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Vintage Snapshots

The Fabrication of a Nation in the W.P.A. American Guide Series


Petra Schindler-Carter

Vintage Snapshots revisits the America of the 1930s through a series of state guide books published by the Federal Writers' Project. It explores the contextual occasion of the American Guides and the mechanics of their making. Their hybrid form - part fiction, part encyclopedia, part travel guide - is interpreted in light of the official American Guide Manual. Contemporary reviews of the guides reveal the extent of enthusiasm over their accomplishment for American culture. Vintage Snapshots also investigates the American Guide Series' troubled relationship with anti-New Deal forces. The politics of national portraiture are placed in the context of previous literary attempts to reproduce the entirety of America in words. A state-by-state compendium records the content of individual guides.
Contents: «Wordage, Poundage, Yardage»: Inventing and Operating the American Baedeker Machine - Designing a Landscape of Words: Genre Negotiations, Composition Policies, and Stylistic Features - «Patchwork Quilt of These United States»: The Rhetoric of Cultural Enthusiasm in Contemporary Reviews - Un-American Guides and Pink Baedekers: The Red Scare of the Federal Writers' Project - A Fabricated Nation: The Politics of Democratic National Portraiture - Vintage Snapshots from Alabama to Wyoming: Reflections of a Cultural Nation in State Profiles.