Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Spring 2007 Newsletter

In the Galleries

The American Twenties
January 30-July 29, 2007

The United States emerged from World War I with wealth and power and an urge to remake itself. Profound cultural and social change occurred during the 1920s, a decade of ambiguities, contradictions, contrasts, and conflicts. In the decade's struggle to define the future of America, a plethora of issues were argued and fought out in poetry, novels, political tracts, music, and the movies. Issues of race, religion, and revolution were paramount followed by those of love, sex, and gender. Questions of the primacy of labor and capital were particularly fraught, and the benefits of socialism, communism, anarchism, and capitalism were openly debated. Fundamentalists and experimentalists clashed in many areas of human endeavor. Through these, the idea of the "modern" was crystallized and the "American" century born. This exhibition is an exploration of that decade through the literature and art that was to become quintessentially American and quintessentially modern.

Themes explored in this all-gallery exhibition of materials drawn primarily from the Ransom Center's collections include "Remembering the War," "Babbitts and Bohemians," "Modernist Monuments," "Labor and Capital," "The Rise of Women," "Hollywood's Dream Factory," "House and Home," "Cops and Robbers," "Cowboys and Indians," "The New Negro," "In the American Grain," and "The Voice of the People."

The exhibition is guest-curated by Rodney Phillips, a Librarian at the University of Arizona Poetry Center, Tucson, and former administrator and curator at the New York Public Library.

Drawing of men and women dancing together

Presentation drawing in the "Jazz Lint" series
by Gordon Conway. ca. 1924-1928.

Drawing of a man and woman dancing together

Journal American press photo of "The Charleston."

Drawing of a man wearing a suit and hat

Harlem Dandy, Undated
Miguel Covarrubias
Litho crayon drawing
27.7 x 21.3 cm (10.9 x 8.4 in)
Courtesy of the Miguel Covarrubias Estate.
All Rights Reserved.


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