Monthly Archives: January 2017

Experience the Roaring Twenties: Art, Literature, Music & History

January 10, 2017

dancing2-copyJazz. Flappers. Speakeasies. Art Deco. The Harlem Renaissance. These all bring to mind the decade known as “the Roaring Twenties”, a time associated with possibility, newness, change, energy, and widespread economic prosperity until the crash of the stock market in 1929. In the course, “The Roaring Twenties – Part One”, Professor Laura Richardson presents this time period’s novels, poetry, art, and history, questioning the relationships between the decade’s jubilance, celebration, tumult, pessimism, and crash. We visited with Richardson to find out more.

WIH Reporter: To begin, how did you come to teach at WIH?

Richardson: Dr. Terry Doody, a long-time WIH instructor, has been my mentor ever since I was his teaching assistant at Rice in 2010. Working with and learning from Terry has been a great pleasure, and I look forward to meeting some of his current and former students in class.

WIH Reporter: What can you tell us about your upcoming class “The Roaring Twenties – Part One”?

Richardson: The most important thing is how interdisciplinary each six weeks will be. Over the entire twelve week period, we will discuss novels, poetry, history (including politics and civil rights movements), music, visual art, dance, and film. Twenties aesthetics infiltrated every medium, with each contributing to the period’s formation as a decade of merriment and strife, intricately woven into the fabric of expression.

WIH Reporter: What mistaken impressions of the Twenties do we have?

Richardson: Most people assume, based on the elaborate party scenes from Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 adaptation of The Great Gatsby, that the Roaring Twenties was all about glitz and frivolity. While the 1920s certainly put on a good show, as most of the art from the period reveals, people all over American and Europe were still recovering from the widespread trauma of World War I. A deep-rooted bipolarism is rather a better characterization of the decade’s fascinating timbre and is the main lens through which we will examine the period.

WIH Reporter: What format do you plan to use in the class?

Richardson: The Roaring Twenties will be a lecture-style course, although I will present 1-2 questions for students at the beginning of every class and ask for volunteers to share their answers at the end of every session.

The Roaring Twenties – Part One” starts on February 2nd at 10:00 a.m. For more information or to register, click here.

How Much Do You Know About…The Roaring Twenties?

January 10, 2017

By Russell Patterson [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Since Professor Richardson’s class, “The Roaring Twenties – Part One” is coming up soon, and we thought a quiz on this time period pertinent!

1. Popular dances at the time included the Charleston and the:

A. Mint Julep.
B. Lindy Hop.
C. Earhart.



2. During Prohibition, if you saw a business with this color door, it would mean alcohol was served there.

A. Red.
B. Blue.
C. Green.

3. The term “bathtub gin” came from…?

A. Booze brewed in a tub.
B. The large size of the bottles the brew was made in.
C. The fact that the bathtub faucet was used to water down the hootch.

4. Which new food(s) were introduced in the 20s?

A. Wonder Bread.
B. Wheaties.
C. Kool-Aid.
D. Milk Duds.

5. Charles Lindbergh flew a monoplane between New York and Paris. How long was the flight?

A. 33.5 hours.
B. 21 hours.
C. 62 hours.

6. What kind of coats were the rage?

A. Fox Tail.
B. Raccoon.
C. Mink.

7. What popular toys were introduced in the 1920s?

A. Lincoln Logs.
B. Raggedy Ann.
C. Yo-yos.

8. Who was the highest-paid African-American performer in the 1920s?

A. Bessie Smith.
B. Billie Holiday.
C. Josephine Baker.

9. What year during the twenties did women get the vote?

A. 1929.
B. 1924.
C. 1920.


 1. B. The invention of the radio helped spread jazz music throughout the country. Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and Cole Porter become household names. As jazz music gained popularity, the Charleston and Lindy Hop became popular dances. The Lindy Hop is said to have been named after Charles Lindbergh, while the Charleston was named for Charleston, South Carolina.

2. C. During prohibition, if there was a green door on a business, there was often a speakeasy behind it. Some popular speakeasies, like Chicago’s Green Door Tavern are still in operation.

3. B & C. It’s a common misconception that the term “bathtub gin” comes from batches being brewed inside an actual tub. However, the term actually comes from the large bottles the elixir was made in. Combining grain alcohol, juniper berries and other flavorings with water, a standard faucet was not tall enough to fit the bottle, so bootleggers would use the bathtub spigot to water down their hooch.

4  A, B, C, & D. All of these were introduced in the 1920s.

5. A. His flight took 33.5 hours.

6. B. Raccoon coats were the rage.

7. A & C. Raggedy Anns and Andys were introduced in the late teens.

8. A. Bessie Smith was the highest-paid African American performer in the 20s. By the end of the 1920s, Smith was the highest-paid black performer of her day, and had earned herself the title “Empress of the Blues.”

9. C. Women got the vote in 1920. It took activists and reformers nearly 100 years to win that right,