Cultural/Intellectual Trends

By: Ryan Dinh and Toby Garza

Radio and Movies

Around the 1920s, mass communications became the next big trend due to the huge discovery of wireless radio waves by Marconi. Soon after, broadcasting facilities were being built in the United States, Europe, and Japan. The radio became such a big impact that at the end of the 1930s there were 9 million radios.

Motion pictures were also another big deal. Movies such as Quo Vadis (Italian) and Birth of Nation made motion pictures a new form of mass entertainment.

Radio offered great opportunities for reaching the masses. This became known when Hitler's speeches made just as great of an impact on people when heard over the radio as they did in person.

" Without motor-cars, sound films, and wireless, [there would be] no victory of Nazism." -Adolf Hitler

Roaring 20's Music, Radio, & Movies

Mass Leisure

By 1920, the eight hour day had become the norm for many office and factory workers in the northern and western europe.


Professional sporting events aimed at large audiences were important aspect of mass leisure .

Activities : train buses and cars made trips to beaches or holiday resorts increasingly popular and affordable.


Mass leisure offered new ways for totalitarian states to control the people . program offered a variety of leisure activities to fill the free time of the working class. these activities included concerts operas films guided tours and sporting events.


Professional sporting events aimed at large audiences were important aspect of mass leisure . in 1920 the national football League had formed. in 1920 the First sub-one minute 100m freestyle swim.In 1924 First Winter Olympic Games was held.


Babe Ruth Hits 60th Home Run

Artistic and Literary Trends

WWI left a huge impact on Europeans (and not in a good way). Also with political, economic, and social uncertainties came intellectual uncertainties. This was evident of the artistic and intellectual achievements of the years following WWI.


After 1918, art became the next big trend, especially abstract art. Due to the absurd and unconscious content of art people started asking “The world does not make sense, so why should art?” This would lead to the Dada movement and surrealism.


Dadaist were artists that were obsessed with the idea that life has no purpose. Soon they would revolt by what they thought was the insanity of life and would express themselves through art.


Surrealism was a more important artistic movement than dadaism. Surrealism was a movement that sought a reality beyond the real world and found it in the world of the unconscious. Salvador Dali was the most famous person from this movement. Dali painted everyday objects but would separate them from their normal contexts. By doing this Dali created a strange world in which the irrational became visible.


The unconscious technique was not only used in art but in literature also. Take for example the “stream of consciousness” was a technique used in literature. This technique was used to show the inner thoughts of each character in a story. Ulysses is a great example of using the “stream of consciousness” technique. The novel Ulysses was published by a Irish writer named James Joyce. Ulysses tells the story of one day in the life of of ordinary people in Dublin followed by their inner thoughts.

German writer, Hermann Hesse used the unconscious technique a different way. He used this technique by using Freud’s psychology and Asian religion. In his works were based on spiritual loneliness of modern human beings in a mechanized urban society. In his books Siddhartha and Steppenwolf, Hesse used Buddhist ideas to show the psychological confusion of modern existence.

The Heroic Age of Physics

The prewar revolution in physics begun by Albert Einstein continued in the years between the war. Ernest called the 1920s the heroic age of physics. Newtonian physics had made people believe that all phenomena could be completely defined and predicted.

Uncertainty principle- the idea put forth by Heisenberg in 1927 that the behavior of subatomic particles is uncertain, suggesting that all of the physical laws governing the universe are based on uncertainty.

Atoms are made up of subatomic particles. Heisenburg theory essentially suggests that all physical laws are based on uncertainty. The theory’s emphasis on randomness challenges of Newtonian physics which made a new worldview. It is unlikely that many non-scientists understood the implication of Heisenburg’s work.

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Albert Einstein The Nobel Prize in Physics 1921

Essential Questions

How did the trends in the 1920s reflect on society?

How did physics change the way we think?