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Turncoats, Traitors, and Fellow Travelers

Turncoats, Traitors, and Fellow Travelers: Culture and Politics of the Early Cold War

Arthur Redding
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Turncoats, Traitors, and Fellow Travelers
    Book Description:

    The Cold War was unique in the way films, books, television shows, colleges and universities, and practices of everyday life were enlisted to create American political consensus. This coercion fostered a seemingly hegemonic, nationally unified perspective devoted to spreading a capitalist, socially conservative notion of freedom throughout the world to fight Communism.

    InTurncoats, Traitors, and Fellow Travelers: Culture and Politics of the Early Cold War, Arthur Redding traces the historical contours of this manufactured consent by considering the ways in which authors, playwrights, and directors participated in, responded to, and resisted the construction of Cold War discourses. The book argues that a fugitive resistance to the status quo emerged as writers and activists variously fled into exile, went underground, or grudgingly accommodated themselves to the new spirit of the times.

    To this end, Redding examines work by a wide swath of creators, including essayists (W. E. B. Du Bois and F. O. Matthiessen), novelists (Ralph Ellison, Patricia Highsmith, Jane Bowles, and Paul Bowles), playwrights (Arthur Miller), poets (Sylvia Plath), and filmmakers (Elia Kazan and John Ford). The book explores how writers and artists created works that went against mainstream notions of liberty and offered alternatives to the false dichotomy between capitalist freedom and totalitarian tyranny. These complex responses and the era they reflect had and continue to have profound effects on American and international cultural and intellectual life, as can be seen in the connections Redding makes between past and present.

    eISBN: 978-1-60473-326-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-2)
    (pp. 3-36)

    WhileTurncoats, Traitors, and Fellow Travelerscomprises a relatively modest inquiry into the works and careers of a mere handful of mostly radical, mostly American, intellectuals during the formative years of the Cold War, between 1947 and 1963, I think it important to begin with a brief speculative outline of what might be at stake in this or any work of committed historical and cultural inquiry. Envisaged as a critical study of diverse but significant figures, this book investigates how their works variously accommodated, refused, refigured, or interrupted the increasingly globalized cultural and political logic of “containment” instantiated and performed...

  5. CHAPTER TWO CLOSET, COUP, AND COLD WAR F. O. Matthiessen’s From the Heart of Europe
    (pp. 37-56)

    “I date the beginning of the Cold war, the real beginning for people like myself,” comments the economist Kenneth Boulding with too patent a glint of melodrama, “from the moment [F. O.] Matthiessen’s body hit the sidewalk outside Boston Garden” (qtd. in White 50–51).¹ Another friend concurs: “When Professor Matthiessen died, the cold war made its first martyr among scholars” (Dunham 102). Matthiessen, a Harvard professor, an untiring political activist, and a renowned literary critic whose most enduring work has proven to be his 1941American Renaissance, jumped to his death on April 1, 1950, in the midst of...

  6. CHAPTER THREE WHAT’S BLACK AND WHITE AND RED ALL OVER? The Cold War and the Geopolitics of Race
    (pp. 57-78)

    W. E. B. Du Bois opens his posthumously published autobiography with a description of his “15th Trip Abroad,” begun in August 1958, during which he “saw something of Britain, Holland and France; then in the Fall and early Winter, I lived in the Soviet Union, resting a part of the time in a sanatorium. In the Winter and Spring I was three months in China, and then returned to Moscow for May Day. I visited the tenth session of the World Council of Peace in Stockholm, and finally stayed a month in England. On July 1, 1959, I came home.”...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A MAN Masculinity, Deviance, and Sexuality
    (pp. 79-97)

    Alan Brinkley remarks on how curiously successful the Cold War consensus was at consolidating a “culture that reflected an essential unity of interests and values widely shared by Americans of all classes, regions, races, and creeds”(62). “How was it possible,” he asks, “for so many Americans to believe in something that now seems clearly untrue?”(62). It was made possible, I have been arguing, in part through a complex mechanism of sexual policing. The Cold War consensus—which I understand to constitute from around 1947 onward an entirely novel social technology of power that relied upon American subjects’ “consensual” affiliation to...

    (pp. 98-132)

    An alert reader will discern a deep and vexing mournfulness at the heart of Daniel Bell’s zeitgeist-defining 1961 book,The End of Ideology: On the Exhaustion of Political Ideas in the Fifties, which narrates American intellectuals’ passage from the aesthetic and political radicalism that marked the 1920s and 1930s to the sobering realities of the Cold War as a traumatizing journey from innocence to experience. The ache in Bell’s writing is most evident when he endeavors to pit the battle-weary political maturation of his own “sadder but wiser” generation of intellectuals against the soul-stirring vitality of earlier generations. On the...

  9. CHAPTER SIX FRONTIER MYTHOGRAPHIES Savagery and Civilization in John Ford
    (pp. 133-152)

    The Cold War was locked into place in 1948; 1952, I have argued, marks its acme. By the early 1960s, the consensus was in crisis; it no longer served as an adequate narrative model to explain and contain its own contradiction. Culturally, the breakup of the consensus can be witnessed in the series of works published between 1961 and 1964 that explicitly lampooned Cold War paranoia, the military-industrial complex, McCarthyism, sexual and gender conformity, and the politics of Red-baiting. Notable among these works were two landmarks of postmodern satire, Ken Kesey’s antiauthoritarian epic,One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest(1962),...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 153-166)
    (pp. 167-176)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 177-183)