Chapter

The Voice of America in Richard Wright’s <i>Lawd Today!</i>

Jonah Willihnganz

in Broadcasting Modernism

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print June 2009 | ISBN: 9780813033495
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813038315 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5744/florida/9780813033495.003.0008
The Voice of America in Richard Wright’s Lawd Today!

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In the late 1930s, nearly everyone owned a radio. The radio helped create mass-market culture and established a new medium of power, a medium of disembodied speech and sound that, for many, seemed godlike and capable of literally hypnotizing the country. Another reason American literature's engagement with radio is important is that it records what many sensed was happening to the human voice. This chapter focuses on how one novel in particular, Richard Wright's Lawd Today!, figures radio in this way. Radio proves a powerful emblem for Wright, giving him a way to express the particular kinds of disempowerment experienced by blacks living in the urban North of the United States. This chapter claims that Lawd Today! makes the experience of radio emblematic of the patterning of cultural power by aligning it with the experiences of fascism and racism in the 1930s.

Keywords: American radio; urban North; cultural power; racism; fascism; human voice

Chapter.  8012 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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