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New York City in the 1940s

Taught by Sean McCann, a professor of English at Wesleyan University, this course looks at the cultural life of New York City in a decade of extraordinary transformation. The 1940s were the years when New York became a dominant center of global power and widely regarded as the capital of the world. It was also an era when the city was at the leading edge of deep transformations in social geography, urban form, and political and cultural life that would soon come to characterize much of the United States. Participants will discuss the way these and other factors made New York in the 1940s a seedbed of the great artistic and intellectual movements of the latter half of the 20th century. Our main focus will be on the era’s literary culture, but we will also touch on drama, philosophy and criticism, painting (including surrealism and abstract expressionism), photography, classical music and jazz, and dance.
Dr. Sean McCann, Dr. Sean McCann, a professor of English at Wesleyan University, studies late 19th and early 20th century American literature and its relation to contemporaneous political developments. He is the author of A Pinnacle of Feeling: American Literature and Presidential Government (2008) and Gumshoe America: Hard-Boiled Crime Fiction and the Rise and Fall of New Deal Liberalism (2000), which received honorable mention for the America Studies Association’s John Hope Franklin Prize for the best book in American Studies. His essays have appeared in several journals and edited volumes.
A Wesleyan Institute for Lifelong Learning Partnership Program
The Wesleyan Institute for Lifelong Learning was chartered by Wesleyan University in 2009 to provide educational opportunities to members of the community outside of formal degree-granting programs. The Institute’s objective is to employ the talents of retired and current members of the Wesleyan faculty, plus a few others who are similarly qualified, to present a series of short, intellectually stimulating, and lively courses to area residents. 

For questions about Essex Meadows and Arts & Exploration 2018, please email Amanda Reynolds: reynoldsa@essexmeadows.com or call (860) 767-4578 extension 5220. Space for each event is limited, so please register early. To receive email reminders about these and other events at Essex Meadows, be sure to provide your email address when you register.


March 29
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
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