What’s all the flap about flappers?

American writers in the 1920s used the flapper as a sign of the times, says Kate Drowne, associate professor of English and technical communication.


Now Drowne, who is working on her third book about 1920s culture, will dig deeper into those times through a non-residential fellowship at Harvard University.
Flapper_fmt.jpegThe fellowship, which is funded through the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African-American and African Studies, will allow Drowne access to the extensive and exclusive Harvard library, where she hopes to dig up rare sources of 1920s literature.
According to Drowne, public opinion about the flapper was widely varied during her existence. “She was viewed by some as a perfect role model for the new woman, free of old-fashioned Victorian ideals, and by others as a harbinger of disaster, signaling the destruction of the nation,” Drowne says. “Still others thought that the flapper was just going through a phase, and would eventually settle into more traditional female roles.”
Drowne is the author of Spirits of Defiance: National Prohibition and Jazz Age Literature, 1920-1933 and co-author of American Popular Culture Through History: The 1920s. Drowne will spend several months on her research at Harvard. She intends to complete her new book, The Flapper in American Literature of the Jazz Age, by the fall of 2010.

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