Women, Art and the New Deal


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About the Book

In 1935, the United States Congress began employing large numbers of American artists through the Works Progress Administration—fiction writers, photographers, poster artists, dramatists, painters, sculptors, muralists, wood carvers, composers and choreographers, as well as journalists, historians and researchers. Secretary of Commerce and supervisor of the WPA Harry Hopkins hailed it a “renascence of the arts, if we can call it a rebirth when it has no precedent in our history.” Women were eminently involved, creating a wide variety of art and craft, interweaving their own stories with those of other women whose lives might not otherwise have received attention. This book surveys the thousands of women artists who worked for the U.S. government, the historical and social worlds they described and the collaborative depiction of womanhood they created at a pivotal moment in American history.

About the Author(s)

Katherine H. Adams is a professor emerita of the Department of English at Loyola University New Orleans.

Michael L. Keene is a professor emeritus of English at the University of Tennessee Knoxville.

Bibliographic Details

Katherine H. Adams and Michael L. Keene

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 228
Bibliographic Info: 64 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6297-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2366-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Introduction 1
1. New Deal Documentary 5
2. Women, Documentary, the Depression, and the New Deal: A Convergence Beyond Conventional Wisdom 11
3. The Individual Art Programs, the Women Involved 17
4. Portraits of Modern Women Alone and Together: Face Forward, Standing on New Ground 48
5. Beyond Portraits to Personification: Classical Imagery Transformed in Public Images of Women 70
6. Specific Themes Developed: Selling Beauty and Sexuality 82
7. Moving into Romantic Relationships: The Uncertainties of the New 93
8. American Marriage—and Divorce 105
9. Coping in a World of Violence: The Creation of the Modern Female Folk Hero 116
10. Reproductive Rights and Motherhood 127
11. Race and Class, and Gender 144
12. Women at Work 158
13. And the Subject of Age 183
In Conclusion: “A Blazing Sun against a Black Sky” 190
Chapter Notes 193
Bibliography 207
Index 219

Book Reviews & Awards

“researchers interested in understanding women’s role in New Deal art will find much to like in this book…the great photography and powerful story make it a useful resource. Recommended”—Choice.