Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


American Studies

Reader 1

Skyler Reidy

Reader 2

Warren Liu


John Steinbeck’s 1945 work Cannery Row is set during the Great Depression, a time of economic crisis in the United States. During the period, there was incredible job loss, with men largely losing their positions first, and their wives, daughters, and sisters shouldering fiscal responsibilities. This shift challenged the American conflation of masculinity and a man’s ability to provide for his family. In response, President Franklin D. Roosevelt prioritized getting white men back to work through New Deal legislation, and portraying men as traditionally masculine in Public Works of Art Project artwork and Farm Security Administration photographs, resulting in the erasure of women’s significant roles in the period. The project examines whether John Steinbeck accurately illustrates gender during the Great Depression in Cannery Row, or if the novel reflects the New Dealers’ depiction of white men as physically strong, hard working fathers and husbands. Upon concluding that his portrayal closely parallels the artwork, the project calls into question the lasting effects of the erasure of women from Depression-era media.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.