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Dancing inthe Dark Morris Dickstein

  • Broadcast in Psychology
Secret Lives of Men

Secret Lives of Men


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Dickstein a professor of English at the CUNY Graduate Center, surveys a panorama of art that includes high-brow masterpieces and mass entertainments, grim proletarian novels and frothy screwball comedies, haunting photographs of dust bowl poverty and elegant art deco designs. He finds the scene a jumble of fertile contradictions—between outward-looking naturalism and introspective modernism, social consciousness and giddy escapism, a hard-boiled, increasingly desperate individualism and a new vision of singing, dancing, collective solidarity—which somehow cohered into extraordinary attempts to cheer people up—or else to sober them up. While tracing the social meanings of culture, like the Fred Astaire–Ginger Rogers collaboration, which expressed the inner radiance that was one true bastion against social suffering. The result is a fascinating portrait of a distant era that still speaks compellingly to our own