The Progressive Era that took place in 1890 all the way to the 1920s transformed American Literature. There was a lot of substantial works that emerged because of the work conditions and tragedies during this era and you can easily recall evidence. In the 20th century, many social and economic changes occured. Some for the better of our country and some for the worst. A lot of these changes revolved around our conceptions of freedom, mass communication, innovations in science/ technology, creation of more music and entertainment, our health and living standards, and american literature.
The Progressive Movements gave a lot of great effort to change the living situations of the people. Such as ensuring wholesome and pure milk, efforts to outlaw the sale of alcohol, regulate trusts, and to Restrict or Americanize immigrants. One of the most cultural advances of the century was that American Woman demanded to gain the same rights as men (aka Women’s Suffrage) and earned the right to vote in 1918.
Woman wanted to study and discuss history, music, art, and literature so large numbers of woman would join clubs to do this. Some of these clubs would also offer home economics classes and would demonstrate how to sew and teach them things about motherhood. The woman wanted to expand their knowledge and not feel like they didn’t have the right to do more than just be stay at home moms/wifes. This expanded many female club movements.
The entertainment during this time progressed as well. Filmmaking began to expand. With new and upcoming music, the progressive women’s movement, and accessibility of alcohol and tobacco, the social change during this time was happening quick. Many of the events that have shaped America today happened during this Progressive Era. Events such as the unsinkable ship, the Titanic, which sank in 1914, killing nearly 1,503 people. This tragedy affected almost everyone. America also entered WWI in 1917. The prohibition of alcohol occurred in 1919.
The prohibition of alcohol lasted for thirteen years. While this prohibition was done with the intention of decreasing alcohol in all areas, the plan completely backfired on the country. People were making their own alcohol and drugs which killed plenty of people for the consumption unsafe alcohol. It was then known that taking alcohol away from all businesses and not selling it was actually doing more harm than good. In 1918 after the war had ended, many Americans felt at ease with themselves and more at peace. The short-term concern over all of the fast changes and wars vanished. All of the major tragedies, events, and chaos that had happened during this time sprung a lot of American Literature. American literature during this time expanded and people were starting to see it more.
Many of the literary pieces coming out during this time were journalists phenomenon, the “literature of exposure”, limitless material focusing on the failures of government and corporations, and magazines followed by newspapers and popular fiction. As Americans faced cultural, political, and technological change, literature reflected the changing times. Men were wanting to pursue the dreams of being crazy rich to have the approval of society and to feel successful. The woman were torn and unsure if they should be marrying out of love or money.
Many incredible authors chose to use these questions and the confusion of the people as the background for their writing. F. Scott Fitzgerald and Edith Wharton were two of the authors who used this to their advantage, They wrote about these societal changes though memorable and vibrant characters. F. Scott Fitzgerald was one of the artists who really expanded his writing during the progressive era. He chose to write about people faced with choices between money, love, and position in society.
He explored the connections of this era through his characters. People yearned for a simpler more peaceful world. One thing that you could count on during this time was that the characters in the literature you read would be incredible and more vibrant than ever. Authors incorporated the past and current situations of the progressive era into their literary pieces. They used their skills as authors to expose the corruption during America’s Gilded Age. In the 1920’s, after WWI artistic creativity in literature many artists gained national attention. Authors like Eubie Blake, Jessie Faucet, Langston Hughes, and many more.
As said in the Progressive Era International Website, “They all became members of the Harlem Renaissance.” Langston Hughes was born in 1902, during the progressive era. He became one of the most important thinkers and writers of the Harlem Renaissance.
Overall, The Progressive Era was a significant time. Immediately after, it gave upcoming authors something to write about and a gave a transformation in American literature. Many authors such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Langston Hughes, and plenty more came from this era. They took advantage of the many sorrowful yet incredible occurrences from this time period. The Progressive Era was a time that was monumentel and transformed American Literature.