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Social Issues of the Progressive Era Background for Broken Blossoms, The Birth of a Nation, and Within Our Gates.

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Presentation on theme: "Social Issues of the Progressive Era Background for Broken Blossoms, The Birth of a Nation, and Within Our Gates."— Presentation transcript:

1 Social Issues of the Progressive Era Background for Broken Blossoms, The Birth of a Nation, and Within Our Gates

2 Progressive Era Usually 1900 through U.S. entry into WWI (1918), although reforms dated from the late 1880s Belief in the power of governments at local, state, and national levels to effect political and social change For women, “national housekeeping” movement toward more involvement in government, including woman suffrage

3 Progressive Era Issues Industrialism, unions, and worker safety (corporate rapacity) Population control and women’s sexuality Immigration Race Rise of organized crime Drug abuse and alcoholism Prostitution and “white slavery” Poverty and the urban underclass Urbanization, “overcivilization,” and the destruction of the wilderness

4 Reforms and Reformers Theodore Roosevelt –Cleaned up police corruption as Police Commissioner of New York City –As President of the U.S. ( ), established the National Parks system (Gifford Pinchot) –Supported an investigation in United Mine Workers’ strike in 1892 that led to higher wages –“Trust-buster” enforcing the Interstate Commerce Act (1887), the Sherman Anti-Trust Act (1890) –But--supported annexation of the Philippines and other imperial ventures

5 Reforms and Reformers Jane Addams, Twenty Years at Hull- House (settlement house) Margaret Sanger, birth control movement W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk Robert M. LaFollette (politician) William Jennings Bryan, presidential candidate John Dewey (education)

6 Muckrakers Upton Sinclair, The Jungle (led to the Pure Food and Drug Act and Meat Inspection Act of 1906) Ida Tarbell, The History of The Standard Oil Company David Graham Phillips, “The Treason of the Senate” Ray Stannard Baker, The Right to Work Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases Jacob Riis, How the Other Half Lives McClure’s Magazine

7 Social Issues in Film “White slavery” –Reginald Wright Kauffmann, The House of Bondage –Traffic in Souls (1913) –The Inside of the White Slave Traffic (1913) –The Red Kimono (1926) Birth Control and Abortion –Where Are My Children? (1916)

8 Crime and Addiction The Black Hand Musketeers of Pig Alley Regeneration (1915) Human Wreckage (1923) The Cocaine Traffic / The Drug Terror (1914) John Barleycorn (1914, based on the book by Jack London)

9 Labor and Industrial Exploitation Griffith, A Corner in Wheat (1908) The Valley of the Moon (1914, from the novel by Jack London) Children Who Labor (1912) The Cry of the Children (1912) Fires of Youth (1914)

10 Ethnicity and Immigration The Italian (1915) Broken Blossoms (1919) The Immigrant (1917) Hungry Hearts (1922; based on the stories of Anzia Yezierska)

11 D. W. Griffith ( ) Began as an actor and then a director with American Mutoscope and Biograph Company (14 th St., New York) 1-2 reel pictures, including A Corner in Wheat (1908) Judith of Bethulia (1913), feature- length film The Birth of a Nation (1915) Intolerance (1916), four parallel stories Broken Blossoms (1919) Way Down East (1920) Orphans of the Storm (1921) The Struggle (1931) (last film)

12 The Birth of a Nation (1915) Based on the novel The Clansman (1905) by Thomas Dixon NAACP protested its release in most major cities Woodrow Wilson is supposed to have said it was “like writing history with lightning.” The myth of the “Old South”: –white supremacy; aristocracy of “blood” –purity of Southern womanhood as a symbol of the South’s values and Southern chivalry toward women as an emblem of masculinity –racial hierarchy What does the artwork on this poster emphasize about the film?

13 W. E. B. Du Bois ( ) W. E. B. Du Bois in The Souls of Black Folk (1903): “The the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line.” Concepts: –“Talented tenth” –“the veil” –“double consciousness” –Being a “race man” versus passing for white

14 Oscar Micheaux ( ) Homesteader, novelist, director Conquest, the Story of a Negro Pioneer (1913) (novel) The Homesteader (1917) (novel) The Homesteader (1919, film) Within Our Gates (1920) Body and Soul (1924, starring Paul Robeson) Veiled Aristocrats (1932)—based on the novel The House Behind the Cedars by Charles W. Chesnutt. Micheaux had made a silent version in 1925 under Chesnutt’s original title.


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