Has Great Depression Chic Jumped the Shark?

Recent economic hardships have made the Great Depression something of a cultural hot topic. Is that making the economy worse?

It’s hard to believe that in a world where the average person can watch a movie on their handheld phone, so many people would be referencing the Great Depression, but that dismal time is seeing something of a pop culture renaissance.


Perhaps the most enduring portrayal of the period, John Steinbeck’s the Grapes of Wrath, has seen constant reinventions over the years. And now, in the most ambitious retelling of the classic dustbowl tale, the University of Houston’s Moores Opera Center recently premiered an opera based on the Steinbeck classic, complete with original score. Meanwhile, Our Town, the 1938 Thornton Wilder’s classic play that reminded Americans of their pre-Depression resilience, has suddenly become a hot theatrical property. February saw off-Broadway productions of the play in New York and Chicago and the end of April will see a production in California starring David Schwimmer.

High school curriculums, which have always included the Great Depression, have amped up their study with students suddenly growing increasingly curious about the era. Following that lead, Nova Southeastern University in Florida is hosting Soul of the People, a series of Depression-themed exhibits, performances, and lectures running through the month and part of May.

Perhaps most important is the sudden appreciation for the people that actually lived through the Great Depression. While every senior citizen who lived through the period has auspiciously been approached by every news outlet within earshot, the New York Times has launched an impressive compilation of these Americans’ stories. Entitled the New Hard Times, the site features the stories of countless seniors while also including reader submissions. One scan of these stories and most Americans should realize that they’ve come back from worse.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Think you’re bad at math? You may suffer from ‘math trauma’

Even some teachers suffer from anxiety about math.

Image credit: Getty Images
Mind & Brain

I teach people how to teach math, and I've been working in this field for 30 years. Across those decades, I've met many people who suffer from varying degrees of math trauma – a form of debilitating mental shutdown when it comes to doing mathematics.

Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

How KGB founder Iron Felix justified terror and mass executions

The legacy of Felix Dzerzhinsky, who led Soviet secret police in the "Red Terror," still confounds Russia.

Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Felix Dzerzhinsky led the Cheka, Soviet Union's first secret police.
  • The Cheka was infamous for executing thousands during the Red Terror of 1918.
  • The Cheka later became the KGB, the spy organization where Russia's President Putin served for years.
Keep reading Show less