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The Flood Year 1927A Cultural History$
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Susan Scott Parrish

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691168838

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691168838.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
The Flood Year 1927

Susan Scott Parrish

Princeton University Press

This introductory chapter discusses the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. It argues that although historians have uncovered the details of what caused the flood to unfold the way it did, less work has been done to explain how, what was arguably the most publicly consuming environmental catastrophe of the twentieth century in the United States, assumed public meaning. The chapter then sets out the book's purpose, which is to explore how this disaster took on form and meaning as it was nationally and internationally represented across multiple media platforms, both while the flood moved inexorably southward and, subsequently, over the next two decades. The book begins by looking at the social and environmental causes of the disaster, and by briefly describing the sociological certitudes of the 1920s into which it broke. It then investigates how this disaster went public, and made publics, as it was mediated through newspapers, radio, blues songs, and theater benefits. Finally, it looks at how the flood comprises an important chapter in the history of literary modernism.

Keywords:   Great Mississippi Flood, river flood, United States, environmental disasters, public meaning, literary modernism

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