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American Culture in the 1920s

Susan Currell

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The 1920s saw the United States rise to its current status as the leading world superpower, matched by an emerging cultural dominance that characterized the second half of the twentieth century. This book provides an stimulating account of the major cultural and intellectual trends of the decade that have been pivotal to its characterization as 'the jazz age'.

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Introduction: The Intellectual Context
1. Fiction, Poetry and Drama
2. Music and Performance
3. Film and Radio
4. Art and Design
5. Consumption and Leisure

Conclusion: The Cultural Legacy of the 1920s.

About the Author

Susan Currell is a Senior Lecturer in American Literature at the University of Sussex. She is author of The March of Spare Time: The Problem and Promise of Leisure During the 1930s (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005) and co-editor of Popular Eugenics: National Efficiency and American Mass Culture (University of Ohio Press, 2006).


Both thoughtful and useful, Susan Currell's American Culture in the 1920s combines summatory accounts of intellectual, political, cultural and aesthetic trends with illuminating case-studies that range from close readings of particular texts through genre surveys and exhibition reviews to coverage of key or typical careers. Currell's version of the decade turns on a record of pervasive tensions between tradition and innovation, and is particularly strong on the passage of intellectual trends into popular and political theories conditioning the daily cultural life of the decade. I can think of few other introductions that so aptly catch the degree to which modernity is necessarily unfinished, unfinishable and conflicted.
- Professor Richard Godden, University of California, Irvine

"one of the particular strengths of this book is its method of establishing connections across different areas of cultural production, avoiding easy generalizations and offering concrete examples to illustrate larger trends."

"This is a most reliable and carefully researched book. I shall certainly add it to the reading list for my own course on America in the 1920s; indeed, I think it belongs right at the top of the list."

- Faye Hammil, University of Strathclyde, Journal of American Studies, 44 (2010)

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