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Nexus: The Grapes of Wrath & THE AMERICAN DREAM



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SUMMARY OF THE GRAPES OF WRATH & THE AMERICAN DREAM volume of NEXUS

THE GRAPES OF WRATH interdisciplinary NEXUS book explores the nexus (web of connections) between Steinbeck's novel The Grapes of Wrath and Great Depression-era history, art, theater, music, and science.

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THE MAN BEHIND THE WRATH (a chapter from The Grapes of Wrath & the American Dream)

THE MAN BEHIND THE WRATH— Who was John Steinbeck? What motivated his art? In particular, what experiences drove him to write The Grapes of Wrath.


STEINBECK IN FOCUS, THE ART OF SEEING

  1. In The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck helps us to be better observers of life, to see beyond stereotypes, and to be empathetic. In this chapter we examine some of the ways Steinbeck uses language and structure to help us to see more broadly and deeply.

  2. The Supplement "WORD PORTRAITS" (free with class-set orders) teaches students to sharpen their observation skills and to write character portraits in the manner of Steinbeck (and other novelists).

  3. Suggested activities for students

"WHEN THE LAND BLEW AWAY" investigates:

  1. The causes and effects of the Dust Bowl disaster;

  2. How the New Deal met the crisis;

  3. Dorothea Lange and Paul Taylor photographs of migrant camps;

  4. Steinbeck's "The Harvest Gypsies."

  5. This chapter is spliced with lyrics from Woodie Guthrie songs.

  6. Suggested activities for students

"HARVESTING STEINBECK'S SYMBOLS" explores:

  1. The symbolic roles of the turtle and Casy in The Grapes of Wrath;

  2. Steinbeck's belief in spiritual evolution.

  3. Suggested activities for students

"THE ABC'S OF THE NEW DEAL" examines:

  1. The goals of the New Deal and New Deal programs;

  2. FDR’s confrontation with the Supreme Court and with various anti-New Deal groups.

"UNCLE SAM IN THE LIMELIGHT" explores:

  1. The Federal Theater Project and some of its noteworthy productions (Swing Mikado and Orson Wells's Voodoo Macbeth);

  2. The first “Living Newspapers” Triple-A Plowed Under, which we link it to the Dust Bowl and The Grapes of Wrath;

  3. Living Newspapers dramatized current events, employing many actors, up to fifty per Living Newspaper.

  4. Suggested activities for students

STEINBECK, THE GROUP THEATRE & PEOPLE'S THEATERS explores:

  1. The movement that reshaped American theater;

  2. Socially conscience drama by Clifford Odets and others.

NEW DEAL ART

  1. We help students interpret some of the best Treasury Department Post Office murals.

  2. Includes five suggested activities for students.

THE SCIENCE OF SEEING

  1. We examine sections of Sea of Cortez, co-wrritten by Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts.

  2. Sea of Cortez contains many examples of Steinbeck’s superb observation skills and his manner of deriving hypotheses from careful observations.

  3. We link Steinbeck's methods to a high school biology experiment and the role of observation in science.

STEINBECK & CHARLIE CHAPLIN’S MODERN TIMES

  1. Chaplin explores mechanization, dehumanization, depression, poverty, unions, and strikes, as Steinbeck does, but with a humorous spin.

  2. We examine the "little-guy" themes that thread through most Chaplin films.

  3. This chapter includes omparisons between the film and The Grapes of Wrath

  4. Suggested activities for students

THE DEPRESSION’S UPBEAT: SWING MUSIC

  1. Explores the development of Swing Music.

  2. Suggested activities help students identify patterns in Swing Music.

SUPPLEMENTS (free with class-set orders)

  1. AMERICA TRANSFORMED, THE WPA & THE ARTS
  2. THE HISTORY OF ART IN THE NEW DEAL ERA.
  3. WORD PORTRAITS
  4. REPETITION IN THE GRAPES OF WRATH, ECCLESIASTES, AND MUSIC

CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS AND CONSULTANTS for The Grapes of Wrath & the American Dream

  1. Consultant Robert DeMott, former director of the Steinbeck Research Center at San Jose State University, editor of Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck, author of Steinbeck's Typewriter: Essays on His Art, iUniverse, 2012, and Professor of Literature at Ohio University. Mr. DeMott was awarded a Burkhardt Prize for his contributions to Steinbeck studies.

  2. Consultant Susan Shillinglaw, director of the Steinbeck Center at San Jose State University and scholar-in-residence at the National Steinbeck Center

  3. Consultant Marlene Park, co-author of Democratic Vistas: Post Offices & Public Art in the New Deal, Temple University Press, 1984

  4. Contributor Anne Loftis, author of Witnesses to the Struggle, Imaging the 1930's California Labor Movement, University of Nevada Press, 1998, John Steinbeck and Farm Labor Unionization: The Background of In Dubious Battle (with Jackson J. Benson), American Literature, 1980, and California-Where the Twain Did Meet, MacMillan, 1973

  5. Contributor William Park, Professor of literature and film at Sarah Lawrence College, specializing in Depression-era cinema, author of The Idea of Rococo, University of Delaware Press, 1993

  6. Contributor and Consultant Francis V. O'Connor, editor of The New Deal Art Projects: An Anthology of Memoirs, Smithsonian Institute Press, 1972, and Art for the Millions, Essays from the 1930s by Artists and Administrators of the WPA Federal Art Project, Butterworth-Heinemann Ltd, 1975

  7. Contributor and Consultant Paul Ferguson, former trombonist of the Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey Orchestras, writer for Jazz Player, Director of the Ohio Jazz Orchestra for Youth, and head of the Jazz Division at Case Western Reserve University

  8. Contributor Robert Hethmon, editor of Strasberg at the Studio: Tape-Recorded Session (preface by Burgess Meredith), Theatre Communications Group, 1993, and former Professor of Theater at UCLA. Mr. Hethmon is currently writing books on Harold Clurman and the Group Theatre

  9. Contributor Lorraine Brown, director of the Research Center for the Federal Theater Project at George Mason University and co-editor of Free, Adult, Uncensored, the Living History of the Federal Theater Project (foreward by John Houseman), Simon and Schuster, 1978

  10. Contributor Kenneth Bindas, Professor of History at Kent State University and author of All of this Music Belongs to the Nation: The WPA’s Federal Music Project and American Society, 1935-1939, University of Tennessee Press, 1996

  11. Contributor Jen Mahon

  12. Contributor Tricia Yakovich, Biology teacher

  13. Editor Jesse Bryant Wilder

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