Politics and Culture in the 1920s • Understanding Goal: How did culture and society change during the 1920s?
Changes in Society and Culture • New Innovations • Birth of Mass Culture • People question old ideas • New Woman • Harlem Renaissance • The Jazz Age
New Innovations • Refrigerators • Washing Machines • Irons • Vacuum Cleaners • Gave women more free time
Automobile • Henry Ford introduces the Model T • Cars made using mass production: the rapid manufacture of large numbers of identical products. • Cars made using assembly lines. • Cars were available for low prices. • By 1927, 56% of Americans owned cars.
Automobile • "I will build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one – and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God's great open spaces." ---Henry Ford
Social and Economic Impacts of Automobile • Caused a boom in other car related industries: steel, glass, rubber, asphalt, wood, gasoline, insurance • Road construction and oil industry grew • Led to development of suburbs • Automobile ownership symbolized the American dream. • People could travel.
Mass Culture • A set of cultural values and ideas that arise from common exposure of a population to the same cultural activities, communications media, music and art, etc. Mass culture becomes possible only with modern communications and electronic media. A mass culture is transmitted to individuals, rather than arising from people’s daily interactions. • What features make up mass culture today?
Mass Culture in the 1920s More Americans have free time and money: Mass culture during the 1920s was based on: • Movies • Radio • Magazines • Sports • Not so different from today!
Literature in the 1920s • Literature before the 1920s emphasized progress. • WWI called progress into question. • Writers of the 1920s were known as the “Lost Generation” because they no longer had faith in society. They looked for new truths and questioned older values. • Examples: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway
Lost Generation • In A Farewell to Arms (1929), Ernest Hemingway's (1899-1961) hero, Frederic Henry, confesses, • "1 was always embarrassed by the words sacred, glorious, and sacrifice and the expression in vain.... There were many words that you could not stand to hear and finally only the names of places had dignity. Certain numbers were the same way and certain dates and these with the names of the places were all you could say and have them mean anything. Abstract words such as glory, honor, courage, or hallow were obscene beside the concrete names of villages, the numbers of roads, the names of rivers, the numbers of regiments, and the dates."
New Woman of the 1920s • Wore shorter dresses and makeup • Danced • Now had political rights • Flappers: young women with short skirts, makeup, and bobbed haircuts • Flappers embodied the new woman and challenged boundaries
African Americans in the 1920s • Great Migration: Many African Americans flocked to Northern cities during WWI and the 1920s to gain jobs in Northern factories. • Push factor: Southern Racism. • Pull factor: Jobs in North • Race riots erupted in the North when white soldiers returned home and found themselves competing with African Americans for jobs • Approximately 200,000 African Americans settled in Harlem during the early 1920s. • Harlem became the center of African American culture.
Harlem Renaissance • During the1920s and 1930s there was an unprecedented burst of creative activity from African Americans in the field of art and literature. • Caused by the Great Migration • Also known as the “New Negro Movement” • Celebrated African American culture and questioned racism and unequal treatment.
Literature of the Harlem Renaissance • Langston Hughes Zora Neale Hurston A Dream Deferred (1926) Her book Their Eyes Were What happens to a Watching God (1937) dream deferred? Expressed a longing for Does it dry up independence. Like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore-- And then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over- - like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode?
The Jazz Age • Jazz and Blues were also expressions of the African American experience. • Jazz combined African American blues and ragtime with European based popular music. • African Americans were the most famous jazz musicians. Like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington • Showed richness of African American culture. • Influenced white music.
Key Concepts • Although politics were conservative, many Americans questioned the values of previous generations. Ex. Lost generation, Harlem Renaissance, New Woman • Mass culture in the form of sports, movies, radio, and automobile helped to bring people together. • Northern cities, particularly Harlem became important centers for black culture. • These changes led to a conservative backlash.