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Cold War ModernistsArt, Literature, and American Cultural Diplomacy$
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Greg Barnhisel

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231162302

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231162302.001.0001

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American Modernism in American Broadcasting

American Modernism in American Broadcasting

The Voice of (Middlebrow) America

(p.217) 6 American Modernism in American Broadcasting
Cold War Modernists

Greg Barnhisel

Columbia University Press

This chapter describes how official broadcasting framed American modernism for a broader, more popular audience than those targeted by the other projects described in this book. The Voice of America's (VOA) treatment of American modernism relied on the same arguments that characterize Cold War modernism in general but framed it very much as a middlebrow phenomenon, whose success derived from popular acclaim rather than from challenging or innovative techniques. As profiled on VOA, modernism's leading exemplars—Faulkner, Frank Lloyd Wright, Martha Graham, Alexander Calder—had endured initial public incomprehension and hostility but stuck to their individual visions and eventually won the public acclaim that they deserved. VOA also directly answered many of the Communist International's accusations about American racial segregation with arguments that the wise federal government was ensuring that this unfortunate regional practice would soon die out.

Keywords:   American modernism, Voice of America, VOA, Cold War modernism, radio broadcasting, Communist International

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