As a lot of people have been saying: really enjoyed the course! Very a new topic for me, and very refreshing -- both in terms of the course's short term and the wide range of topics we covered about the Depression. The course was the perfect blend of time and space of an era and I felt like I came out with enough information to add a lot to a conversation about it. Also feel like I got ALL sides to it, we covered a very wide range of all the different interpretations, voices, perspectives of the Depression, which I'm really grateful for.
I have a couple takeaways, the first, and one that stands out to me first for some reason, is A Cool Million
by Nathanael West. For me, a lot of the readings that were assigned to this class required several sittings (not because they were dull, but because I think the Depression itself was slow and painful) but for this one, I don't think I even looked up. I thought it was wild and funny, a nice change to what we've been reading and a great example of the different genres that came out of the period. This reading was just plain BIZARRE -- it was a combination, in my mind of a political satire, an epic, a mock-bible or moral document. The way it was so formally, and classically, narrated (almost awkwardly so, or overdone with it's grandafather-like "A few chapters ago, I left you .... ") reminded me of a story-telling elder, but the content was horrific and ridiculous. It was set up like a nightmare! Which, I understand, was somewhat disgusting, but in the end I thought was a really ncie addition to our set of readings!
Another takeaway from this course was the idea of convincing the nation with photography. In theory, this is a pretty known concept, and one which I was aware of before, propaganda, advertising, etc... but I thought it was sort of crazy that photography like Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans were paid to take pictures of America, to show
America how bad it was. Photographers definitely have always played a role in sending messages out, but in these cases, the viewable image played a much heavier role during the Depression, and put a lot of pressure, tension, and weight on the photographers themselves. 'Documenting' took on a whole new meaning for me in this class.
Overall -- Great class, new topic, perfect balance of fields, refreshing and fun!