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1930s culture coming to a screen near you…

This Saturday the 26th I’ll be at the National Book Festival talking with historian Douglas Brinkley about the WPA writers and what they found in 1930s America. Doug generously wrote the foreword for Soul of a People and appears in the film. After our talk in the History tent we’ll head to the C-SPAN tent for a call-in show around 11 am.

This Saturday is also Museum Day, and for that Smithsonian magazine offers a coupon for free admission at hundreds of museums across the United States. Find a participating museum near you, and then find out if they’re showing Soul of a People that day (some are). Then let us know what you think about the Writers’ Project as an experiment in democracy.
Morris Dickstein has a fine essay in the current American Scholar about 1930s American culture, including the WPA Writers’ Project and how they portrayed “an America under siege, gazing inward, taking an inventory of itself 150 years after becoming a nation.” As if to underscore its significance, the National Book Foundation’s poll this week, choosing the best National Book Award fiction author ever, includes three former WPA writers (Ralph Ellison, Eudora Welty and John Cheever) among its six finalists.

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