RQ: Maher, “A New Deal Body Politic,” (435-61)
Keep the following questions in mind as you read Maher’s essay. The questions are designed to guide your reading practices and our class discussions. You are not required to provide formal answers in class or online.
Why does Maher open an essay about the history of the New Deal environmental conservation efforts with an anecdote?
What evidence does the “transformation of the landscape” provide of FDR’s New Deal?
What is the New Deal? What was Camp Roosevelt? What was the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC)? To what sorts of social conditions did these projects respond?
Why have historians paid less attention to the environmental history of the New Deal era than the Progressive and Post-WW II areas? How/Why does Maher propose to close this gap?
According to Maher, what did things did the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) reshape?
What is Maher’s overall argument? What sorts of assumptions does his argument challenge and why?
What are some successes of the CCC that Maher argues should be celebrated and imitated?
What are the downsides to the CCC that need to be avoided should the US embark on another ambitious labor/land project?
What conditions had to be met by the men who wanted to join the CCC?
Why did the CCC often undertake “conservation projects in forests, parks, and fields that could be completed with unskilled labor” (438)?
How did the CCC transform the men who participated? What where they like before? What sorts of social/environmental conditions shaped their psychology/physiology?
What sorts of “threats to masculinity” did the cities of the early 20th c. pose according to sources Maher cites such as CCC director, James McEntee, who Now They are Men? How did the CCC project position itself as a response to this perceived “crisis of masculinity”?
How did the “outdoor labor and psychical changes experienced by these same young men…also transform the politics of the American conservation movement” (446)?
What sorts of political criticism did the New Deal projects sustain? Specifically, why was the American left concerned that the CCC of “fomenting fascism” (448)? Why was the American right concerned that the CCC was un-American, or a “Bolshevik threat to the American political system” (448)?
How did the Roosevelt administration respond to these critiques? What did the administration argue was the “catalyst” an assimilation process?
How did New Deal projects like CCC transform the early American conservation movement?
Why did the CCC equate the bodies of enrollees with to the deterioration of the American natural resources brought about, in part, through the first phase of industrialization?