Testing the seams of the American dream : minority literature and film in the early Cold War


Testing the seams of the American dream : minority literature and film in the early Cold War

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Title: Testing the seams of the American dream : minority literature and film in the early Cold War
Author: Burns, Patricia Mary
Abstract: Testing the Seams of the American Dream: Minority Literature and Film in the Early Cold War delineates the concept of the liberal tolerance agenda in early Cold War. The liberal tolerance message of the U.S. government, the Democratic Party, and others endorsed racial tolerance and envisioned the possibility of a future free from racism and inequality. Filmmakers in often disseminated a liberal message similar to that of the politicians in the form of “race problem” films. My shows how these films and the liberal tolerance agenda as a whole promises racial equality to the racial minority in exchange for hard work, patriotism, education, and a belief in the majority culture. My first chapter, “Washing White the Racial Subject: Hollywood’s First Black Problem Film,” performs a close reading of Arthur Laurents 1946 play Home of the Brave, which features a Jewish American protagonist, in conjunction with a reading of the 1949 film version, which has an African American protagonist. The differences between the two texts reveal the slippages in the liberal tolerance agenda and signal the inability of filmmakers to envision racial equality on the big screen. “The American Institution and the Racial Subject,” my second chapter, discusses the 1949 film Pinky as well as Américo Paredes’s George Washington Gómez and Monica Sone’s Nisei Daughter. All of these works suggests that the attainment of education promises entry into the mainstream by racial minorities, yet Paredes and Sone question this process by interpreting it as resulting in the dual segregation of their protagonists. My third chapter, “Earning and Cultural Capital: The Work that Determines Place,” looks at the promise that with hard work anyone can attain the American Dream. I show how the 1951 film Go for Broke!, Ann Petry’s The Street, and José Antonio Villarreal’s Pocho work to dispel this American myth. My final chapter, “The Regrets of Dissent: Blacklists and the Race Question,” examines the 1954 film Salt of the Earth alongside Chester Himes’s If He Hollers Let Him Go and John Okada’s No-No Boy to reveal the dangerous mixture of race and dissent in this era.
Department: English
Subject: Cold War Minority literature African American Mexican American Japanese American Home of the brave Stanley Kramer Arthur Laurents Frank Capra Ann Petry The street Jose Antonio Villarreal Pocho Go for broke Americo Paredes George Washington Gomez Monica Sone Nisei Daughter Pinky Chester Himes If he hollers let him go John Okada No-No Boy Salt of the earth Dissent
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2152/ETD-UT-2011-08-3751
Date: 2011-08

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