Dr. Andrew Wood
Office: HGH 210; phone: (408) 924-5378
We witness a retreat from the romantic ideal of public life. The Depression and impending war has shaken American notions of community to their core. Arcadian promises of open vistas and peaceful concord between self and society are bypassed as corporate and government planners focus the nation's attention to the "world of tomorrow." Doubts about our ability to construct a better world are silenced; they must be, if the nation can face the adversaries of self-doubt within and totalitarianism abroad. With world's fairs, from the Victorian period through the postwar era, we discover sites of social planning on the grandest scale. However, even as superhighways, nuclear-powered cities, and gleaming appliances promised by the fairs fill our cultural landscape, dystopian fears of totalitarianism have not been crushed with the defeat of Axis powers. The federal government has become a more significant force in public life than ever before. Thousands of suburban gardens bloom, but the subtle machinery of control grows just beneath America's well-manicured lawns.
Readings: Gelernter, Susman, Rydell, and Dikkers
Notes: Gelernter - Fair Theme Center and Futurama
Notes: Susman - Cultural Contradictions of a Consumer Society
Notes: Rydell - African-Americans and the Prewar Fairs
Notes: Middleton Family Film
Supplemental Website: Wood's Images from the 1939-40 New York World's Fair
Supplemental Website: Images from the 1933-34 Century of Progress Fair
Viewing: The Middleton Family at the 1939 World's Fair
Viewing: The World of Tomorrow
Dannysoar, Norman Bel Geddes - images of the flying wing.
Discovery Channel, Future Worlds, 1939
National Public Radio Morning Edition, Our Vision of the Future including an interview with Dr. Andrew Wood
St. Petersburg Times, Tomorrowland - "The future, like just about everything else, is owned and operated by the world's corporate and government power brokers. It's a future filled with products -- a better this, a smaller that, a quicker whatever."
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