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Richard Doty
IU Media Relations

John Bodnar
History Department

Last modified: Thursday, May 15, 2003

IU historian authors book on how films portray American working class

Hollywood's portrayal of working-class America since the 1930s is the topic of a new book by John Bodnar, Chancellor's Professor of History and chair of the History Department at Indiana University Bloomington.

Blue-Collar Hollywood: Liberalism, Democracy and Working People in American Film is the title of the 319-page book published by Johns Hopkins University Press. Topics covered include the role of censorship, attitudes toward labor unions and worker militancy, racism, the place of women in the workforce and society, and Communism and the Hollywood blacklist.

Films ranging from The Public Enemy in 1931 and The Grapes of Wrath in 1940 through Rocky in 1976 and Boyz N the Hood in 1991 are discussed as Bodnar depicts the lives, hopes and dreams of working-class Americans in the movies. Films from such eras as the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War and the Vietnam War are included among the more than 200 movies mentioned in the book.

Bodnar said the book is expected to interest social and cultural historians, sociologists, followers of the cinema and American studies, and the general public. "I am interested in how filmmakers addressed the American political tradition of liberalism (the individual) versus democracy (the community)," he said.

For more information, contact Bodnar at 812-855-3236 or