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News Release — January 8, 2007

"The American Twenties" Exhibition Explores Decade's Cultural and Social Changes

The Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center's exhibition "The American Twenties" explores the decade's profound cultural and social changes, including ambiguities, contradictions, contrasts and conflicts as well as the many ideas and ideologies that were born or came to fruition in the 1920s.

Featuring more than 400 items that highlight and define the era, the exhibition illuminates the achievements and events that characterized the period. The exhibition runs from Jan. 30 to July 29 at the Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin.

With the opening of this exhibition, the Center begins its commemoration of its 50th anniversary year. "The American Twenties" is the first of one of many exhibitions and programs planned in a year dedicated to "Celebrating the Imagination."

"This exhibition is an exploration of the 1920s through the literature and art that was to become quintessentially American and quintessentially modern," said Rodney Phillips, guest curator of the exhibition and former curator and administrator of the New York Public Library.

The United States emerged from World War I with wealth and power and an urge to remake itself. 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. The exhibition takes a deeper look at many of the crucial events and ideas that shaped the period.

As these fundamental issues came to the surface, the idea of the "modern" was crystallized and the "American" century born.

"The exhibition offers visitors a unique opportunity to witness the emergence of a distinctly modern American culture," Phillips said.

Themes explored in this all-gallery exhibition of materials drawn from the Ransom Center's collections include "Remembering the War," "Babbitts and Bohemians," "Modernist Monuments," "Strike!," "The Rise of Women," "The Dream Factory: Los Angeles," "House and Home," "Cops and Robbers," "Cowboys and Indians," "The New Negro," "In the American Grain," "The Voice of the People," "New York" and "Chinese Shadows."

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Alyssa Morris
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