Witnesses to the Struggle
Imaging the 1930s California Labor Movement
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Author: Anne Loftis

Format: Paper
Pages: 256
ISBN: 9780874174502
Published Date: 2014


In this groundbreaking interdisciplinary study, Loftis examines the artists who put a human face on the farmworkers’ plight in California during the Great Depression, focusing on writer John Steinbeck, photographer Dorothea Lange, sociologist and author Paul Taylor, and journalist Carey McWilliams. Loftis probes the interplay between journalism and art in the 1930s, when both academics and artists felt an urgent need to be relevant in the face of enormous misery. The power of their work grew out of their personal involvement in both the labor struggles and the hardships endured by workers and their families. Steinbeck, Lange, and the other artists and intellectuals in their circles created the public images of their times. Works such as The Grapes of Wrath or Lange’s Migrant Mother actually helped mold public opinion and form government policies. Even today these works remain icons in our shared perception of that era. Loftis helps us understand why this art still seems the truest representation of those desperate times, three-quarters of a century later.

Author Bio
Anne Loftis was born in New York City in 1922, graduated from Smith College in 1944, and worked as a journalist and researcher after moving to California in 1954. She was research assistant to sociologist Paul Taylor for many years and is the daughter of the noted historian Allan Nevins. She is the co-author of The Great Betrayal: The Evacuation of Japanese-Americans During World War II, A Long Time Coming: The Struggle to Unionize America's Farm Workers, and the author of California, Where the Twain Did Meet.
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