- Slides: 32
1920 s Culture • Mass Culture emerges around leisure entertainment • Prior to 1920 s, the U. S. A. was really just a collection of regional cultures/subcultures.
THE 1920 s What do we remember?
The Movies • Spread ideas about style, language • First time that many went to films for story • TRIVIA—First “talking” motion picture was The JAZZ SINGER— 1927.
Jazz • Starts in New Orleans bordellos and “iffy” neighborhoods. • Moves north to Chicago to New York etc. • Louis Armstrong, the trumpeter, is first and greatest star— some say he invents modern American
Newspapers • Began to have regional/national distribution • Also created subcultures – Political – Racial
Advertising • Creates standardized image of what’s cool • Creates national demand for products
The Radio • Brings mass culture to rural areas. • Provides instantaneous information. • Breaks down regional culture.
20 s features the start of mass culture • Transportation and new media (radio) make a mass culture possible. • Advertising sells the culture to the masses
LITERATURE: THE LOST GENERATION • Rejected conservative American Values • Many moved to Europe, which they felt was more free and open than America.
TS ELLIOT • Most famous for poems • “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (“Do I Dare to Eat a Peach”) • The Waste Land (“This is how the world ends, not with a bang, but a whimper”) • Dock him three points for “CATS”
Ernest Hemingway • Thank him for simplifying language. • Classic book of the 20 s “The Sun Also Rises” • Trivia: may have written the single greatest sentence in the English Language (“He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the gulf stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. ”)
F. Scott Fitzgerald • If there’s a book in the English language that is better-written than The Great Gatsby, I’ve yet to read it. • By the way, if you want to understand America, make sure you read Gatsby.
H. L. Mencken • Great Humorist and social critic • Some quotes – Puritanism, that sinking feeling that somewhere, sombody’s having a good time. – Any man who afflicts the human race with ideas must be prepared to see them misunderstood. – Conscience is a mother-in-law whose visit never ends.
Changes in African American Culture • THE NEW NEGRO – James Brown put it best, 40 years later “Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud” – Time to embrace blackness, not be ashamed of it – Leaders • The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. • Marcus Garvey (review the stuff about him in your reading) • The Harlem Renaissance
THE NAACP • Started by W. E. B. Du. Bois 1909 • Worked to gain black rights in the courts
Marcus Garvey • Started a “back to Africa” movement. • Forerunner of later black nationalists
The Harlem Renaissance • Flowering of literature, culture and thought centered in Harlem, NY. • Brings about some of the period’s best writing • Notice in the following poems that there’s a real sense of black identity and a point of view.
A party of whites from Fifth Avenue Came tippin’ into Dixie’s to get a view Came tippin into Dixie’s with smiles on their faces Knowin’ they can buy a dozen colored places Dixie grinned. Dixie bowed. Dixie rubbed his hands and laughed out loud— While a tall white woman in an ermine cape Looked at the blacks and Thought of rape Looked at blacks and Thought of a rope Looked at the blacks and Thought of flame, And thought of something Langston Hughes Folks, I’m telling you birthing is hard and dying is mean— so get yourself a little loving in between Without a name
Countee Cullen Once , riding in old Baltimore Heart-filled, head-filled with glee I saw a Baltimorean Keep looking straight at me Now I was eight, and very small And he was no whit bigger And so I smiled, but he poked out His tongue and called me, “Nigger. ” I saw the whole of Baltimore From May until December; Of all the things that happened there That’s all that I remember.
CLAUDE MCKAY If we must die, let it not be like hogs Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot. . . Like men we’ll face the murderous cowardly pack Pressed to the wall dying, but fighting back!
Why were the 20 s a bad time to be different? • Post war/post progressivism, Americans sick of new things • Rise of communism overseas sparks fears at home • Leaders use this fear to get votes
NATIVISM • Working definition—prejudice or discrimination against immigrants or those who fall outside of the traditional group (not Racially Pure). • Early 20 th Century American nativism has roots in the following – Immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe freaks people out b/c the new immigrants are sooo different – Literature— one great example is “The Passing of the Great Race” by Madison Grant.
The Passing of the Great Race (1916) By Madison Grant • Highly popular book— although there were others like it • Argued that “Nordic” races are superior—responsible for humanity’s great achievements. • Warned against “Mongrelization” of races— said mixing is race suicide. • Argued that governments must make policies to prevent superior races from being overtaken by weaker
This stuff is SCARY • A rigid system of selection through the elimination of those who are weak or unfit — in other words social failures — would solve the whole question in one hundred years, as well as enable us to get rid of the undesirables who crowd our jails, hospitals, and insane asylums. The individual himself can be nourished, educated and protected by the community during his lifetime, but the state through sterilization must see to it that his line stops with him, or else future generations will be cursed with an ever increasing load of misguided sentimentalism. This is a practical, merciful, and inevitable solution of the whole problem, and can be applied to an ever widening circle of social discards, beginning always with the criminal, the diseased, and the insane, and extending gradually to types which may be called weaklings rather than defectives, and perhaps ultimately to worthless race types. —
Fear of Immigrants Develops • “New” immigrants 1890 -1920 s are different. • Many into radical politics (Palmer Raids seek to deport) • Movement to exclude develops
IMMIGRATION RESTRICTION LAWS PASSED IN 1921 -1924 • Immigration Restriction Act--1921 • NATIONAL ORIGINS ACT (1924)Sets quotas based on earlier census (1890) that limits immigration from less desirable nations. • Post N. O. Act Immigration – Great Britain 65, 721 – Italy 5, 802 – Russia 2, 712
Revival of Ku Klux Klan • Membership reaches over 3 million in 20 s • Revived in part by “Birth of a Nation” • Anti Black, Catholic, Jew, Immigrant, Bootlegger, Adulterer • Saw self as guardian of “Pure Americanism”
Cultural Repression in the 20’s • Issues go beyond race to politics, religion, political persuasion
Attacks on Free Speech • Schenk v. United States --1919 – Case involves German immigrant who felt the draft was unconstitutional—he urges folks not to register—busted for violation of sedition act – Court rules 9 -0 that free speech not protected – Justice Holmes writes majority opinion— ”clear and present danger” clause.
Sacco and Vanzetti • Italian Anarchists accused of murder of payroll office. • Convicted and executed in spite of unclear evidence • Many felt their political views more than evidence led to their doom • Also contributes to Nativism —need to restrict immigration.
Scopes Monkey Trial • Case involved Anti. Evolution Law in Tennessee • Trial of the Century • Shows the strength of feeling that fundamentalists have
Some stuff you might not know about the Scopes Trial • It was kind of a setup to gain media attention. (since a new highway bypassed Dayton, some residents were looking for a way to stir up interest in the town. • William Jennings Bryan’s position often oversimplified. He wasn’t a superstitious simpleton as he is often portratyed