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In the mainstream American imagination, the 1950s were an era of conformity when women strove to be perfect middle-class suburban housewives A la June Cleaver. But in reality, the 1950s were the decade of "The Kinsey Report" and "The Bell Jar," of Cold War Communists and civil rights activism, and change for women.
In this engaging collection, cultural commentators explore the 1950s from the center to the margins-from Norman Mailer to "Peyton Place," from suburban porn to Patricia Highsmith, and from Soviet women to lesbians in post-Nazi Berlin. Fascinating reviews and interviews include Alicia Ostriker on Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, Diane Wood Middlebrook on Willem De Kooning, and Ivy Meeropol on her documentary about her grandparents Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.
Introduction; Liberal Antiliberalism: Mailer, O'Connor, and the Gender Politics of Middle-Class Ressentiment; The Accidental Blockbuster: Peyton Place in Literary and Institutional Context; A Traveller in Residence: Maeve Brennan and the Last Days of New York; Lost in Adaptation: Chicana History, the Cold war, and the Case of Josephina Niggli; Angels in the Home and at Work: Russian Women in the Khrushchev Years; Mexico in the Fifties: Women and Church in Holy Alliance; A New Kind of Missionary Work: Christians, Christian Americanists, and the Adoption of Korean GI Babies, 1955-1961; Stronger, Smarter, Less Queer: "The White Negro" and Mailer's Third Man; Patriotic Perversions: Patricia Highsmith's Queer Vision of Cold War America in The Price of Salt, The Blunderer, and Deep Water; American Iconoclast: Carmen Jones and the Revolutionary Divadom of Dorothy Dandridge; "The Game Show": An Excerpt from BOOMING: A Millennial Memoir; Kinsey, Sex Research, and the Body of Knowledge: Let's Talk About Sex; The Chicago Poetry Group: African American Art and High Modernism at Midcentury; Fifty Years After; When Sex Became Gender: Mirra Komarovsky's Feminism of the 1950s; Review: Our Kind: A Novel in Stories, by Kate Walbert; Ariel and After. Review: Ariel: The Restored Edition; Review: Beyond the Gray Flannel Suit, by David Castronovo; What Did Women Want? Review: De Kooning: An American Master; Review: Cold War Orientalism: Asia in the Middlebrow Imagination, 1945-1961, by Christina Klein, and American Theatre in the Culture of the Cold War: Producing and Contesting Containment, 1947-1962; Alerts and Provocations: A Feminist Public Sphere for Debate and Action.
Deborah Nelson is the author of Pursuing Privacy In Cold War America. She is Associate Professor of English at the University of Chicago. Nancy K. Miller, a new General Editor of WSQ, is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the Graduate Center, CUNY. Her books include But Enough About Me: Why We Read About Other People's Lives. Cindi Katz, a new General Editor of WSQ, is Professor of Environmental Psychology at the Graduate Center, CUNY, and author of Full Circles: A Geography Of Women.