Jazz and the Cultural Transformation Of America in the 1920s

Posted: May 15, 2012 in Courtney Patterson Carney, Jazz

Author: Courtney Patterson Carney

Source: A Dissertation Submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in The Department of History, B.A., Baylor University, 1996 – M.A., Louisiana State University, 1998
December 2003


“In the early twentieth century jazz was a regionally based, racially defined dance music that featured solo and collective improvisation. Originating in New Orleans, jazz soon spread throughout the country as musicians left the South for better opportunities— both economic and social—elsewhere in the country. Jazz greatly increased in popularity during the 1920s. No longer a regional music dominated by African Americans, jazz in the 1920s helped define a generation torn between the Victorian society of nineteenth century America and the culture of modernity that was quickly defining the early twentieth century. Jazz and its eventual popularity represented the cultural tensions present in modern America, and the acceptance of jazz reflected the degree to which Americans rejected or accepted traditional values.

This dissertation examines the historical context of this larger transformation America underwent in the 1920s and early 1930s.”



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