||More than any other event of the 1930s, the migration of thousands of jobless and dispossessed Americans from the Dust Bowl states to the "promised land" of California evokes the hardships and despair of the Great Depression. In this innovative new study, Charles Shindo shows how public memory of that migration has been dominated not by academic historians but by a handful of artists and reformers. Shindo examines the images of Dust Bowl migrants in photography, fiction, film, and song and marks off the various distances between these representations and the realities of migrant lives. He shows how photographer Dorothea Lange, novelist John Steinbeck, Hollywood filmmaker John Ford, and folksinger Woody Guthrie, as well as folklorists and government reformers, sympathized with the migrants' plight but also appropriated that experience to further their own aesthetic and ideological agendas. Lange's "Migrant Mother" and other photos, the powerful story of the Joad family in Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, Ford's poetic cinematic adaptation of that novel, and the gritty plainfolk lyrics of Guthrie's Dust Bowl Ballads have all combined to portray the migrants as down-and-out victims of the Great Depression. Shindo, however, contends that these artists failed to fully grasp the essence of "Okie" culture and were more concerned with promoting views and agendas that the migrants themselves might have found inaccurate or unappealing.
|Editors Note 1
||Shows how public memory of the migration of dispossessed Americans from the Dust Bowl states to California in the 1930s has been dominated by images and rhetoric from a handful of artists and reformers. Looks at migrants in photography, fiction, film, and song, revealing that the creators of these images were more concerned with promoting their own agendas rather than accurately portraying Okie culture. Includes b&w photos. For students and general readers. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.