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Courses / Modules / HIST2222 Ragtime! The Making of Modern America

Ragtime! The Making of Modern America

When you'll study it
Semester 1
CATS points
ECTS points
Level 5
Module lead
David Cox
Academic year

Module overview

For the United States, the turn of the twentieth century was a turbulent, transformative time: an age of embattled political parties and insurgent Populists, mass immigration and overseas war, millionaire capitalists and impoverished farmers, all set to the ragged rhythms of African-American popular music (otherwise known as Ragtime). If this sounds familiar, it is because it is: the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries set the template for American life as we know it. The turn of the century witnessed the rebirth of a nation devastated by bloody civil war. In this module, we will look at some of the most important issues of the day, including the wars waged against guerrilla fighters in the Philippines and American Indians in the West, the fight for women’s rights and the campaign for prohibition, the rise of populist politics, the growth of mass consumerism, the segregation and disenfranchisement of African Americans in the South, and the emergence of black ghettoes in the North. Proceeding thematically, rather than chronologically, the module looks at the period 1877 to 1920 from a number of different angles, considering the ways in which ideas of class, gender, and race helped to shape the rebuilding of the United States. Throughout, we will examine the impact of this process of national reconstruction upon American life and thought. Americans were troubled and excited in equal measure as small towns, Victorian values, and comforting familiarity gave way to big cities, political radicalism, and the fevered squall of the jazz trumpet.