After World War II, the prevalent self-image among America's white middle class was one of affluence, moral superiority, and contentment. This image is reflected in photographs in both advertising and the media during the late 1940s and 1950s showing perfect citizens and their families at work and at play. Many of these apparently candid photographs were in fact created by professional studio photographers-to portray the way most middle-class Americans wanted to present themselves. But what many contemporary artists and intellectuals saw instead of this idyllic picture was widespread complacency and conformity, as well as racism, poverty, political witch hunts, and alienation. Their writings are excerpted here, juxtaposed with images depicting domestic bliss and wealth. This dissonance between the words of the social critics who emphasized our problems and discontents and the photographic images of how we wanted to see ourselves make the subsequent upheavals of the 1960s understandable.
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(264mm x 224mm x 17mm)
WW Norton & Co
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Author Biography - Barbara Norfleet
Barbara Norfleet is founder and curator of the Photography Collection at Harvard University and an accomplished photographer. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.