Wednesday, March 31, 7pm
W.M. Keck Lecture Hall
Intro by Wes Jones
Eric Avila received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in U.S. History from the University of California at Berkeley. Since 1997, he has taught Chicano Studies and History at U.C.L.A. and was promoted to associate professor in 2004. He is the author of Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight: Fear and Fantasy in Suburban Los Angeles, published by the University of California Press in 2004. He recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University, in the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History, where he began research for a second book project, entitled The Folklore of the Freeway: A Cultural History of Highway Construction.
By the 1920s, Downtown Los Angeles had become the "Great Gatsby of American cities," a magnet for Southern California's political, commercial, and cultural capital. The Great Depression of the 1930s, however, tempered this exuberance. By the 1940s, at the outset of the postwar suburban boom, Downtown L.A. had become the paragon of the Noir city: dark, dangerous, and distant from the periphery of suburban wealth. Avila revisits the predicament of Downtown L.A. during the post-World War II period, emphasizing the role of the culture - high and low - in the effort to recover its lost vitality and how the tension between the center and the periphery exemplifies the postwar urban history in the U.S.