The Roaring 20s

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The Roaring 20s


The Roaring Twenties


Before the First World War, most Americans still lived on farms and in small towns, and only a small percentage of families owned telephones.  But after the war, as the surviving movies of the period show, the rhythms and values of urban America began to prevail in American culture.  Not only did most Americans have telephones in their homes, they had radios, and millions of them were the proud owners of new Ford automobiles. The young took their cues from New York and Hollywood.  American Puritanism, which H. L. Mencken defined as “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy,” lost its grip over the majority of at least the urban population.  “For the first time,” writes historian William Leuchtenburg, “the United States came face to face with the swift pace of technological innovation and was confronted with the need to fashion instruments and attitudes appropriate to an economy of abundance.”  This ten-week course will survey the political, economic, social, and cultural history of a pivotal decade in American history.

(see syllabus below)

Presented by

Bruce Thompson, Ph.D.

10 Thursdays at 7:00PM

JUN 20 to AUG 29

(no class July 4)

Week 1 (JUN 20)  The Impact of the First World War
Week 2 (JUN 27)  The Presidents: Harding and Coolidge

Week 3 (JUL 11)  A Reluctant Great Power

Week 4 (JUL 18)  The Intellectuals

Week 5 (JUL 25)  Prohibition: Alcohol and Al Capone

Week 6 (AUG 1)  Youth Culture: Manners and Morals

Week 7 (AUG 8)  Boomtime

Week 8 (AUG 15)  New York in the Twenties

Week 9 (AUG 22)  The Crash

Week 10 (AUG 29)  From Broadway to Hollywood

Reading: The Perils of Prosperity, 1914-32. William E. Leuchtenburg, University of Chicago Press, 2nd edition, 1993. ISBN: 9780226473710

Bruce Thompson, is a lecturer in the Departments of History and Literature and the Associate Director of Jewish Studies at UC-Santa Cruz, and also teaches at the Institute. He received his Ph.D. in History from Stanford; his areas of scholarly research include European intellectual and cultural history, French history, British Isles history, American history, American Jewish intellectual and cultural history, the history of cinema, and the history of espionage.

 Class begins at 7:00PM

and is always preceded by a fun gathering hour

of wine, goodies, and dessert.

Tuition: $350


To register, click the ENROLL link above

or call 408-864-4060 (M – F, 10 – 6)


Institute for the Study of Western Civilization

10060 Bubb Road, Cupertino CA 95014

The Institute’s summer 2018 programs are supported by a generous grant from The Valley Foundation.