History of Art


Stephanie Schwartz awarded a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship

3 May 2023

Stephanie Schwartz has been awarded a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship to complete ‘The Native and the National: Fascism and Film in the Era of the Deal’, a study of the work of the anti-fascist collective Frontier Films.

black and white photo of side profile of a white man

More specifically, Stephanie will take the collective’s final production, Native Land (1942), a feature-length film about the La Follette Civil Liberties Committee Hearings (1936-1941) on employer violations of the rights of workers to organise and bargain collectively, as a framework through which to rethink conventional accounts of the rise of fascism in the US. Central to her research will be a review of the claim that the reinvention of the nation in the wake of the Depression relied on the representation of a fascist enemy abroad.

In Stephanie’s research Native Land will be thought of less as the culmination or diminution of documentary film of the era, as is often argued, than as part of the broader reimagining of nativity in the late 1930s. Key here will be Langston Hughes’s poetic accounts of the nation’s ‘native’ fascism. Aligning fascism with established racial regimes, such as ‘Jim Crowism’ and ‘Ku Klux Klanism’, Hughes dispelled the assumption that fascism was either a European import or new. It was, he insisted, not only native but national. 

By reimaging the fight against fascism as a fight about the nation’s origins, Stephanie’s study will rethink the geography and temporality of the anti-fascisms of the New Deal era. It will also provide a historical context through which to consider recent nativist impulses and debates about the rise of fascism in the US today. In short, her research will argue that accounting for new or late fascism – as well as how to resist it – requires a historical and cultural analysis of its nativity.