Discussion of “Normality” this week – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Discussion of “Normality” this week

Join Assistant Professor of English Anna Creadick for a presentation and discussion on her forthcoming book, “Perfectly Average: The Pursuit of Normality in Postwar America” (University of Massachusetts Press, anticipated summer 2010). Creadick will present her argument about “normality” in the mid-20th century and reveal key aspects of her study. 

Creadick describes “Perfectly Average” as an investigation of “how and why ‘normality’ re-emerged as a potent homogenizing category of postwar U.S. culture.”  By the end of World War II, Americans needed a return to “normal” after years of war and depression, she explains.  That became almost an obsession and the category of normality formed in almost every aspect of life.  “Perfectly Average: The Pursuit of Normality in Postwar America” uses compelling evidence such as the “Norm and Norma” models, the Norma look-a-like contest in Ohio and the “Harvard Study of Normal Men” to convey normality was cast not as something innate or inborn, but rather as a quality to be actively pursued. 

In authoring this book, Creadick takes on a subject that hasn’t largely been seen as a topic of historical inquiry and argues, “In post-war decades, normality was highly seductive and impossible to reach because it meant becoming perfectly average.”  She asks the reader to question whether  normal was “Descriptive of an average or prescriptive of an ideal.”

Creadick joined the English Department in 2001 and now teaches a variety of courses such as Southern Fictions, American Literature from Crane, Post-WWII American Novel, Sexuality and American Literature, Cultural Theory, and Popular Fiction.  She earned her undergraduate degree in English and Education from Appalachian State University, her master’s degree in American Studies from Boston College and her Ph.D. in English/American Studies from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.  She brings an interdisciplinary and historic approach to the study of literary texts. Her current research areas are 20th century U.S. literature and culture, Post World War II period (1940s-1960s), Southern and Appalachian Studies, and Gender and Sexuality.  Creadick has had multiple articles published on a variety of topics.

The discussion of “Perfectly Average: The Pursuit of Normality in Postwar America” will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 4, at 4:30 p.m., in Demarest 117B. The book is expected to be available by summer of 2010.