This exhibition seeks to describe one kind of American cultural landscape of the 1930s, the mental landscape many individuals carried around in their heads, placed there by the popular films, cartoons and comic strips, radio programs, and documentary works of the period. Each of the six contributing editors was asked to select one or more representative examples from each medium or genre and, in as economical a fashion possible, to indicate how each reflects the larger issues and concerns of the era.

The results are, as they say, both mixed and varied; the reader will, of course, have his or her own judgment about the relative success of each module of the exhibit. I'd point out that much of the real work is -- and is intended to be -- hidden, invisible in the ways that the work of selecting, editing, and synopsizing should be. And we hope the reader will return next year; this is only the first attempt to fill in this particular landscape; we'll add to it over the next few years, gradually developing it into a more complex and, we hope, more satisfying mosaic of daily life as it was articulated in the emerging mass media.

But I think the editors have made a fair beginning, often intelligent, subtle, and imaginative.


Alan B. Howard