Jazz. 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.