This web site explores the issues of narrative and representation in two New Deal cultural projects. Through the work of the Federal Writers' Project in Florida and photographs taken by the Farm Security Administration, I use the image of Florida to work out larger questions about a "nation of communities," documentary expression in the 1930s, and the politics of public history.
In conventional terms, the site is organized into four categories of material: musings on the logic of the Thirties to help you contextualize these cultural projects, an exploration of the Florida guidebook written by the FWP, an introduction to the photography of the FSA, and a study of jook joints, which brings together both sets of sources to mine some of Florida's rich cultural life.
of these sections, I have tried to build a network of links and cross-references
that undermine the conventional architecture, so that there isn't only
one framework for experiencing the site. You can, if you wish, simply
move through the material in the most immediately evident and linear way:
first familiarizing yourself with the context of the Thirties, then checking
out the history of the FWP guidebooks and FSA photography, then moving
to the "case study" of sorts that draws upon both these sources.
Your choices are, however, not intended to boil down to what order you
read chapters in. You can start where you like. You don't have to read
everything in one section before moving on to another.
This home page serves as an introduction to the project, but it is also somewhere you should return to for some other features of the site you might not want to start off with:
me at firstname.lastname@example.org
with any comments or criticism. I'm particularly interested in hearing
about how people read this project.
go to Delinda Buie at the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections,
University of Louisville, for her help and expression of support; Joyce
Dewsbury at the Archives and Visual Collections, University of Florida
Libraries, Gainesville, Florida, who solved a mystery; and John Owens
at Oxford University Press.
All materials reproduced on this site are credited to their sources, except for the "Contemporary Scene" essay and the map of Florida, which were originally published in Florida: A Guide to the Southernmost State, by Oxford University Press, in 1939 and are now in the public domain.