31.1 Postwar Uncertainty
The postwar period is one of loss and
uncertainty but also one of invention,
creativity, and new ideas.
A New Revolution in Science
• Impact of Einstein’s
Theory of Relativity
– Albert Einstein offered
radically new ideas in
field of physics
– Theory of relativity—
idea that space and
time are not constant
– New ideas make world
seem more uncertain
than before
A New Revolution in Science
• Influence of
Freudian Psychology
– Sigmund Freud—
Austrian doctor with
new ideas about the
– Claims that human
behavior is not based
on reason
Literature in the 1920s: The Lost Generation
• Impact of the War
– Suffering caused by World
War I leads many to doubt
old beliefs.
– Many American younger
postwar writers choosing to
live in Europe are called
the “Lost Generation,” a
term used by Ernest
Hemingway in his novel
The Sun Also Rises,
himself a member of the
“lost generation.” The term
was coined by his mentor,
the writer Gertrude Stein.
Lost Generation Writers
• T.S. Elliot
• Wrote The Waste Land,
a poem.
Lost Generation Writers
• F. Scott Fitzgerald
• Wrote the short story
“Bernice Bobs Her Hair”
as well as the novel The
Great Gatsby.
Lost Generation Writers
• Ezra Pound
– an American expatriate
poet, critic and a major
figure of the early
modernist movement.
– His best-known works
include Ripostes (1912),
Hugh Selwyn Mauberley
(1920), and his
unfinished 120-section
epic, The Cantos (1917–
Other Writers
• Writers Reflect
Society’s Concerns
– Novels of Franz Kafka
reflect uneasiness of
postwar years
– Novels of James
Joyce reflect Freud’s
ideas about the mind
Literature in the 1920s
• Thinkers React to
– Philosophy of
universal meaning
to life
– Friedrich Nietzsche
(right) urges return
to ancient heroic
values .
Literature in the 1920s
• French philosopher
Jean-Paul Satre (right)
becomes a leading
• Sartre’s partner
Simone De Beuvoir
(right) is also a
philosopher and
feminist author.
Sartre and Beuvoir
Revolution in the Arts
• Artists Rebel Against Tradition
• Artists want to depict inner world of mind
– Cubism transforms natural shapes into geometric
– Dadaism—art that rejected reason and logic,
prizing nonsense, anarchy, irrationality and
– Surrealism—art movement that links dreams with
real life
• Pablo Picasso, Les
d'Avignon, 1907.
Considered to be
a major step
towards the
founding of the
Cubist movement
• Robert Delaunay,
Simultaneous Windows
on the City, 1912,
Hamburger Kunsthalle,
an example of Abstract
• Juan Gris, Portrait of
Picasso, 1912, oil on
canvas, Art Institute of
• Pablo Picasso, Three
Musicians (1921),
Museum of Modern
Art. Three Musicians is
a classic example of
Synthetic cubism.
• Hannah Höch, Cut with
the Dada Kitchen Knife
through the Last
Weimar Beer-Belly
Cultural Epoch in
Germany, 1919, collage
of pasted papers,
90x144 cm,
Staatliche Museen zu
• Fountain is a 1917 work
widely attributed to
Marcel Duchamp. The
scandalous work was a
porcelain urinal, which
was signed "R.Mutt"
and titled Fountain.
• Raoul Hausmann ABCD
(Self-portrait) A
photomontage from
• The techniques of
Dadaism included
(manufactured goods the
Dadaists considered art).
Salvador Dalí, The Persistence of Memory
(1931), Museum of Modern Art
Max Ernst, The
Elephant Celebes
(1921), Tate, London
René Magritte's "This is not a
pipe." The Treachery of Images
1928–29, Los Angeles County
Museum of Art
Composers Try New Styles
• Composers move away
from traditional styles
– Jazz—musical style that
captures age’s new
Louis Armstrong (above) and
Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe a.k.a.
“Jelly Role Morton” (left)
The King & Carter Jazzing Orchestra photographed in
Houston, Texas, January 1921.
Society Challenges Convention
• Women’s Roles Change
– Women take on new
roles during World War I
– This work helps many
win the right to vote
– In 1920s, women adopt
freer clothing, hairstyles
• “Flappers”
– Some women seek new
Pictures of Flappers
Actress Louise Brooks
A flapper on board a ship
Pictures of Flappers
Violet Romer in a flapper dress,
c. 1915
Clara Bow, c. 1921
Pictures of Flappers
Actress Alice Joyce
Actress Norma Talmage
Pictures of Flappers
"Where there's smoke there's fire" by Russell
Patterson, showing a fashionably dressed
flapper in the 1920s
Technological Advances Improve Life
• The Automobile Alters
– Cars improve after the
– Cars become less
– Increased auto use
changes people’s lives
1925 Ford Model T touring sedan.
Technological Advances Improve Life
• Airplanes
Transform Travel
– Charles Lindbergh
is first to fly alone
across Atlantic
Technological Advances Improve Life
• Radio and Movies
Dominate Popular
– In 1920s,
commercial radio
stations spread
across U.S.
– Motion pictures
become major
industry, art form
Top Three Grossing Silent Films

31.1 postwar uncertainty