WPA Posters in an Aesthetic, Social, and Political Context: A New Deal for Design, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

WPA Posters in an Aesthetic, Social, and Political Context

A New Deal for Design, 1st Edition

By Cory Pillen


232 pages | 8 Color Illus. | 60 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781138544338
pub: 2020-03-30
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This book examines posters produced by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a federal relief program designed to create jobs in the United States during the Great Depression.

Cory Pillen focuses on several issues addressed repeatedly in the roughly 2,200 extant WPA posters created between 1935 and 1943: recreation and leisure, conservation, health and disease, and public housing. As the book shows, the posters promote specific forms of knowledge and literacy as solutions to contemporary social concerns. The varied issues these works engage and the ideals they endorse, however, would have resonated in complex ways with the posters’ diverse viewing public, working both for and against the rhetoric of consensus employed by New Deal agencies in defining and managing the relationship between self and society in modern America.

This book will be of interest to scholars in design history, art history, and American studies.

Table of Contents


1. The World Wants New Knowledge and Skills

2. The Art of Reading

3. Posters, Preservation, and Ecological Blindness

4. Marching on To Health

5. One Third of a Nation - Ill-Housed


About the Author

Cory Pillen is Assistant Professor in the Department of Art & Design at Fort Lewis College.

About the Series

Routledge Research in Art and Politics

Routledge Research in Art and Politics is a new series focusing on politics and government as examined by scholars working in the fields of art history and visual studies. Proposals for monographs and edited collections on this topic are welcomed.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / History / General
ART / American / General
ART / History / Modern (late 19th Century to 1945)
ART / Popular Culture
ART / Art & Politics
HISTORY / United States / 20th Century
HISTORY / Modern / 20th Century
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Popular Culture
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / Urban
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Poverty & Homelessness
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Disease & Health Issues