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Professor Releases Book About 50s Culture and Ethnicity

An English professor at Oklahoma City University will release a book next month about how literature, TV, movies and magazines helped shape American culture and ethnic perceptions in the 1950s.

Professor Tracy Floreani’s book, titled “Fifties Ethnicities: The Ethnic Novel and Mass Culture at Midcentury,” will be released in November by SUNY Press.

Floreani examines the relationship between the mass media and attitudes toward ethnic identity. Using comparative readings of novels and mass media narratives, Floreani explores the ways in which ethnic minority writers helped to define ethnicity and American identity through their characters.

“When I started working on this project, people kept saying, jokingly, ‘There was ethnicity in the '50s?’ Our collective nostalgia about the period has been shaped by television, movie, and advertising images that featured white faces. So I was interested in how ethnic minority writers used novels to respond to this mass media argument that to be included in the American image, one had to be white.”

Floreani teaches American literature, ethnic literature and writing at Oklahoma City University. She studies cultural relationships, how national identities evolve over time, how race and ethnicity fit within national narratives and how artists convey what it means to be American. Floreani is chairwoman of the Ralph Ellison Centennial steering committee, which is currently hosting events to celebrate the 100th birthday of the iconic Oklahoman writer.

For more information or to purchase a copy of “Fifties Ethnicities,” visit the book’s page on the publisher’s website at