The roaring ’20s in New York and Paris can be understood as a contradictory age of both sexual liberation and restricted freedoms: the flapper resisted the post-war desire to return to traditional gender norms, Coco Chanel disrupted accepted notions of beauty and gender, and artists in both cities rejected the increasing industrialization of society after the First World War. During the prohibition in New York, both African-Americans and white Americans increasingly began to visit jazz clubs in Harlem, making jazz and African-American dance popular among the black and white population alike. While New York saw a blossoming of African-American art, music, theatre, and literature called the Harlem Renaissance, artists in Paris similarly began to experiment with new art forms—such as synthetic cubism and surrealism.
Attracted to the (artistic) freedoms and the Bohemian lifestyle that Paris had to offer, American authors, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein, moved to Paris - becoming part of the so-called “lost generation”. Famous African-American musicians, such as Josephine Baker, also left for Paris, contributing to the growing jazz scene in Montmartre.
This five-week activity is an invitation to explore literary and visual art forms that reflect the changing perspectives on politics, gender, and sexuality. Comparing and contrasting art movements in New York and Paris, we will read excerpts from Harlem-Renaissance writers Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, discuss Gertrude Stein’s The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, and watch an avant-garde film. To “recreate” the atmosphere of the jazz years in the classroom, we will play music, watch old video clips, and look at early-twentieth century paintings.
Marieke Kalkhove, PhD, is originally from The Netherlands but has lived in Canada for twelve years. Her main passions are teaching and learning. She has a Ph.D. in English Language and Literature from Queen's University, a Master of Arts degree from Carleton University, and a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree from the University of Winnipeg. During her undergraduate years, Marieke's passion for teaching led her to volunteer at NEEDS: Centre for War-Affected Families in Winnipeg, where she taught ESL to refugee women. Working at this great organization is still one of her most meaningful learning experiences as a teacher.