Readings for October 25 and 27

For Tuesday 10/25, please read:

*Stuart Kidd, “Dissonant Encounters: FSA Photographers and the Southern Underclass, 1935-1943”

*Roy Stryker, FSA Director, Shooting Scripts

For Thursday, 10/27, please read:

*Benjamin Filene, “”Our Singing Country’: John and Alan Lomax, Leadbelly, and the Construction of an American Past”

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Next Week

For next week, you have a mini-vacation from reading. If this leaves you with lots of extra time, you can do a few things: 1) Catch up on any reading you haven’t done; 2) use this time to start reading one of the last two novels, The Girl or Day of the Locust; or 3) Start thinking about what source you might want to use for the 3rd response paper, which is due Nov 1. Remember for this one, you have to closely analyze part of a non-written source–a photo, a song, a radio address, a film clip, etc.. I think the idea will be to use your close reading to somehow connect your text to New Deal liberal ideology as we’ve discussed it in the past few classes: is your text reinforcing, challenging, or somehow reimagining New Deal liberalism? Let me know if you need a copy of a particular text we’ve looked at and I will find it for you.

Have a nice weekend.


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Second Response Paper and readings for next week

For next Tuesday, October 11, your second response paper is due. The paper should closely analyze a passage from “Deeds.” You can either:

Make a claim about how Shaw represents and/or critiques the sharecropping system.


Make a claim about how Shaw characterizes his organizing with the Sharecroppers’ Union.

You can use information and conceptual frameworks from lecture, but again, your analysis should be mostly grounded in  your passage. Think hard about the kinds of language Shaw uses to describe his work and/or activism and narrate his life, and try to use the details to deepen your insights about the specific arguments he’s making.

For tomorrow, you should bring in a passage you will use for your paper–try to construct a thesis statement, but if not, just bring in your passage.

You also have some short primary source readings for Tuesday:

Jesse O. Thomas, “Will the New Deal be a Square Deal for the Negro?” (1933)

Robert C. Weaver, “The New Deal and the Negro: A Look at the Facts”(1935)

And here’s the link to Eleanor Roosevelt’s article “The Negro and Social Change” :

And some for Thursday:

John Lewis, “The Future of Labor” (1936)

Emma Tenayuca Reminisces About Labor Organizing in San Antonio Texas 1936-1938

• Paul S. Taylor and Norman Leon Gold, “San Francisco and the General Strike” Sept 1934

Action Comics, “The Blakely Mine Disaster” (1938)

And a link to this interview with Packinghouse worker Anna Novak

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Reading for Tuesday 9/27 and Thursday 9/29

For Tuesday, please also read this article on depression-era impersonations.We will finish watching My Man Godfrey and discuss it in the context of the article:

Laura Browder, “Passing as Poor: Class Imposture in Depression America”

For Thursday, we will move on to FDR’s attempts to unite the nation and devise and implement New Deal programs. For that day, you’ll read two secondary articles:

Jason Loviglio, “The Fireside Chats and the New Deal”

Michelle Hilmes, “Who we are, Who we are not: the Emergence of National Narratives”

Have a nice weekend.

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First Response Paper Assignment

The first response paper is now due Tuesday, Sept 27. In it, you will do a close reading of one passage from The Maltese Falcon. In two pages, analyze your block quote and connect it to a larger historical, theoretical, or cultural issue. In response to popular sentiment, I am giving you three options:

1.   Analyze the argument Hammett is making about gender, race, ethnicity, and/or sexuality. Some questions to consider: what kinds of behaviors and characteristics does Hammett argue are wrong or grotesque? Who is rewarded, and who is punished? How do these behaviors and characteristics correspond to race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality? Do you think Hammett is critiquing stereotypes, reinforcing them, or critiquing some while reinforcing others?

2.  What argument does the book make with regard to the culture of speculation that was so rampant in the 1920s? You can answer this question in one of two ways: simply analyze a passage closely to get at Hammett’s stance regarding speculation, or compare a passage in The Maltese Falcon with one passage from Raskob’s “Everybody Ought to be Rich” or Kettering’s “Keep the Consumer Dissatisfied.” How is Hammett critiquing or otherwise commenting on the culture Raskob and Kettering seek to create?

3. Do a Marxist reading of Hammett. Using the ideas about workers’ alienation and exploitation that Marx outlines in the quotation I gave you in class, analyze a passage from the novel. How does Hammett’s writing demonstrate the upside-down relationship between people and things that Marx posits?

Answer whichever question you choose with specific details from your passage.If you would like, bring in a copy of your thesis statement on Thursday, and I will look at it during the film. Your thesis, again, should go from specific to general:

In his depiction of  (character, setting etc.) , Hammett (argues, reinforces, critiques) ______(a particular ideology).

See you Thursday, and let me know if you have questions about the paper before then.

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Readings for Tuesday 9/20 and Thursday 9/22

Nice job today–this book is not easy to deal with; there’s a lot going on and a lot of ambiguity. But I think we are on our way to some interesting readings.

Over the weekend, construct a thesis statement about your passage (you are also welcome to use the passage we discussed in class) using the formula we discussed. Your response paper should, in around 2 pages, explicate your argument using details from the passage–you’re also welcome to bring in other details from lecture, etc. Feel free to check in with me by email or in person if you feel lost, need more context, or want to make sure you’re on the right track.

You should mostly be working on the paper, but there are also some short primary readings for Tuesday on the figure of the “forgotten man,” who comes to represent the poor people affected by the depression.

This one is linked:

FDR, “The Forgotten Man,” (Speech from April 1932)

And these you can download:


Letter, Lorena Hickcock to Harry Hopkins, Sept 1933

Charles Walker, “Relief and Revolution, Part 1” (1932)

Charles Walker “Relief and Revolution, Part 2” (1932)

As you read these, think about who the “forgotten man” is–how is he racially and ethnically marked? Who has forgotten him? What is the nation’s responsibility to him? What are the different prescriptions the different writers seem to offer to solve the depression and help the forgotten man?

Then you have a couple of readings for Thursday on women in the depression:

Meridel Le Sueur, “Women on the Breadlines”

Ella Baker and Marvel Cooke, “The Slave Market” (1935)

Norman Cousins, “Will Women Lose Their Jobs?” (1939)

Have a nice weekend.


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Assignment for Thursday 9/15

Great job in class today, again. For Thursday, finish The Maltese Falcon and bring in a passage (photocopied or typed and printed out) that features some kind of racial, ethnic, gender, and/or sexual stereotyping. We will mark them up together in class in order to arrive at an understanding of the novel’s argument about the relationship between ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and criminality in the 1920s United States.  You will be able to use your passage for your first response paper, due the following week; we will work on constructing thesis statements in class.

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