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First-Year Research Seminar: Tales of the Jazz Age: New York City in the 1920s

Semester and Year SP 2018
Course Number FIRST-UG788
Section 001
Instructor Glenn Kurtz
Days MW
Time 11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Units 4
Level U


Open to Gallatin first-year students only.


Today's New York City first took shape in the 1920s. Known as “The Roaring Twenties” or “The Jazz Age,” the decade between the end of World War I and the Stock Market Crash witnessed the dizzying birth of modern mass communication; mass consumer culture and advertising; talking pictures (AKA movies); Jazz and electric sound recording; women’s suffrage, flappers, “the New Woman”; “the New Negro” and the Harlem Renaissance; affordable automobiles; passenger air travel; skyscrapers... Indeed, almost every feature of the modern city that we take for granted today first came to frenetic fruition in the 1920s. Why? What caused this sudden explosion of cultural production? How can we grasp the cultural history of so dynamic an era? How did those who lived through the era understand (and reflect) the changes they experienced? Finally, how does their experience influence the way we see the city (and modern life) today? To begin to answer these questions, we will read (F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jean Toomer, Dorothy Parker, among others); view (Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Mary Pickford); and listen (Duke Ellington, Bessie Smith, the Gershwins, Fats Waller). Each student will select a research focus (in literature, music, art, architecture, consumer culture, gender or race relations, etc.) and develop a semester-long project exploring a specific dimension of the era in depth.


All Syllabi

Course Type

First-Year Program: Research Seminars (FIRST-UG)