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Social Responsibility

Writers throughout American History have played a pivotal role in calling for social justice. The period between 1918 and 1945 was no different. The increasing diversity of published writers meant that readers could explore changing attitudes about race, gender, and sexuality through the work of Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, Gertrude Stein and others.

During the Great Depression, writers like John Steinbeck, James Agee, James T. Farrell, and Erskine Caldwell gave voice to the unemployed and working poor. Others, such as John Dos Passos and Edmund Wilson, critiqued the social and economic forces behind the financial crisis. Some, like Jack Conroy, espoused socialist ideals as an antidote to capitalist problems. Their work raised questions about American values and beliefs that continue to resonate today.