How did Modernism affect American culture?

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Modernism came to the United States in the beginning of the 20th century, and continued through the two World Wars. It tended to focus on invention and ingenuity, showing how the best innovations could be used to make life better, faster, and more enjoyable for the average person. Modernism was a key part of 1920's U.S. culture, with a shift towards the creation of a new, better society both casually and politically. The "Roaring Twenties" was a direct result of Modernist views, with new conventions to gender roles, as well as the fast spread of technological conveniences like telephones. Modernism in the U.S. also tried to avoid the most important social issues of the day, instead speaking to the youth and an idea of a fun life instead of an explicitly meaningful one. Art, music, and literature all moved away from Realism towards Abstraction, with free-flowing Jazz music, abstract art, and deeply metaphorical literature all becoming extremely popular. Architecture changed as well, leaving behind the unnecessary ornamentation of the past to show clean lines and functional design instead of wasted space. Overall, U.S. Modernism was a reaction to the changing social landscape of the world at the end of the 19th century, and served as a working template for many sociological, economic, ideological, and political philosophies of the future.


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