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State of the Union: the play, the film, and the progress of the isolationist bogey

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State of the Union, Cold War political culture, postwar internationalism, isolationists, American political system, Cold War rhetoric, immediate postwar period

Abstract (summary)

This article argues that the adaptation of the play State of the Union into a film made the changes to the original that were necessary in a rapidly developing Cold War political culture. Helpful in this project was the way in which a Cold War culture had borrowed from an earlier form of postwar internationalism. In particular, it appropriated the demonization of isolationists as breeders of a corrupt domestic American political system that threatened republicanism and world peace alike. Indeed, the continuity in the representation of isolationists in the immediate postwar period of the play and the very different period of the film helped to lend legitimacy to the otherwise new Cold War rhetoric. The film, therefore, was able to make only minor revisions to the play and yet serve entirely different ideological purposes.

Publication Information

Grant, David. “State of the Union: The Play, the Film, and the Progress of the Isolationist Bogey.” Journal of American Studies, vol. 50, no. 4, Nov. 2016, pp. 1021–11038. America: History and Life with Full Text, doi:10.1017/S0021875815001231.


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