Gold Dust on the Air

Television Anthology Drama and Midcentury American Culture

Schneider Molly A. Schneider

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University of Texas Press img Link Publisher

Geisteswissenschaften, Kunst, Musik / Fotografie, Film, Video, TV


How mid-century television anthologies reflected and shaped US values and identities.From the late 1940s to the early 1960s, anthology dramas presented quality television programming in weekly stand-alone television plays meant to entertain and provide cultural uplift to American society. Programs such as Playhouse 90, Studio One, and The Twilight Zone became important emblems of American creative potential on television. But their propensity for addressing matters of major social concern also meant that they often courted controversy. Although the anthology s tenure would be brief, its importance in the television landscape would be great, and the ways the format negotiated ideas about Americanness at midcentury would be a crucial facet of its significance.In Gold Dust on the Air, Molly Schneider traces a cultural history of the Golden Age anthology, addressing topics such as the format s association with Method acting and debates about authentic American experience, its engagement with ideas about conformity in the context of Cold War pressures, and its depictions of war in a medium sponsored by defense contractors. Drawing on archival research, deep textual examination, and scholarship on both television history and broader American culture, Schneider posits the anthology series as a site of struggle over national meaning.

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