(2009 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist) In this wide-ranging series of essays, theater and English professor Morris Dickstein looks at the literature, arts, and popular culture of the 1930s, and finds parallel strands of anxiety and hope that both acknowledged and looked beyond the era's economic disasters.
"Dickstein's fluent, erudite, intriguing meditations turn up many resonances, comparing, for example, the Nazi propaganda film Triumph of the Will to Busby Berkeley musicals and Gone with the Wind to gangster films.... A fascinating portrait of a distant era that still speaks compellingly to our own."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A collection of thoughtfully linked essays on relatively few but exemplary works and their creators—novels, poems, plays, movies, art (both high and decorative) and music (both popular and classical) that defined the period between the Crash of 1929 and America's entrance into World War II.... Dickstein is terrific on all kinds of expression."—LATimes
"Dancing in the Dark is a book best read slowly, perhaps with a DVD player or YouTube close at hand, so that when Dickstein invokes Fred Astaire's 'refusal to dance, and the very dance in which he acts this out' in Swing Time, you can see exactly what he means.... As we again find ourselves whistling past the big, bad wolf of economic hard times, Dickstein reminds us of how much we owe the culture that taught all of us how to face the music and dance."—Nation