7.0506 Culture in the Cold War Era/Howard Fast (1/62)

Mon, 21 Feb 1994 22:48:58 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 7, No. 0506. Monday, 21 Feb 1994.

Date: Mon, 21 Feb 1994 21:54:52 -0500 (EST)
From: Daniel Traister <traister@pobox.upenn.edu>
Subject: The Politics of Culture in the Cold War Era/Howard Fast exhibition

The following announcement is being cross-posted to AMLIT-L, H-AMSTDY,
HUMANIST, and ExLibris. Please excuse any duplication. It may be
cross-posted without permission to other lists where it may be of interest.

Symposium and Exhibit at Penn: March 23, 1994

On March 23rd, the University of Pennsylvania Library together
with Penn's English and History Departments will host a symposium on "The
Politics of Culture in the Cold War Era." The half-day event will bring
to Penn a trio of noted scholars who, together with Penn faculty, will
explore the political context of cultural production in a post-war America
confronting a new adversary, the Soviet Union. Concentrating on litera-
ture and popular culture, scholars will discuss some of the implications
a new and more wary political climate had for writers and artists as well
as for their audiences. What was written? what was produced? and what
was written out? Which artists and what types of culture thrived and
which did not during the 1950's? What happened to traditions of writing
on the Left after the War? In addressing these and other questions,
speakers will revisit the literary and artistic canons that emerged in the
'50s, arguing the need for a thorough reappraisal of the culture of the

The symposium marks the opening of a major new exhibit, "Being
Read: The Career of Howard Fast." Based on the Fast archive in the
University of Pennsylvania Library, the exhibit chronicles the turbulent
career of one of America's most acclaimed writers who himself was
profoundly affected by the political currents of his times. Best known for
such historical novels as *Citizen Tom Paine*, *Freedom Road*, *April
Morning*, and *Spartacus*, Fast is also the author of more recent best-
sellers, notably the series of novels beginning with *The Immigrants* which
relate the story of modern Jewish immigration to the United States.
However, as recounted in his 1990 memoir, *Being Red*, Fast's career has
been anything but conventional. A government servant working for the
Office of War Information during the early days of World War II, foreign
correspondent later in the War, political journalist, candidate for public
office, and prisoner for his political beliefs in a federal penitentiary,
Howard Fast has also been his own publisher when his politics made it
difficult for him to publish with established houses. His career has been
inextricably intertwined with the chilling political climate of the late
1940s and '50s. Mr. Fast will also participate in the symposium.

Chaired by Penn historian Thomas Sugrue, the symposium features
Barbara Foley of Rutgers University (Newark), who will speak on pre-war
contexts of radical literature; Alan Wald of the University of Michigan,
who will talk about writers on the Left during the 1950s; and Paul Buhle of
the University of Rhode Island, who will explore forms and expressions of
popular culture in the '50s. The symposium will conclude with a conver-
sation with Howard Fast, led by Alan Filreis of Penn's English Department
and Alan Wald.

A reception will immediately follow the symposium, during which
members of the audience will have a chance to view the exhibit and talk
with the speakers and with Howard Fast.

The symposium is being made possible by the Thomas S. Gates Fund.

The program is on Wednesday, March 23rd, and runs from 1:00 PM -
5:00 PM in the Dietrich Reading Room on the first floor of the Van
Pelt-Dietrich Library, 3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia. It is free and
open to the public. Photo ID is required for admission to the Library.
For more information, contact either Michael Ryan or Daniel Traister of
the Library's Special Collections Department at 215 898 7088.