“Reach the millions!”: political pamphlets and the American Communist Movement 1917-1945

Collins, Jodie (2022) “Reach the millions!”: political pamphlets and the American Communist Movement 1917-1945. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Pamphlets have for centuries been a popular medium through which rebellious and subversive ideas could be disseminated to the masses, yet the role of pamphlets in modern society has been under-appreciated by scholars. As this thesis will demonstrate, there exists a wealth of pamphlet material produced and distributed in interwar America which offers particular insight into pamphleteering as a medium for political activism, education and dialogue.

As well as tracing the historical development of the pamphlet from the invention of the printing press, this thesis examines the thousands of pamphlets produced between 1917 and 1945 by the communist movement as well as by those who fought to counter the influence of communism in America. By looking particularly through the lens of the pamphlets of the Communist Party of America in particular, the thesis assesses how the Party grappled with the concept of ‘Americanism’ and the influence of the Soviet Union. It explores how the Party's changing policies were conveyed to both members and the American public through these pamphlets, and how they impacted the wider radical movements such as the women’s and black liberation movement. Conversely, the thesis’ examination of the pamphlets of anti-communist organisations offers us a new perspective into the ideologies and tactics of those fighting radicalism.

This close examination of the vast range of political pamphlets produced during this period offers a wider and new insights into the broader political and social developments during the polarised inter-war years in American history while also highlighting the continuities with earlier historical periods in the role and purpose of the pamphlet form itself.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Arts and Humanities > American Studies
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HX Socialism. Communism. Anarchism > HX0080 By region or country - America - general works > HX0083 United States - History
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 27 Jun 2022 08:40
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2022 08:40
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/106656

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