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Hip Figures: A Literary History of the Democratic Party

by Michael Szalay

Hip Figuresdramatically alters our understanding of the postwar American novel by showing how it mobilized fantasies of black style on behalf of the Democratic Party. Fascinated by jazz, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll, novelists such as Norman Mailer, Ralph Ellison, John Updike, and Joan Didion turned to hip culture to negotiate the voter realignments then reshaping national politics. Figuratively transporting white professionals and managers into the skins of African Americans, these novelists and many others insisted on their own importance to the ambitions of a party dependent on coalition-building but not fully committed to integration. Arbiters of hip for readers who weren't, they effectively branded and marketed the liberalism of their moment-and ours.

New Deal Modernism: American Literature and the Invention of Welfare State

by Michael Szalay

In New Deal Modernism Michael Szalay examines the effect that the rise of the welfare state had on American modernism during the 1930s and 1940s, and, conversely, what difference this revised modernism made to the New Deal's famed invention of "Big Government. " Szalay situates his study within a liberal culture bent on security, a culture galvanized by its imagined need for private and public insurance. Taking up prominent exponents of social and economic security--such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John Maynard Keynes, and John Dewey--Szalay demonstrates how the New Deal's revision of free-market culture required rethinking the political function of aesthetics. Focusing in particular on the modernist fascination with the relation between form and audience, Szalay offers innovative accounts of Busby Berkeley, Jack London, James M. Cain, Robert Frost, Ayn Rand, Betty Smith, and Gertrude Stein, as well as extended analyses of the works of Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, and Richard Wright.

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