Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Table of Contents

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pp. vii-x

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Introduction. Order, Planning, and Reason

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pp. 1-13

When Franklin D. Roosevelt became president in 1933, the country was teetering on the brink of collapse. Many people saw hope in the new president, even though he had not yet done anything. For several weeks after his March inauguration, people wrote letters and sent telegrams to the White House expressing their admiration and respect, sometimes comparing his election to a second coming of sorts.1 Of...

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1. The End of Times: Defining Modernity in the 1930s

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pp. 14-42

“The lexicographer of the future will have some difficulty” defining modernism, wrote William Thomas Walsh in The Catholic World in 1930.1 The full effect of the market crash had yet to make itself known to most Americans, and Walsh, like many within the religious community, was more concerned that the current generation’s fascination with temporal gratification would lead them from belief and salvation. To him, modernism came from a “half-breed mating of a...

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2. A New Model Army: The Civilian Conservation Corps, the National Youth Administration, and Modernity

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pp. 43-81

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first inaugural address sounded more like a sermon than a speech. His election came at a time of unimaginable national trauma where every social and economic indicator pointed to a country and its people near the end of their rope. The future seemed perilously on the brink of...well, no one knew for certain. FDR pulled no punches in the speech, outlining how events of the past had weakened the country and how the people, the president included, had to adopt new ways of understanding government, banking, business, and even...

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3. Salvation Awaits: Expositions, World’s Fairs, and Modernity

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pp. 82-118

“Between 1933 and 1940,” writes historian Robert W. Rydell, “an upthrust of modernist world’s fairs broke through the crust of Depression-Era America and transformed [the cities where they took place] into blazing beacons of light and hope.” He goes on to point out that these fairs and expositions drew more than a hundred million visitors and that their mix of nostalgia and utopianism were projected onto an American population hoping that a new era was imminent. Hundreds of millions more shared these visions through...

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4. A Woman’s Place/A Family’s Hearth: Interior Decorators and Modernity

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pp. 119-151

Men such as Raymond Loewy, Norman Bel Geddes, Henry Dreyfuss, Donald Deskey, Gilbert Rohde, and others dominated much of the American design world during the first half of the twentieth century. These experts “fathered,” according to a 1937 article by Maurine Shaw in Better Homes and Gardens, the modern designs for factories, machines, and consumer packaging, as well as staples for the American home such as beds and other furniture, refrigerators, stoves, lamps, and ashtrays. Predominantly male designers...

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5. Sounds for the Modern Age: Music as Celebration of Modernity

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pp. 152-182

Echoing the lyric from Sam Lewis and Victor Young’s 1932 song “Street of Dreams,” the generation experiencing the Great Depression believed that “yesterday’s gone, tomorrow is near.” Their belief that a new day was coming was both liberating and exhilarating, and they hoped to distance themselves from the failures of the past and create a new world order. In an era where everything seemed uncertain, many turned to music for what musician Alexander Richardson called “spiritual fortification.” The ideals of the past were broken and new dreams were vital to speak to and for...

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Epilogue. New Directions and Challenges: The Postwar Divide

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pp. 183-194

In a 2014 Harper's magazine article, writer Adolph Reed, Jr., laments the demise of American liberalism and the increasing abandonment of ideals rooted in the early twentieth century that sought to regulate capital and organize the social and economic affairs of the state to best serve the majority. He rightfully places the peak of this ideology during the Roosevelt era, especially in the announcement in 1944 of the “second Bill of Rights.” The article accurately delineates the slow decline of these ideals, culminating in the...

Notes

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pp. 195-232

Bibliography

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pp. 233-258

Index

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pp. 259-277

Back Cover

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