A New Kind of Public
Community, Solidarity, and Political Economy in New Deal Cinema, 1935-1948
In 1936, director John Ford claimed to be making movies for “a new kind of public” that wanted more honest pictures. In this insightful and stimulating book Cassano argues that this new kind of public was forged in the fires of class struggle and economic calamity. Those struggles appeared in Hollywood productions, as the movies themselves tried to explain the causes and consequence of the Great Depression. Using the tools of critical Marxism and cultural theory, Cassano surveys Hollywood’s political economic explanations and finds a field of symbolic struggle in which radical visions of solidarity and conflict competed with the dominant class ideology for the loyalty. of this new audience
"Cassano develops original insights into New Deal cinema -and also into cultural artifacts in general - by applying to them creative interpretations of C. Wright Mills and a self-critical Marxism. As he opens up the complexities of artifact, audience, and their overdetermined and contradictory relationship, a powerful and critical cultural analysis emerges, one with wide implications for understanding social structures and changes."
—Richard D. Wolff University of Massachusetts, Amherst (retired), author of Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism
"This sophisticated and powerful work shows how stars, directors, studios, writers, and censors responded to the new possibilities of entertaining an audience formed by the labor upsurges of the mid-1930s. In his constant identification of telling detail, his sweeping ability to see the workings of class without losing sight of the impact of race and gender, and his deft use of theory, Cassano more excitingly approximates the wonderful work of the late Michael Rogin than does any other contemporary writer."
—David Roediger University of Kansas, and author of Seizing Freedom: Slave Emancipation and Freedom for All