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Frank Eugene Cruz

PhD Candidate, R&C Instructor
D29 Hearst Field Annex
Monday & Thursday 11-1 @ Cafe Milano
frankcruz@berkeley.edu


Specialties

Selected Publications and Papers Delivered

Cruz, Frank. "Let Them Eat Code (Or, Silicon Valley Goes to Hollywood)." Tiny Mix Tapes. 5 Nov. 2015. Web. <http://www.tinymixtapes.com/features/let-them-eat-code-or-silicon-valley-goes-hollywood>.

Cruz, Frank Eugene. ""In Between a Past and Future Town": Home, The Unhomely, and The Grapes of Wrath." Reprint. The Grapes of Wrath: A Re-Consideration, edited by Michael J. Meyer, Rodophi, vol. 1, 2009.

---. ""In Between a Past and Future Town": Home, The Unhomely, and The Grapes of Wrath." Steinbeck Review 4.2 (2007): 52-75. Project MUSE. <http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/steinbeck_review/v004/4.2.cruz.html>.

 

 



Current Research

My current research examines the historical roots and unexpected routes of John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath. I am interested in reconsidering the specific constellation of cultural production, as well as the historical moment, from which the novel emerged in the thirties as response to the “Okie exodus”. Steinbeck’s particular text and its depression era contexts, however, are only the starting points for my investigation into what one critic has evocatively called the "lowercase grapes of wrath narrative.” In Steinbeck’s formulation, this was a story of economic collapse and environmental catastrophe. It was a story about home and homelessness: foreclosures, evictions, and forced migration. His formulation considered poverty, suffering, and exploitation and at the same time, hope, perseverance, and social change through activism.

The majority of my research will consider the grapes of wrath narrative’s legacy and significance for the American popular imagination since 1939. I consider the The Grapes of Wrath’s earliest admirers and critics in the 1940s, whose first wave of response either re-imagined the narrative or attempted to subvert it as well as the "second wave" of cultural engagement with the lowercase grapes of wrath narrative in California's Central Valley in the 1970s. From cultural front of la causa, the UFW, and the fields of Delano, I pivot to the neoliberal globalization at the end of the twentieth century as I track both the lower- and uppercase narratives’ ghostly echoes and feedback loops through the “Great Recession” at the beginning of the new millennium. Finally, this investigation into how both grapes of wrath narratives function in the U.S. popular imagination will conclude at our still-contested, post-recession present moment—a moment one journalist has ironically dubbed the “Great Recovery.”

In what ways did the grapes of wrath narrative haunt the American cultural imagination in the second half of the twentieth century? In what ways might it still haunt us today in light of a number of uncanny returns: another crash on Wall Street, another “Great” economic crisis, a new season of environmental apocalypse, and another round of bankers with foreclosure notices in hand? If the twenty-first century reboot of hard times in the Golden State has shifted the setting from California’s Central Valley to the postmodern nowhere of Silicon Valley, and if the desperate masses now queue up for hours not at soup kitchens but instead at Apple Stores, is the “grapes of wrath” narrative still relevant? Does the U.S. popular imagination look elsewhere, or to other narratives, to resolve our current crises, to think through what has happened, and to imagine what will happen next?



Recent English Courses Taught