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What were the pop culture trends during WWII?

John Eilermann. The Second World War changed the lives of millions of people all over the world. In the US, almost everything was about the war– from entertainment, fashion, and even food. Though sports became the public’s temporary escape, many athletes especially in baseball chose to serve the country. Check out this list of the most popular trends during the 40’s:

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Radio became a source of news and entertainment

John Eilermann. Before television and the internet, people relied on radio for their daily fix of news updates and entertainment. For families who were unable to go out of their homes, the radio shows were a way to keep themselves connected to the outside world. The music, the talk shows, and the dramas keep the listeners occupied. Whether the kids were studying or the adults were doing the chores, everyone was tuning in to their radios.

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Knitting for solidarity

In the US and in Britain, women turned to knitting. Aside from providing the soldiers with clothing that will keep them warm while they were far from home, the craft became an activity that allowed women to stay occupied during those troubled years. While there was a shortage in materials and manpower used for clothing, knitting became the solution. Instead of shelling out money to buy clothes, many turned to knitted garments during this era. Many knitting kits also featured patriotic patterns and colors, letting knitters know that they’re making a big contribution to the war effort. John Eilermann.

Smoking cigarettes

During the war, cigarettes were given to soldiers to ease their anxiety. Even after their conscription, soldiers continued to smoke. For those who remained home, the cigarettes were also a way for them to relax after a long day at work. While women were discouraged from smoking, a growing number already picked up the habit which led some brands to consider them for their advertisements. During this era, smoking cigarettes became somewhat therapeutic to many. John Eilermann.

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How did WWII impact vehicle designs?

The end of World War II reignited several American industries including automotive. During the war, factories were churning out tanks, jeeps, and planes. All production of cars and trucks were halted. But after the war, the automotive industry received huge demand for new cars. According to World War II enthusiast John Eilermann, it was this surge, as well as working on military-grade vehicles, enabled the industry to come up with new innovation that would change the industry. Here are some examples of how WWII impacted vehicle designs for the automotive industry.

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Power steering: Tanks, as well as other heavily armored vehicles, required assisted steering for them to be driven with better control. Although the technology has been around since the 1920s, it was Chrysler who first introduced power steering in a commercially available vehicle. The original model was called the Imperial, which then ushered the way for the Cadillac which was released a year after the Imperial.

High performance cars using fuel injection: The technology was always there since the dawn of the combustible engine, but it was aircraft engines that utilized mechanical fuel injection to fly in higher altitudes. Later on, the same technology was brought to the automotive industry. Fuel injection setups became a staple in the racing world and was first made commercially available by Chevrolet in their 1957 Chevy 283 V8.

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ABS brakes: Antilock brakes are common in today’s vehicles, but it wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for British bomber aircrafts. According to John Eilermann, the technology originally measured the rotational speed of the plane’s landing gear and prevented the wheels from locking and skidding.

John Eilermann lives in Chicago and is mostly fixated on baseball and soccer. He is also deeply interested in World War II facts and memorabilia. Learn more about Mr. Eilermann and his hobbies by visiting this page.

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Why context is important in studying literature

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Many students reading the course objectives on their own or with their professors during the first day of literature classes tend to dismiss the overarching importance of context.  It is a key aspect of learning literature, apart from studying craft and style and making elaborate guesses on that elusive meaning or insight.

It’s often a clear understanding of context that allows great literature to truly open up to us, as well as be both effective and affective.  As we accept that a writer’s socio-political, economic, and even simple geographical situations play a huge part in the power and impact of a literary piece, the richer our experience of the work becomes.

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It all boils down to interdisciplinarity.  No literary work exists without being driven by the writer’s context.  And context is informed by such factors as history, setting, and political climate.  For example, the Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet Pablo Neruda is not merely a writer of love sonnets, but a former senator and exiled writer.  His works display a huge shift from the romantic notions of his childhood years to deeply human musings on poverty, displacement, and the plight of the maltreated, which manifest in latter collections like Canto General.

All in all, if literature is to be best understood, students must go beyond a pure analysis of craft and content.  While these are universal concerns, it’s equally important to know where one work is literally and figuratively coming from, as context ultimately makes any critique of the piece more generous and complete.

Hello, I’m John Eilermann, a St. Louis, Missouri-based student currently pursuing a degree in Comparative Literature.  The cross-disciplinary approach of the program enables students to take courses in philosophy, politics, and culture, while intersecting literature with history.  More of my writings here.