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Monday, 15 February 2016

Interview with Joe Street about His Recent Scholarship

Randall Stephens

The University of Florida Press has just published Senior Lecturer in History Joe Street's Dirty Harry's America: Clint Eastwood, Harry Callahan, and the Conservative Backlash.  In it Joe looks at the iconic antihero and asks what the popularity of the series reveals about modern America.  Dirty Harry's rogue conservatism, and machismo justice appealed to large sections of the American public.  The story also pointed to a powerful backlash against 1960s liberalism, the counterculture, and more.  The rise of Reagan-era conservatism, says Joe, owes something to this new, strident political reaction.

In Dirty Harry's America Joe writes of the 1971 film’s “representation of the counterculture, race, gender, and sexuality” that “must be approached within the context of recent San Francisco and national history. . .”(67)  At the same time Dirty Harry, Joe observes, “is far more complex than simple right-wing propaganda.”

I recently sat down with Joe to talk about why he wrote the book and how it fits into larger discussions about modern American culture.  Among other things, Joe comments on how the debates and skirmishes of two of America's most turbulent decades continue to shape the nation in powerful ways.

In the interview below Joe also discusses his more recent work on the Black Panther Party and the intersection of race and politics in the post-1960s United States.

 

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