Discuss the cultural strategies employed by Americans who resisted the rapid changes taking place in the post-WWI world?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that the dominant strategy that Americans adopted from a cultural point of view was the revelry that became "the roaring '20s."  From a historical point of view, the culture of this decade emphasized everything opposite from the changing and dangerous dynamic of a post World- War I Europe.  The fragmented and decimated nature of Europe, the lack of stable leadership, and the economic decay that loomed over all of Europe after the First World War necessitated the world's attention.  When President Wilson died, this hope died with him.  The desire for "normalcy" became strongly associated with isolationism and an almost repudiation for what was happening in Europe.  From a cultural point of view, this resulted in a sense of "inwardness" and from this, the 1920s takes hold.  The cultural scene where drinking, dancing, fashion, and self- indulgence becomes the norm for so many was a strategy meant to evade the reality awaiting in Europe and around the world.  Americans sought refuge in bootlegged booze, copacetic dance- halls, and in seeking some ideal of fashion and of self that existed devoid of any "real world" concerns.  This becomes a strategy that, for the most part, prevented any legitimate examination of European affairs and American responsibility towards them.  In this, the presence of the "Jazz Age" itself or "the Roaring '20s" becomes its own cultural form of resistance to the world taking form in the wake of World War I.


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