Berkeley English Lecturers and Postdocs

Frank Eugene Cruz

Frank Eugene Cruz


M/W 10:30-11:30 & By Appt

Selected Publications and Papers Delivered

Cruz, Frank Eugene. "This Machine Kills Fascists: Anti-Fascist Resistance and American Popular Music from Woody Guthrie to Run the Jewels," article to be submitted to American Quarterly.

---. "Culture in Crisis: The Grapes of Wrath Cultural Formation from the Great Depression to the Green New Deal." Diss. U of California, Berkeley, 2020. Print.

Cruz, Frank. "Let Them Eat Code (Or, Silicon Valley Goes to Hollywood)." Tiny Mix Tapes, 5 Nov. 2015

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, 2009.

---. ""In Between a Past and Future Town": Home, The Unhomely, and The Grapes of Wrath." Steinbeck Review, vol. 4 no. 2, 2007, pp. 52-75.

Current Research

Frank Eugene Cruz holds a BA, MA, and PhD in English from UC Berkeley, where he is currently a Berkeley Lecturer and Berkeley Connect mentor in the English department.

Cruz' dissertation, Culture in Crisis: The Grapes of Wrath Cultural Formation from the Great Depression to the Green New Deal, explores the emergence of the grapes of wrath cultural formation during the Great Depression in order to unravel contradictions between popular culture forms, the democratic liberal state, and capitalist ideology. It analyzes popular culture texts by John Steinbeck, Américo Paredes, Gregg Toland, and Hugh Hammond Bennett, among others, that map all too familiar social locations of crisis: economic collapse, ecological catastrophe, and racial anxiety. The project analyzes the grapes of wrath cultural formation’s bestselling novels and recovered literary texts, its Hollywood blockbusters and state-sponsored documentaries, its popular-press photography, journalism, and lost government archives. Culture in Crisis assert that popular culture’s overwhelming response to the Dust Bowl eco-crisis and the mass migration it produced during the Great Depression in fact established a major cultural formation in the American popular imagination that previous scholars have overlooked or misread. By combining insights from cultural studies, literary theory, and subaltern studies, this project maps the radical edge of the 1930’s popular imagination. 

This investigation also demonstrates that the grapes of wrath cultural formation did not die at the end of the Great Depression, but has continued to occupy and unsettle the US popular imagination of crisis diachronically over the past eighty years, ultimately uncovering the US cultural imagination’s twenty-first century return to the aesthetic forms and social locations of the Great Depression’s grapes of wrath cultural formation. The apocalyptic environmental crisis of the Dust Bowl has been scaled up to the apocalypse always of twenty-first century climate change. The logic of neoliberalism and late capital have normalized catastrophic economic collapse and facilitated billion-dollar corporate welfare packages, even as both logics continue to dismantle the social safety net originally established by the New Deal. The Dust Bowl’s racialized crisis of migratory labor in California’s factories in the field (which was met in the 1930s with reactionary vigilante violence and homegrown “Gunkist” fascism in the Golden State) has grown to monstrous proportions and produced horrifying results, ultimately creating migrant concentration camps in the US-Mexico Borderlands. By connecting the Great Depression, the Great Recession, contemporary migrant struggles in the Borderlands, and the Green New Deal through the texts and discourses of Christopher Nolan, SpaceX, and Adam McKay, Culture in Crisis reads popular culture symptomatically from Steinbeck’s age to our own as evidence of unhealed wounds on the body-politic of the nation in order to reclaim popular culture as a potential site of resistance against our present, late capitalist event horizon of permanent crisis.

In addition to his dissertation work, Cruz is also developing two screenplays: a literary biopic of John Steinbeck's rise and fall during the Great Depression and a screen adaptation of William Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! as a filmic counternarrative to the popular Civil War mythology of moonlight and magnolias represented by films like Gone With the Wind. Dr. Cruz' second book-length academic project is tentatively titled Strange Ecologies in Aztlán: Revisioning the Borderlands for the Age of the Anthropocene. 

Frank was raised in Oxnard, California. He is a Pisces, a father of three, a rock and roll singer, and the founder of the Zachary Michael Cruz Foundation and Memorial Scholarship at Cal, and, a road safety advocacy group.

English Department Classes