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Maximum Feasible ParticipationAmerican Literature and the War on Poverty$
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Stephen Schryer

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781503603677

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9781503603677.001.0001

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Maximum Feasible Participation

(p.1) Introduction
Maximum Feasible Participation

Stephen Schryer

Stanford University Press

Focusing on the African American poet and playwright Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones), the Introduction explores links between 1950s and 1960s process literature and the Community Action Program. Baraka’s Black Arts Repertory Theatre and School (BARTS) was funded through the War on Poverty, and his version of process art fulfilled the participatory requirements of the Community Action Program. Both Baraka and many welfare activists allied with the Community Action Program also drew on a binary conception of class culture popularized by the post–World War II counterculture and liberal social science. This binary conception produced two figures that alternately incited and frustrated literary and social work efforts to bridge the gap between the middle class and the poor: the juvenile delinquent and the welfare mother.

Keywords:   Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones), War on Poverty, Community Action Program, Black Arts movement, process art, culture of poverty, juvenile delinquency, welfare mothers

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