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Chapter 21: The Roaring Life of the 1920s

Americans confront changes in society as women enter new roles and the mass media
gains a growing audience. The Harlem Renaissance signals the flourishing of AfricanAmerican culture.
21.1: Changing Ways of Life
21.2: The Twenties Woman
21.3: Education and Popular Culture
21.4: The Harlem Renaissance
21.1: Changing Ways of Life
Americans experience cultural conflicts as customs and values change in the 1920s.
I.

Rural and Urban Differences


A. Americans continue to populate cities more than rural areas
1. 1920 census: 51.2% of Americans in communities of 2,500 or more
2. 19221929, nearly 2 million people leave farms, towns each year
B. The New Urban Scene
1. Largest cities are New York, Chicago, Philadelphia
a. 65 other cities with 100,000 people or more
2. In 1920s, people caught between labels of rural, urban cultures
a. R-close ties, hard work, strict morals
b. U-anonymity, moneymaking, pleasure seeking
3. Continued Rural and Urban Differences
C. The Prohibition Experiment--18th Amendment, 1/20
1. supported by religious groups, rural South, West
2. Prohibitionproduction, sale, transportation of alcohol illegal
3. Government does not budget enough money to enforce the law, many
officials uninspired by movement
D. Speakeasies and Bootleggers
1. Speakeasies (hidden saloons, nightclubs) become fashionable
2. People distill liquor, buy prescription alcohol, sacramental wine
3. Bootleggers smuggle alcohol from surrounding countries
E. Rise of Organized Crime
1. Prohibition contributes to organized crime in major cities as law
cannot prevent desire for alcohol
2. Al Capone controls Chicago liquor business by killing competitors
3. By mid-1920s, only 19% support Prohibition
4. 18th Amendment in force until 1933; repealed by 21st Amendment
II. Science and Religion Clash
A. Symbolizes rift between traditional and modern ideas
B. American Fundamentalism
1. Fundamentalismmovement based on literal interpretation of Bible
a. Fundamentalists skeptical of some scientific discoveries,
theories

i. reject theory of evolution


b. Believe all important knowledge can be found in Bible
2. Fundamentalist preachers lead religious revivals in South, West
a. Billy Sunday holds emotional meetings
b. Aimee Semple McPherson uses showmanship while preaching
on radio
C. The Scopes Trial, a.k.a. the Monkey Trial
1. 1925, Tennessee passes law making it a crime to teach evolution
a. ACLU backs Scopes challenge of law
2. Clarence Darrow, most famous trial lawyer of day, defends Scopes
3. Fundamentalist William Jennings Bryan is special prosecutor
4. debates involve evolution, role of science, religion in school
a. Becomes national sensation; thousands attend
5. Bryan admits Bible open to interpretation; Scopes found guilty
a. Reflects challenge of modernity
21.2: The Twenties Woman
American women pursue new lifestyles and assume new jobs and different roles
in society during the 1920s.
I. Young Women Change the Rules
A. Why? Combination of WWI, increasing urbanization, changing values,
industrialization
B. The Flapper
1. emancipated young woman, adopts new fashions, attitudes
2. Many young women want equal status with men, become assertive
a. Some middle-class begin to see marriage as equal partnership
i. Yet housework, child-rearing still womans job
C. The Double Standard
1. Elders disapprove new behavior and its promotion by periodicals, ads
a. Casual dating begins to replace formal courtship
2. Women subject to double standard (less sexual freedom than men)
a. must observe stricter standards of behavior
II. Women Shed Old Roles at Home and at Work
A. Industrialization creates $ opportunity for some, and more free time for many
B. New Work Opportunities
1. After war, employers re-replace female workers with men
2. Female college graduates become teachers, nurses, librarians
3. Many women become clerical workers as demand rises
a. Some become sales clerks, factory workers
b. Few become managers; always paid less than men
C. The Changing Family
1. Birthrate drops partly due to more birth-control information
2. Manufactured products, public services give homemakers freedom
a. Some housewives can focus more on families, pastimes
3. Marriages increasingly based on romantic love, companionship

