The Benefit to American Literature


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Photo: caption follows

Bethlehem-Fairfield shipyards, Baltimore, Maryland. May 1943. Lunch time. Arthur Siegel. Photograph, 1943. (LC-USW3-23627-E).

Although Federal Writers were not supposed to do their own creative work on Project time, many found that the Writers' Project experience offered considerably more than a meal ticket. Benjamin Botkin regarded the life history narratives as "the stuff of literature" and he expected Federal Writers to draw on them as raw material. No fan of "ivory tower writing," he shared the desire of literary realists to move "the streets, the stockyards, and the hiring halls into literature."


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