Modern America:How did the Great Depression impact American culture?

Modern America:How did the Great Depression impact American culture?

You must then read your classmates’ responses. After you have read their responses, you must respond to TWO of your classmates by the last day of the academic week at 11:59 pm ET. These are called your PEER RESPONSES. Each Peer Response is worth 10 points and should be 100 words in length, which is equal to about 0.4 page of double-spaced writing in Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman 12 point font in a Word document.

Response 1

1. How did the Great Depression impact American culture? You can choose to focus on art, film, music or literature.

The Great Depression had a huge impact on American culture during the 1930s. Some looked back to a more traditional nostalgia rather than a more modernized era of media. As economic hardships persisted, a resurgence of interest in tradition and folk culture emerged. Collections of folk songs led by Alan Lomax and the rise of folk singers such as Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger were exemplified. Simultaneously, influential intellectuals critiqued the individualism of modern society, advocating for a return to agrarian values, as witnessed in the manifesto “I’ll Take My Stand” by the Southern Agrarians. 

In contrast to this emphasis on tradition, the era of the Great Depression also witnessed a notable surge in modernism across architecture and the arts. Pioneering American modern dance through Martha Graham and embracing experimental literature, with works like William Faulkner’s “stream-of-consciousness” novels and John Dos Passos’s avant-garde U.S.A. trilogy, the 1930s reflected a departure from conventional norms. The tension between tradition and future-oriented modernity was epitomized by events such as the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Amid societal anxieties, various forms of heroes emerged in popular culture, ranging from comic book superheroes like Superman and Batman to hard-boiled detectives featured in the works of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. The era left an indelible mark on American culture, fostering both unity and artistic expression as the nation grappled with unprecedented challenges.

Overall, there was a moderate split between modernization versus traditional sense. Often people choose to self-medicate themselves through music and art, depending on their situations of livelihood. Both thoughts had an influence on the modern age of media i.e. novels such as Grapes of Wrath, which is a more traditional book, versus Batman, which is now an international fictional icon.


Digital history. Accessed January 9, 2024. 


Stanford University Press. 2013. “23. The Great Depression | the AMERICAN YAWP.” June 7, 2013. 


Response 2

1. The Roosevelt administration believed that New Deal policy would offer relief to American people and prevent another depression. Who did these policies support? Who did they exclude?

The south was the primary beneficiary or target of the New Deal (Chapters, 2013). The south by all accounts had it worse than their counterparts in the northern states. To me it would seem as though the reconstruction era that followed the Civil War may not have repaired all it was intended to have. With the Great Depression in full swing, there needed to be projects and programs in place that Roosevelt could sell to not only the public, but to Congress as the answer or what some referred to as “an agent of God” (Chapters, 2013). While many would see government assistance as more of a government grab while others preferred to see a limited government approach or laissez-faire approach. The south also benefited with the advent of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)  in which hydroelectric dams would be built down and along the Tennessee River which was to give jobs to a battered region of poor residents (Chapter, 2013). While it seemed as though many programs were in place to help lift people out of poverty, there were those who were left behind or did not really benefit. Sure there was the creation of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA), there was little done to improve civil rights or really bring black Americans out of poverty. While the AAA enabled farm owners to take in profits as they had to leave the fields without crops in order to receive subsidies, this put black sharecroppers out of work (Agricultural Adjustment Act , n.d.). While well intentioned to increase the prices of certain crops and ensure farmers stayed afloat through subsidies, it failed in other ways. What did come out of it was the Soutern Farmers Tenant Association (SFTA) meant to bring awareness of the results of the New Deal (Sligh, 2021). Although meant to be temporary and the AAA struck down by the Supreme Court, we still pay through taxes via various farmer subsidies. The New Deal also failed the state and local governments to have more powers as many of the programs ended up being absorbed into the federal government. It is clear that the New Deal had its challenges and may not have fixed everything, but it was the right set of attempts to repair a failing economy at the time. 


Agricultural Adjustment Act . (n.d.). New Georgia Encyclopedia . Retrieved January 4, 2024, from 

Chapters, A. (2013, June 7). 23. The Great Depression | THE AMERICAN YAWP. 

Sligh, M. (2021, April 17). The New Deal’s Impacts on Sharecropping and Tenant Farming in the US South: A History. Disparity to Parity.