The Roots of Post-Racial Neoliberalism in Blacklist Era Hollywood

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The Roots of Post-Racial Neoliberalism in Blacklist Era Hollywood

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"The Roots of Post-Racial Neoliberalism in Blacklist Era Hollywood" explores the ways that the red scare in Hollywood in the 1940s and 1950s helped to transform the politics and culture of American liberalism. By analyzing the discourse of filmmakers, their critics, and that of the industry's films themselves, it argues that political contests surrounding the meanings of race, ethnicity, class, communism, and Americanness fostered the growth of a new libertarian discourse in the film industry. This libertarian language allowed victims of the entertainment industry blacklist to fight their marginalization by invoking the First Amendment, but it also helped to bring about a "post-racial," individualistic turn in postwar culture. This dissertation contributes new insights to the history of liberalism - how ideas about freedom were imagined and pursued - in the second half of the twentieth century. It contends that liberalism, as it was articulated in popular discourse, moved from a language centered around ideas of civil rights to one that centered around ideas of civil liberties. In the film industry in the 1950s, men and women who understood themselves to be on opposite sides of a culture war worked together to shape a common language of freedom. Hollywood thus became a key site in which a larger shift in liberal discourse took place.



University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. March 2014. Major: History. Advisors: Lary May, Tracey Deutsch. 1 computer file (PDF); ii, 292 pages.

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Paul, Andrew. (2014). The Roots of Post-Racial Neoliberalism in Blacklist Era Hollywood. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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