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1. Historical Context
About this Lecture
In this module, we think about the historical context for The Grapes of Wrath, focusing in particular on the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl crisis of the 1930s, as well Steinbeck’s own experiences in the South prior to writing the novel.
In this course, Dr Sarah Robertson (University of West England) explores John Steinbeck’s 1939 novel, The Grapes of Wrath. We begin by providing some historical context to the novel, focusing in particular on the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl crisis, both of which struck the United States in the 1930s. In the second module, we think about land ownership and the American Dream, focusing in particular on the philosophy of agrarianism and the advent of ‘agri-business’, before turning in the third module to the notions of hope and despair, especially as they are epitomised by the two camps that the Joad family visit in the novel. Finally, in the fourth module, we think about the notion of journeys in the novel, both physical and metaphorical, focusing in particular on the journey that Steinbeck hopes that his reader will make from individualism to communalism, from “I” to “we”.
Sarah Robertson is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Arts and Cultural Industries at the University of the West of England, Bristol. Her research focuses on southern literature and her publications include considerations of poverty, race and class in work of writers such as Jayne Anne Phillips, Katherine Anne Porter and Rick Bragg.
Cite this Lecture
Robertson, S. (2018, August 15). Steinbeck: The Grapes of Wrath - Historical Context [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/steinbeck-the-grapes-of-wrath/historical-context-e6012278-37a6-472d-801c-caf42dee506d
Robertson, S. "Steinbeck: The Grapes of Wrath – Historical Context." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018, https://www.massolit.io/courses/steinbeck-the-grapes-of-wrath/historical-context-e6012278-37a6-472d-801c-caf42dee506d