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

WPA Posters in an Aesthetic, Social, and Political Context
A New Deal for Design

ISBN 9781138544338
Published March 16, 2020 by Routledge
208 Pages 8 Color & 60 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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


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