A Public Voice in the Modern World
This chapter investigates a group of writer-directors who came to believe that in the modern world, authentic communication had to reach a mass audience. Radio makes art a social force and the artist's voice relevant. In the late 1930s, many writers found in radio the opportunity to undertake a new and ambitious project. Archibald MacLeish was hardly the only writer concerned about the place of art and the artist's voice in the American society of the Depression era. Art for the public and art that took on public issues did not have to go hand in hand. In radio, writers found an ideal vehicle for their efforts to weigh varied perspectives. Politically minded, artistically ambitious writers like Norman Corwin and Arch Oboler could not express themselves fully on air. In the 1930s, the limits a mass-produced culture imposed upon artistic and political speech were real and, at times, very stark.
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