victor Fleming—and in which the country was treated to William Wyler's memorable adaptation of Wuthering Heights, to Greta Garbo's first comic role (in Ernst Lubitsch's humorous treatment of Soviets in Paris, Ninotchka), and to Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland's sentimental showbiz comedy Babes in Arms.
Americana, Hollywood Style.
As Europe teetered on the brink of war, Hollywood regaled American audiences in 1939 with increasingly idealized visions of American life, including director John Ford's account of early pioneer life, Drums Along the Mohawk, his Abraham Lincoln biography, Young Mr. Lincoln, and his epic Western (Ford's first since 1926),...
(The entire section is 772 words.)
Public Works of Art Project Murals
The Federal Art Project.
Like its counterparts, the Federal Theatre, Writers, Dance, and Music Projects, the Federal Art Project (FAP) was a part of the Works Progress Administration. Preceded by the Public Works of Art Project in 1933 and 1934, founded in 1935, drastically reduced in 1939, and eliminated entirely in 1943, the FAP was responsible for more than 2,500 murals, 11,000 designs, 108,000 easels, and 17,000 sculptures. Perhaps the most famous of all of these endeavors, however, were the commissioned murals of the FAP,
Public Works of Art Project.
In 1933 artist George Biddle, known as the father of federal arts projects, wrote a letter to his old classmate Franklin Delano Roosevelt, suggesting a series of publicly commissioned murals by young American artists—murals that would express American ideals and the social vision of the New Deal. The result, after the usual political battles had been fought and won, was the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP), which, with its successor, the Federal Art Project, was to be responsible for more than twenty-five hundred murals in schools, post offices, federal buildings, and other public spaces throughout the nation. These murals were painted by a range of distinguished and soon-to-be-distinguished artists, including Thomas Hart Benton, Grant Wood, Willem de Kooning, Reginald Marsh,...
(The entire section is 541 words.)
Theater of the 1930s
As in the other arts, stylistic innovation, a focus on social issues, and a concern with American themes became hallmarks of Depression drama. Most notable, in some ways, was the degree of interaction between seemingly disparate groups. Radical workers' theaters like the Workers Laboratory Theatre, many of them founded by German refugees from fascism, flourished; the experimental Group Theatre had its splashiest success with a play written to benefit workers' theater, while producing other plays on Broadway; Broadway plays themselves tackled social issues such as the problems faced by tenant farmers—albeit in a typically cheerful manner. Although the first three years of the Depression saw no long-running hits, subsequent years were marked by both Broadway smashes and creative ferment in the smaller theaters.
The Group Theatre.
Founded by Harold Clurman, Cheryl Crawford, and Lee Strasberg in 1931, the Group Theatre was an outgrowth of the American Laboratory Theatre of the 1920s, which had based much of its approach on that of the Moscow Art Theatre. The twenty-eight group members lived together as well as worked together. For the ten years of its existence, the group had an outsized influence on American theater, primarily for its promulgation, through Strasberg, of Stanislavskian acting technique, an approach based...
(The entire section is 845 words.)
Three Literary Suicides
Vachel Lindsay was fifty-two years old in 1931 when depression overtook him. He had been a practicing populist poet for some thirty years. He published his own work, distributed it freely, and delighted in reading his works publicly. Yet after he married in 1925 and had two children, the schedule of readings he had to maintain to support his family weakened his health and threatened his already fragile mental state. Late in November 1931 Lindsay traveled from his home in Springfield, Illinois, on a lecture tour that included stops in Cleveland and Washington. Neither session went well. He offended his audience, and people walked out. Lindsay complained to his friend Sara Teasdale that audiences only wanted to hear his old poems and did not care for his new work. When he returned to Springfield, he was tired, embarrassed, and sick. He brought seventy-six dollars home from his tour and faced four thousand dollars in debts. Upon his return he began to exhibit manic-depressive behavior so erratic that his wife was advised by a doctor to leave her husband for her own safety. On the evening of 5 December he tarried downstairs at bedtime, and his wife retired alone. Soon afterward, she heard a crash and rushed downstairs to investigate. She encountered her husband, frantic, asking for water. "I took Lysol," he told her. He died soon thereafter. "They tried to get me; I got them...
