By Greg Barnhisel
Eu intellectuals of the Nineteen Fifties pushed aside American tradition as not anything greater than cowboy video clips and the A-bomb. In reaction, American cultural diplomats attempted to teach that the U.S. had whatever to supply past army could and advertisement exploitation. via literary magazines, touring paintings indicates, traveling musical indicates, radio courses, booklet translations, and meetings, they deployed the progressive aesthetics of modernism to prove--particularly to the leftists whose chilly battle loyalties they was hoping to secure--that American paintings and literature have been aesthetically wealthy and culturally significant.
Yet through repurposing modernism, American diplomats and cultural professionals grew to become the avant-garde into the institution. They remade the as soon as innovative circulate right into a content-free choice of creative recommendations and types compatible for middlebrow intake. chilly struggle Modernists records how the CIA, the kingdom division, and personal cultural diplomats remodeled modernist artwork and literature into pro-Western propaganda through the first decade of the chilly battle. Drawing on interviews, formerly unknown archival fabrics, and the tales of such figures and associations as William Faulkner, Stephen Spender, Irving Kristol, James Laughlin, and Voice of the USA, Barnhisel unearths how the U.S. executive reconfigured modernism as a trans-Atlantic move, a joint activity among American and eu artists, with profound implications for the paintings that and for the nature of yankee identification.
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Additional resources for Cold War Modernists: Art, Literature, and American Cultural Diplomacy
In this formulation, most influentially presented by the philosopher Theodor Adorno, modernism’s difficulty and fragmentation were a response to mass culture, the cultural products produced by capitalism with the intention of conveying, reinforcing, and reproducing capitalist ideology. Because everything these products offered was so familiar and similar, varying only in minor details, readers or viewers or listeners found them instantly recognizable and comfortable. But by the late nineteenth century, such mass-cultural products became associated with low-status groups: the working classes, the uneducated, women.
Notwithstanding MacLeish’s opposition, informationalists continued to dominate cultural diplomacy for the duration of World War II through both the OWI and—after 1944, when the OWI was terminated—the Department of State. In January 1944, the Division of Cultural Relations was renamed the Division of Science, Education, and Art and placed under the newly created Office of Public Information. Countering Soviet influence and promoting democracy abroad came to dominate the State Department’s priorities, and in that shift the division moved definitively toward an informational mission, backed by a series of planning memos authored by Professor Ralph Turner of Yale, who had been tasked with heading the division’s research program.
For many decades, the institutions of high culture as well as broader middle-class society had assailed, feared, rejected, and mocked modernist art, and modernists had responded in kind. But in the post–World War II years, broad segments of the American cultural and political establishment—including the federal T O DAY PAUL GO O D M AN’S FREEDOM , INDIVIDUALISM , MODERNISM government itself—tentatively welcomed modernism, finding in it an effective propaganda weapon. Its deployment in the rhetorical skirmishes of the Cold War account in part for the evolving attitudes about modernism, as do larger shifts in American society of the time.