Cold War Modernists: Art, Literature, and American Cultural Diplomacy by Greg BarnhiselCold War Modernists: Art, Literature, and American Cultural Diplomacy by Greg Barnhisel

Cold War Modernists: Art, Literature, and American Cultural Diplomacy

byGreg Barnhisel

Hardcover | February 24, 2015

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European intellectuals of the 1950s dismissed American culture as nothing more than cowboy movies and the A-bomb. In response, American cultural diplomats tried to show that the United States had something to offer beyond military might and commercial exploitation. Through literary magazines, traveling art exhibits, touring musical shows, radio programs, book translations, and conferences, they deployed the revolutionary aesthetics of modernism to prove--particularly to the leftists whose Cold War loyalties they hoped to secure--that American art and literature were aesthetically rich and culturally significant.

Yet by repurposing modernism, American diplomats and cultural authorities turned the avant-garde into the establishment. They remade the once revolutionary movement into a content-free collection of artistic techniques and styles suitable for middlebrow consumption. Cold War Modernists documents how the CIA, the State Department, and private cultural diplomats transformed modernist art and literature into pro-Western propaganda during the first decade of the Cold War. Drawing on interviews, previously unknown archival materials, and the stories of such figures and institutions as William Faulkner, Stephen Spender, Irving Kristol, James Laughlin, and Voice of America, Barnhisel reveals how the U.S. government reconfigured modernism as a trans-Atlantic movement, a joint endeavor between American and European artists, with profound implications for the art that followed and for the character of American identity.

Greg Barnhisel teaches in the English department at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. His previous books include James Laughlin, New Directions, and the Remaking of Ezra Pound and, with Catherine Turner, Pressing the Fight: Print, Propaganda, and the Cold War.
Title:Cold War Modernists: Art, Literature, and American Cultural DiplomacyFormat:HardcoverDimensions:336 pagesPublished:February 24, 2015Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231162308

ISBN - 13:9780231162302


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Table of Contents

Abbreviations and Note on Unpublished SourcesAcknowledgmentsIntroduction1. Freedom, Individualism, Modernism2. "Advancing American Art": Modernist Painting and Public-Private Partnerships3. Cold Warriors of the Book: American Book Programs in the 1950s4. Encounter Magazine and the Twilight of Modernism5. Perspectives USA and the Economics of Cold War Modernism6. American Modernism in American Broadcasting: The Voice of (Middlebrow) AmericaConclusionNotesIndex

Editorial Reviews

[Cold War Modernists] is an impressive achievement, based on extensive archival research, a close reading of the most important secondary literature, and some key interviews.