Poverty in American Popular Culture

Essays on Representations, Beliefs and Policy

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About the Book

In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson declared an “unconditional war” on poverty in the form of sweeping federal programs intended to assist millions of impoverished Americans. Two decades later, President Reagan enacted drastic cuts to such programs, claiming that welfare encouraged dependency amongst the poor and famously quipping, “My friends, some years ago, the federal government declared war on poverty, and poverty won.” A wealth of scholarship has addressed these opposing policy positions, as well as the creation and perpetuation of the ideologies informing them, with a particular emphasis on news coverage. However, relatively little attention has been paid to the influence of popular art and entertainment on beliefs regarding poverty’s causes and potential cures.
These essays interrogate the representation of poverty in film, television, music, photography, painting, illustration and other art forms, with examples ranging from the late-nineteenth century to the present day. They map when, how, and why producers of popular culture represent—or ignore—poverty, and examine the assumptions reflected in, and shaped by, these representations.

About the Author(s)

Wylie Lenz is an assistant professor of English in the humanities and social sciences department at Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland, Florida.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Wylie Lenz
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Bibliographic Info: ca. 15 photos, notes, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6422-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3903-1
Imprint: McFarland