(The entire section is 818 words.)
Benton, Thomas Hart 1889-1975
A Vision of America.
The decade's best-known practitioner of Regionalist painting, Thomas Hart Benton's work was aimed, he said, at an audience which "was never subjected to the aesthetic virus." Benton, born in Neosho, Missouri, was the son of a populist congressman, Maecenas E. Benton. On the campaign trail with his father he grew comfortable in Washington salons as well as revival meetings. From a youthful career as a reporter and illustrator for a paper in Joplin, Missouri, he attended the Chicago Art Institute. He moved on to art school in Paris (1908-1911), where he found himself unimpressed by the contemporary artists he met—Diego Rivera, George Grosz, Wyndham Lewis. Between 1918 and 1924 Benton abandoned modernism in favor of what he termed Americanism—a depiction of what he saw as the American character: hardworking, nonintellectual people who sometimes fell prey to circumstance. However, his satiric paintings of American life continued to be influenced by the strong forms and sometimes...
(The entire section is 843 words.)
Crawford, Joan 1904-1977
An Adaptable Star.
One of the leading ladies of Depression Hollywood, Crawford was known for her ability to play just about any role, inhabiting romantic comedies (W. S. Van Dyke's Forsaking All Others ; Edward H. Griffith and George Cukor's No More Ladies ), gangster films (Harry Beaumont's Dance Fools Dance ), historical dramas (Clarence Brown's The Gorgeous Hussy ), farces (Van Dyke's Love on the Run ), vicious social comedies (Cukor's hit The Women), Depression melodramas (Brown's Possessed ; Howard Hawks's Today We Live ), romantic dramas (Beaumont's Laughing Sinners ; Brown's Chained ), and even ice-skating pictures (Ice Follies of 1939, directed by Reinhold Schunzel). She costarred with Greta Garbo and John Barrymore in Edmund Goulding's 1932 Grand Hotel, played opposite Norma Shearer and Rosalind Russell in The Women, and had on-screen romances with Clark Gable and with Franchot Tone, to whom she was also married. In short Joan Crawford was the consummate professional, an all-purpose...
(The entire section is 834 words.)
Faulkner, William 1897-1962
The New Regionalism.
William Faulkner, considered by many to be the greatest modern American writer, mined the nineteenth-century history of the imaginary Yoknapatawpha County in his native Mississippi to create a literature that was a fusion of the American tradition of regionalism and modernism. Focusing on a few families to whom he returned in story after story, novel after novel, Faulkner examined the social structure in the Deep South. However, his fiction was anything but the local color of the earlier Regionalists. Rather, Faulkner used the modernist techniques of Eliot and Joyce to create a literature that was dazzlingly complex in form and often violent and tragic in content.
William Falkner, as he was born, was raised in the university town of Oxford, Mississippi, where he grew up as a dreamy, introverted child. After dropping out of high school halfway through his last year, he spent years drifting from a job bookkeeping in his grandfather's bank to joining the Canadian Royal Air Force, where he added the u to his name and where,...
(The entire section is 1039 words.)
Fitzgerald, Ella 1920-
Ella Fitzgerald was not quite fifteen years old when she made her professional singing debut at a Yale University party in March 1935. She had been discovered the previous year at the Harlem Opera House, where she won an amateur talent contest for singing a Connie Boswell song. Heartened by the success, Fitzgerald entered more contests, eventually winning a week's performance with Tony Bradshaw's band in February 1935. Bardu Ali, then an announcer with Chick Webb's band, heard her singing for Bradshaw and later brought her to Webb for an impromptu audition, which led to her being hired for the Yale gig a month later. She had made a large leap quickly. Born in Norfolk, Virginia, and raised in Yonkers, New York, by her mother, Ella Fitzgerald made an immediate impact on jazz singing in her time, redefined the role of the jazz singer, and eventually broadened the scope of her music beyond jazz to popular singing.
