Degree Year

1972

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

English

Keywords

Literature, Theater

Abstract

Sing us a song of social significance Or you can sing until you're blue Let meaning shine in every line Or we won't love you. This snatch of lyrics, sung in the International Ladies Garment Workers. Union revue Pins and Needles of 1937 captures an important aspect of the literary spirit of the 1930's. This decade was marked by a tendency of artists towards political and social commitment, a time when the reconstruction of American society and the menace of Fascism was a cause celebre to which artists could rally. American artists had always been interested in changing society, or at least exposing the evils they perceived. But the 1930's saw a new kind of commitment and dedication. The economic breakdown caused by the depression had involved a search for social alternatives much more intense than the complacency of the prosperous 1920's had witnessed. To many writers of the twenties, the social enemies were straw men, the Puritans and the Philistines, and not, significantly, the system which had nurtured them. To those writers who were disgusted by the emptiness they perceived in American during this decade, escape lay simply in flight to the bohemianism of Greenwich Village or the cultural richness of Paris. The only time the twenties had witnessed a consolidation of the artistic-intellectual community was the rally to defend Sacco and Venzettl. But the disparate elements brought together were dispersed after the execution of the anarchists, not, to converge again until the middle of the next decade. By this time, the writers had realized that their pens could be formidable weapons, and remained at home to fight.

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