The 1920s in America marked a new decade of freedom and exploration for youths. With the conclusion of the First World War in 1918 and the addition of the nineteenth amendment to the United States Constitution in 1919, women gained more prominent roles in both politics and society. The early twentieth century ushered in a new age of sexual expression and attempted gender balance. Secular thinking became more widespread than ever, which was reflected in the arts throughout the first half of the twentieth century. Artists and writers alike were not only expressing themselves through their works, but documenting the radical transformations taking place as well. Challenging society’s standards became something that young people aspired to and their carefree attitudes prompted immediate backlash from the older generations. Writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Eugene O’Neill, and Edna St. Vincent Millay wished to chronicle the immediate advances and changes that were taking place throughout the 1920s. The goal of this project is to describe the transformation that American society underwent in the 1920s in relation to gender and sexuality through literature. Writers have always been historians in their own way and when it came to chronicling the massive changes taking place throughout the Roaring Twenties, literature played a vital part in social expression. A new breed of females was slowly beginning to emerge in the early 1900s and they couldn’t help but attract attention from all, especially writers. This project will document the way in which gender and sexual equality were recorded by the three specific authors previously mentioned, as well as make the claim that the 1920s were instrumental in promoting impartiality for all genders.
Advisor(s) or Committee Chair
Dr. David Serafini
Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Literature in English, North America
Gilkison, Taylor, "The Transformation of Gender and Sexuality in 1920s America: A Literary Interpretation" (2017). Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects. Paper 682.