4. Children spend most of day at school, organized activities


a. Some adolescents resist parental control
5. Working-class, college-educated women juggle family, work
21.3: Education and Popular Culture
The mass media, movies, and spectator sports play important roles in creating
the popular culture of the 1920sa culture that many artists and writers criticize.
I. Schools and the Mass Media Shape Culture
A. School Enrollments
1. High school population increases dramatically in 1920s due to:
a. prosperity
b. higher standards for industry jobs
2. Pre-1920s, high school for college-bound students
a. In 1920s, high schools also offer vocational training
3. Public schools prepare immigrant children who speak no English
4. School taxes increase as school costs rise sharply
B. Expanding News Coverage
1. Mass media shapes mass culture; takes advantage of greater literacy
a. 1914, 100s of local newspapers replaced by national chains
b. 1920s, mass-market magazines thrive
i. i.e. Readers Digest, Time founded
C. Radio Comes of Age
1. Radio is most powerful communications medium of 1920s
2. Networks provide shared national experience
a. can hear news as it happens
II. America Chases New Heroes and Old Dreams
A. New-Found Leisure Time
1. In 1920s, many people have extra money, leisure time to enjoy it
2. Crowds attend sports events; athletes glorified by mass media
B. Lindberghs Flight
1. Charles A. Lindbergh makes first solo nonstop flight across Atlantic
2. Small-town Minnesotan symbolizes honesty, bravery in age of excess
a. Lindbergh paves the way for other pilots
C. Entertainment and the Arts
1. Silent movies already a national pastime
a. Introduction of sound leads millions to attend every week
2. Playwrights, composers break away from European traditions
a. George Gershwin uses jazz to create American music
3. Painters portray American realities, dreams
a. i.e. Georgia OKeeffe paints intensely colored canvases
D. Writers of the 1920s
1. Sinclair Lewis is first American to win Nobel Prize for literature
a. criticizes conformity, materialism
2. F. Scott Fitzgerald reveals negative side of eras gaiety, freedom
3. Edna St. Vincent Millay celebrates youth, independence in her poems

4. Writers soured by American culture, war settle in Europe


a. called Lost Generation
5. Expatriate Hemingway introduces simple, tough, American style
21.4: The Harlem Renaissance
African-American ideas, politics, art, literature, and music flourish in Harlem and
elsewhere in the United States.
I. African-American Voices in the 1920s
A. Black is Beautiful
B. The Move North
1. 19101920, Great Migration of thousands of African Americans
a. move from South to Northern cities
b. By 1920, over 40% of African Americans live in cities
2. Racial tensions escalate in North; about 25 urban race riots in 1919
3. African-Americans continue to migrate in large numbers in 1920s
C. African-American Goals
1. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
(NAACP)
a. protests racial violence
b. leader James Weldon Johnson fights for civil rights legislation
c. antilynching campaign leads to drop in number
D. Marcus Garvey and the UNIA
1. Marcus Garvey founds Universal Negro Improvement
Association (UNIA)
a. believes African Americans should build separate society
b. Garvey promotes black pride, black businesses, return to Africa
II. The Harlem Renaissance Flowers in New York
A. Harlem worlds largest black urban area; people from U.S., Caribbean
1. Harlem RenaissanceAfrican-American literary, artistic movement
a. express pride in African-American experience
B. African-American Writers
1. Claude McKays poems urge blacks to resist prejudice, discrimination
2. Langston Hughess poems describe difficult lives of working class
a. many written in jazz, blues tempo
3. Zora Neale Hurston shows folkways, values of poor, Southern blacks
C. African-American Performers
1. Influence, popularity of Renaissance go beyond black audience
2. Musical comedy Shuffle Along launches movement
a. popular with white audiences
b. African-American performers win large followings
3. Paul Robesonmajor dramatic actor in London, New York
D. African Americans and Jazz
1. Jazz born in early 20th century New Orleans, spreads across U.S.
2. Trumpeter Louis Armstrong makes personal expression key part

a. most influential musician in jazz history


3. Edward Kennedy Duke Ellingtonjazz pianist, orchestra leader
a. one of Americas greatest composers
4. Cab Calloway, Armstrong popularize scat (improvised jazz singing)
5. Bessie Smithblues singer, perhaps best vocalist of decade