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Robert A. Gates

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Profile created July 18, 2006
  • The New York Vision (1987)
    A critical study of the evolution of New York City in the American novel during the past two centuries. No two novelists have ever viewed the city in the same manner; each describes the city according to his viewpoint and the times in which he writes. Authors discussed are James Fenimore Cooper, Herman Melville, Edith Wharton, Stephen Crane, John Dos Passos, Thomas Wolfe, Nathaniel West, Saul Bellow, and John Cheever. Of interest to students and teachers of American Studies and the novel.

  • American Literary Humor During the Great Depression (1999)
    While volumes have been generated about the Great Depression, relatively little work has been done on the social transformations during the 1930s and few attempts have been made to relate these transformations to American literary humor. The economic troubles of the decade gave rise to one of the richest periods of American humor. This book explores in depth how literary humor evolved during the Depression and how in conjunction with the Depression it helped shape and change the American consciousness. Among the authors studied are Robert Benchley, Zora Neale Hurston, H. L. Mencken, Ogden Nash, James Thurber, Will Rogers, and Damon Runyon, along with the many unknown writers of the WPA who amassed invaluable records of rural folklore during that turbulent time.

    The study is spread out over five chapters with each exploring a separate part of our cultural history and its effect on literary humor. The negative psychological aspects of the Depression and how writers used humor to diffuse its effects are treated in the first chapter. The chapters that follow examine the changing roles of husbands and wives within the family, the reinforcement or rejection of traditional ethnic stereotypes in racial humor, the questioning of the validity of the opinions or sentiments of America's professionals, and the role American labor played or was expected to play during the national crisis.

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