Shortly after Ella's professional debut, her mother was killed in an automobile accident. New York labor laws prevented the...
(The entire section is 1087 words.)
Goodman, Benny 1909-1986
What Was Swing?
Dubbed "The King of Swing," Goodman introduced a jazz style that relied on written arrangements performed by big bands. Swing, a simpler and less improvisational form of jazz than that of the 1920s, one based on the structure of popular songs, was functional dance music. Swing enabled the individual voice to contribute to the collective whole: as historian David W. Stowe notes, swing was another expression of trends that prevailed in American culture throughout the Depression: "both the regionalist paintings of Thomas Hart Benton and swing embodied the ideals of progressive reform and a populist producerist ideology through symbols that embodied the uniquely American values of energy and democracy." The Duke Ellington hit "It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing" appeared in 1932: the nation was well on its way to being swing crazy. It was Benny Goodman's 1935 recording triumph, "The Music Goes 'Round and 'Round," that propelled the craze. Although Goodman had had a lukewarm response from audiences when he started his band in 1934, his 1935 radio broadcasts from the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles brought him his first real success—and sparked audience interest in his soon-to-be-hit song. Over one hundred thousand copies of sheet music for "The Music Goes 'Round and 'Round" were sold; the song was the most popular on the air; a...
(The entire section is 922 words.)
Guthrie, Woody 1912-1967
The Voice of the Forgotten American.
Described by folksinger Pete Seeger as "a national folk poet," Woody Guthrie crisscrossed America throughout the Depression years—walking, hitchhiking, and riding the rails along with the hoboes and migrant laborers during the 1930s. Between 1936 and 1954, when he was hospitalized for Huntington's chorea, of which he would die, he wrote more than one thousand songs chronicling the experience of the common American. Among his best-known songs are "Roll On, Columbia," "This Train Is Bound For Glory," "Hard Traveling," "Union Maid," and "Dust Bowl Refugee."
Like so many of the westward migrants during the Depression, Guthrie was an "Okie"—an Oklahoman who found himself forced out of the life he knew by the coming of the Dust Bowl. The soil erosion and resulting dust storms that drove so many Okla'homans from their farms were, however, not the first tragedy to scar Guthrie. When she was fourteen, his sister burned to death; the depressions that plagued his mother—diagnosed, in retrospect, as Huntington's chorea—eventuated in her death in a mental institution when Guthrie was a teenager. His father, unable to compete with the sharp operators who followed the oil boom into the state, experienced a series of devastating business declines. By 1936 his...
(The entire section is 827 words.)
Lange, Dorothea 1895-1965
Born in Hoboken, New Jersey, as Dorothea Margeretta Nutzhorn, Lange early took her mother's maiden name. Disabled by the childhood polio that left her with a lifelong limp, Lange discovered her photographic vocation as she was finishing high school. She apprenticed herself to a series of Manhattan portrait photographers before moving to San Francisco in 1918 to embark on a career doing romantic photographic portraits. During the 1920s she made several long trips with her first husband, painter Maynard Dixon, to the Southwest to photograph.
A Change Wrought by Hardship.
Dorothea Lange describes her transformative moment as occurring in 1932 when, from the studio where she sustained her portraiture business, she gazed out into the alley below and witnessed daily scenes of misery and poverty. "The discrepancy between what I was working on in my printing frames and what was going on in the street was more than I could assimilate. I knew that if my interest in people was valid, I would not only be doing what was going on in those printing frames," she wrote. Her first photograph in the...
(The entire section is 693 words.)
Mckenney, Ruth 1911-1972
Ruth McKenney is one of the best examples of the ways in which 1930s writers combined radical politics, an appreciation of their audience's need for entertainment, and a desire to document the harsh realities of Depression life. Moving between writing scripts for radio, stage, and screen; light short stories in The New Yorker; essays for the Communist weekly New Masses; and journalism for the World-Telegram in New York, McKenney seems to embody a certain cultural ethos of the period.
