A Town Without Steel: Envisioning Homestead

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9780822956761: A Town Without Steel: Envisioning Homestead

In 1986, with little warning, the USX Homestead Works closed. Thousands of workers who depended on steel to survive were left without work. A Town Without Steel looks at the people of Homestead as they reinvent their views of household and work and place in this world.  The book details the modifications and revisions of domestic strategies in a public crisis.  In some ways unique, and in some ways typical of American industrial towns, the plight of Homestead sheds light on social, cultural, and political developments of the late twentieth century.  

In this anthropological and photographic account of a town facing the crisis of deindustrialization, A Town Without Steel focuses on families.  Reminiscent of Margaret Byington and Lewis Hine’s approach in Homestead,  Charlee Brodsky’s photographs document the visual dimension of change in Homestead.  The mill that dominated the landscape transformed to a vast, empty lot; a crowded commercial street turns into a ghost town; and an abundance of well-kept homes become an abandoned street of houses for sale.  The individual narratives and family snapshots, Modell’s interpretations, and Brodsky’s photographs all evoke the tragedy and the resilience of a town whose primary source of self-identification no longer exists.   

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Review:

In the tradition of Walker Evans and James Agee, who depicted the ravaging effects of the Great Depression in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, anthropologist Judith Modell and photographer Charlee Brodsky combine words and images to document the heroism of ordinary people in the face of disaster. They take as their subject the closing of one of the world's most famous and productive steel mills, the Homestead Works, once the main employer of the people of Homestead, Pennsylvania.

Documented at the turn of the century by Margaret Byington and Lewis Hine in Homestead: The Households of a Mill Town, this town seven miles from Pittsburgh was "cluttered, crowded, smoky," and thriving. In townspeople's reminiscences, Modell hears the rough stories of mill work forged into near myth: "Like Paul Bunyan tales, these were tales of extremes: the heat, the size of machinery, the endless hours, the flaring tempers." By the late 1980s, citizens were nostalgic for the sooty skies that meant prosperity. "Once people were buying T-bone steaks," comments a disappointed shopkeeper, "and now they're buying jumbo [bologna]." Brodsky's photos record the dismantling of town life. Her images of the mill--demolished iron works and quiet smokestacks, the blackened bones of a factory raw and empty in the bright postindustrial sunlight--convey Homestead's painful idleness. Modell doesn't retreat from this state of affairs, but neither does she allow it to stand alone. She elicits from her subjects stories that include the work of women, the joy of weddings and births, and the traditions of the town's many ethnic groups. In these non-mill stories, Modell finds a source of hope. "Residents recreated a core of life apart from steel," she explains in closing, and "upon this core, a new community can be imagined." --Maria Dolan

About the Author:

Judith Modell is professor of anthropology, history, and art at Carnegie Mellon University.  She is the author of Ruth Benedict and Kinship with Strangers, as well as a number of theoretical and methodological articles.

Charlee Brodsky is associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University in the School of Design, where she teaches photography.  She has received two Pennsylvania Council on the Arts’ Individual Fellowships, one in 1992 to document Homestead.  She has also curated numerous exhibitions dealing with the history of photography in western Pennsylvania at The Museum of Art at the Carnegie.  She is the author, with Linda Benedict- Jones, of Pittsburgh Revealed:  Photographs Since 1850.

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Judith Modell; Charlee Brodsky (Photographer)
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Descrizione libro University of Pittsburgh Press, United States, 1998. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. New.. Language: English . Brand New Book. In 1986, with little warning, the USX Homestead Works closed. Thousands of workers who depended on steel to survive were left without work. A Town Without Steel looks at the people of Homestead as they reinvent their views of the home and the workplace, and details the modifications and revisions of domestic strategies in a public crisis. In some ways unique, and in some ways typical of other American industrial towns, the plight of Homestead sheds light on social, cultural, and political developments of the late twentieth century. Judith Modell has interviewed forty-five men and women - an array of voices and opinions that reflect the ways in which the mill closing affected the town across age, gender, and racial lines. Charlee Brodsky s photographs serve to document the visual dimension of change in Homestead. Codice libro della libreria AAN9780822956761

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Descrizione libro University of Pittsburgh Press, United States, 1998. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. New.. Language: English . Brand New Book. In 1986, with little warning, the USX Homestead Works closed. Thousands of workers who depended on steel to survive were left without work. A Town Without Steel looks at the people of Homestead as they reinvent their views of the home and the workplace, and details the modifications and revisions of domestic strategies in a public crisis. In some ways unique, and in some ways typical of other American industrial towns, the plight of Homestead sheds light on social, cultural, and political developments of the late twentieth century. Judith Modell has interviewed forty-five men and women - an array of voices and opinions that reflect the ways in which the mill closing affected the town across age, gender, and racial lines. Charlee Brodsky s photographs serve to document the visual dimension of change in Homestead. Codice libro della libreria AAN9780822956761

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Descrizione libro University of Pittsburgh Press, United States, 1998. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. New.. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. In 1986, with little warning, the USX Homestead Works closed. Thousands of workers who depended on steel to survive were left without work. A Town Without Steel looks at the people of Homestead as they reinvent their views of the home and the workplace, and details the modifications and revisions of domestic strategies in a public crisis. In some ways unique, and in some ways typical of other American industrial towns, the plight of Homestead sheds light on social, cultural, and political developments of the late twentieth century. Judith Modell has interviewed forty-five men and women - an array of voices and opinions that reflect the ways in which the mill closing affected the town across age, gender, and racial lines. Charlee Brodsky s photographs serve to document the visual dimension of change in Homestead. Codice libro della libreria BTE9780822956761

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