Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Teaching the American Twenties: Exploring the Decade through Literature and Art

Regionalism: Reacting to the Modern


Introduction New Mexico
Southern Agrarians  


After World War I, many artists and intellectuals saw the diversity of America's regions as worthy of exploration and celebration. They also often felt they had found, in regional traditions, a way to combat the nation's industrialization and commercialization, and an antidote to the emerging desires of mass consumption promoted by advertising and Hollywood.

The artists and intellectuals who shared this belief, collectively known as "regionalists", saw the region as "the means toward a richer, freer, and more humane way of life," represented by the diverse cultures maintained by groups of individuals removed from the modern metropolitan centers. Regionalists hoped to provide the framework for a utopian balance among small cities, a revitalized rural economy, and rich wilderness areas. In light of these views, regionalism can be seen as an important stage in the development of contemporary conservationism, preservationism, and environmentalism.

Pastel landscape
Pastel landscape
Alice Corbin Henderson

Though best known for her literary work, Alice Corbin Henderson also created these two pastel southwestern landscapes.

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