During the economic and social catastrophe of the Great Depression of the 1930s, most Americans changed their views of the government’s role in their lives as they supported New Deal measures to mitigate and reform the worst aspects of the crisis. Despite this change in political and social values, however, most historians and casual observers assume that the entertainment and popular music of the era was escapist, taking hard-hit people away from their troubles. How do we reconcile this conflict between politics and entertainment? It is the purpose of this Teacher’s Seminar to examine entertainment’s role in the crisis, how it reflected and shaped audience’s values and how in many ways it supported the shifts in politics. By discussing popular music, motion pictures, sports,and other aspects of entertainment, participants will have a chance to explore how to use entertainment in the classroom.
Seminar led by Lewis Erenberg, Loyola University