Ruth McKenney is best known today as the author of My Sister Eileen, the best-selling account of her family life during her childhood. This 1938 autobiography was a collection of McKenney's New Yorker pieces; a second collection appeared two years later under the title The McKenneys Carry On. Both volumes were critically acclaimed: My Sister Eileen went through more than a dozen printings and became first a Broadway play then a 1942 Hollywood film directed by Alexander Hall and starring Rosalind Russell and Brian Aherne. In 1955 Richard Quine directed a musical version with Betty Garrett, Janet Leigh, and Jack Lemmon; the Broadway version was titled Wonderful Town. The book's chapter headings give a fair idea of its general flavor:...
(The entire section is 753 words.)
Sandburg, Carl 1878-1967
Born on a corn-husk mattress in a three-room shack and raised in the prairie town of Galeburg, Illinois, Carl Sandberg, who early changed his name to the more American-sounding Charles Sandburg, was the restless son of semiliterate Swedish immigrants. Sandburg's name change was an early, visible sign of his desire to establish an American identity for himself and to explore the nature of Americanness: in fact, these lifelong preoccupations prepared him to become one of the foremost poetic voices of the 1930s, the decade with which he is most closely associated. Sandburg was only eighteen when wanderlust propelled him out of his rural town and toward Chicago in 1896 and then across the country as part of the stream of hoboes and tramps whose continent-wide odyssey in search of employment prefìgured that of the railroad-hopping hoboes of the Depression. Sandburg's quest left him with the indelible images...
(The entire section is 884 words.)
West, Mae 1892-1980
More than any other mainstream entertainer, Mae West—with her blonde hair, heavy-lidded eyes, and voluptuous figure—epitomized the liberating force of sexuality—a sexuality that managed to express itself despite the heavy hand of Production Code censors. However, though West is remembered as the heaw-breathing mistress of the double entendre, she is not always recognized for the artistic control she maintained over a career that began when she was five or for acting in stock theater.
By the time she was fifteen West was already starting to rewrite the vaudeville and Broadway revue material in which she appeared. A few years spent in burlesque, where she was billed as "The Baby Vamp," no doubt gave her material for her first play, Sex, which she wrote, produced, and directed on Broadway in 1926. The ten-day jail sentence she received for her conviction on obscenity charges did little to dampen her writing fervor. The very next year she wrote and directed a drama about homosexuals titled Drag, which became a hit in Paterson, New Jersey. Heeding warnings, West chose to keep it off the Broadway stage. Here, as later, she managed to address risqué topics in a manner almost, but never quite, obscene. By this time West was piquing the interest of Hollywood...
(The entire section is 711 words.)
People in the News
In November-December 1938 poet Stephen Vincent Benét, novelist Willa Cather, novelist-playwright Thornton Wilder, and novelist Ellen Glasgow were elected to fill vacancies in the fifty-member American Academy of Arts and Letters.
In January 1930 novelist Louis Bromfield went to Hollywood to write screenplay for the new sound motion pictures, telling reporters: "There is intelligence and talent gathering in Hollywood as it never gathered there before.… I am fed up with Europe. It gives me a stomach-ache."
In December 1938 the Limited Editions Club presented a gold medal to literary critic Van Wyck Brooks, proclaiming his 1937 Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Flowering of New England "the most likely to become a classic" of all the books published in the last three years.
In March 1937 director George Cukor said the actress he selected to play Scarlett O'Hara in the movie version of Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind "must be possessed of the devil and charged with electricity. What I want is a really young and attractive girl, but she must be stupid, cruel and ruthless."
In December 1938 professor-musician-novelist John Erskine gave a lecture on "The Rise of Jazz and Swing" before an audience of one thousand at Town Hall in Manhattan. Also on the program...
(The entire section is 1326 words.)
