Rediscovering America: The FWP Legacy and Challenge

Jerrold Hirsch


An overview of the history of the Federal Writers' Project, hitting on critical reference points for our vision of what the project might look like today: the 1930s’ FWP’s cross-disciplinary integration of literature and history; the rejection of strict divisions between high and low culture; and the bottom-up approach to history that had begun profoundly to influence the discipline of history by the 1970s, embracing previously excluded groups, and gave rise to new sub-disciplines of oral history and public history.  Ends with reflections on key questions those of us hoping to see a version of FWP today, many of the very same questions challenges faced by FWP in its first iteration. 

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Publication of the Community Literacy Journal is made possible through the generous support of the English Department and the Writing and Rhetoric Program at Florida International University. The CLJ is a journal of the Conference on Community Writing.