Participants in the LEH summer institute, "The Roaring Twenties in Black and White" will master some of the most exciting texts in American literary and cultural history, all drawn from a period that has real appeal for high school students.
The 1920s, bracketed by the sobering events of World War I and the Great Depression, constituted a watershed decade that led to a redefinition of national and international concepts of individuality, nationality, and the Atlantic community.
Soldiers of both races returned home disillusioned by the senseless carnage, and the failure of western institutions.
Black soldiers found it hard to readjust to the South's Jim Crow laws, and many took trains North.
Women, liberated by wartime opportunities, Freudian approaches to gender and sexuality, and labor-saving machines, explored new fashions, occupations, and futures.
The spreading sense of a "new age," however, invigorated America's youth everywhere, and African American art forms - especially dance, music, and literature - offered suggestions for "jazz-age" experimentation, as did the technical innovations of European or exiled American poets and writers, so called "modernists" such as T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, and Gertrude Stein, whose stream-of-consciousness, mystical and mythical allusions, and fracturing of old genres and literary forms also proved revolutionary.
These literary modernists, black and white, had counterparts in architecture, industrial design, and urban planning, and all these fields were restructuring the look and operation of the great Northern and European cities, which welcomed restless, searching youth just as eagerly as they embraced brash new inventors and entrepreneurs.
Gertrude Stein famously remarked that the artists who followed her to fruitful exile in Europe were part of a "lost generation," but if so, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Dos Passos, Hughes, McKay and others soon found they could find their way back to psychological potency through modernist art.