ACADEMY OF MOTION PICTURE ARTS AND SCIENCES AWARDS (THE OSCARS)
Production: All Quiet on the Western Front (Universal)
Actor: George Arliss in Disraeli
Actress: Norma Shearer in The Divorcee
Direction: Lewis Milestone for All Quiet on the Western Front
Production: Cimarron (RKO)
Actor: Lionel Barrymore in A Free Soul
Actress: Marie Dressier in Min and Bill
Direction: Norman Taurog for Skippy
Production: Grand Hotel (M-G-M)
Actor: Frederic March in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Wallace Beery in The Champ
Actress: Helen Hayes in The Sin of Madelon Claudet
Direction: Frank Borzage for Bad Girl
Production: Cavalcade (Fox)
Actor: Charles Laughton in The Private Life of Henry VIII
Actress: Katharine Hepburn in Morning Glory
Direction: Frank Lloyd for Cavalcade
(The entire section is 790 words.)
Renee Adoree, 35, film actor (The Big Parade, 1925, Call of the Flesh, 1930), 5 October 1933.
Roscoe Conkling "Fatty" Arbuckle, 46, film actor (His Wife's Mother, A Reckless Romance) accused of causing starlet Virginia Rappe's death in 1921, 29 June 1933.
Mary Austin, 65, author of books on Native Americans, including Lands of the Sun (1927) and One Smoke Stories (1934), 13 August 1934.
Heywood Broun, 51, writer, journalist, cofounder of Newspaper Guild, 18 December 1939.
Lon Chaney, 47, actor, star of The Phantom of the Opera (1925) and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), 26 August 1930.
Charles Waddell Chesnutt, 74, novelist (The Conjure Woman, 1899), 15 November 1932.
Herbert Croly, 61, author, publisher of the New Republic, 17 May 1930.
Marie Dressier, 64, film actor, won 1931 Academy Award for Min and Bill, 28 July 1934.
Finley P. Dunne, 68, journalist and humorist, wrote humorous essays in the character of "Mr. Dooley," 24 April 1936.
Harrison Fisher, 58, illustrator of magazine covers, created "Fisher Girl," 19 January 1934.
(The entire section is 607 words.)
Louis Adamic, My America (New York: Harper, 1938);
Sherwood Anderson, Puzzled America (New York: Scribners, 1935);
Nathan Asch, The Road: In Search of America (New York: Norton, 1937);
Cab Calloway, Hepster's Dictionary (New York: C. Galloway, 1936);
Malcolm Cowley, Exile's Return (New York: Viking, 1934);
Edward Dahlberg, Bottom Dogs (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1930);
John Dewey, Art As Experience (New York: Minton Balch, 1934);
Waldo Frank, In the American Jungle (New York: Farrar ScRhinehart, 1937);
Henry Hart, ed., American Writers Congress (New York: International Publishers, 1935);
Granville Hicks, The Great Tradition (New York: Macmillan, 1935);
Ruth McKenney, Industrial Valley (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1939);
James Rorty, Where Life is Better: An Unsentimental American Journey (New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1936);
Gilbert Seldes, Mainland (New York: Scribners, 1936);
Gertrude Stein, Lectures in America (New York: Random House, 1935);
Margaret Thorp, America at...
(The entire section is 143 words.)
Important Events in the Arts, 1930–1939
- Edna Ferber's Cimarron is the year's best seller.
- Sinclair Lewis is the first American to win the Nobel Prize for literature.
- Americans go to the movies in unprecedented numbers, as the Vitascope widens screens and the new "talkies" provide an added dimension to the viewing experience.
- The "Golden Age" of radio begins.
- Grant Wood's painting American Gothic, in which he portrays his sister and his dentist as farmers, helps launch the American Regionalism style of painting. Other regionalist painters include John Curry, Thomas Hart Benton, Georgia O'Keefe, and Edward Hopper.
- Charles Sheeler, archetypal Precisionist, paints American Landscape.
- On January 7, Children of Darkness, by Edwin Justus Mayer, opens at New York's Biltmore Theater.
- On January 14, Bobby Clark and Red Nichols' band—including Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Jimmy Dorsey, and Jack Teagarden—perform songs by George and Ira Gershwin, such as "I've Got a Crush on You," in Strike Up the Band, which opens at New York's Times Square Theater. The musical is based on the book by George S. Kaufman.
- On February 18, Simple Simon, with music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Lorenz Hart, opens at New York's...
(The entire section is 8914 words.)