A Guide to an American Subculture
by Kelly Boyer Sagert
December 2009, 146pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-0-313-37690-0
$43, £34, 38€, A59
eBook Available: 978-0-313-37691-7
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Finally allowed to vote, attending college, and joining the work force in surging numbers, American women in the 1920s experienced dramatic change. But the most indelible female icon of the Roaring Twenties was the flapper—short skirt, bobbed hair, dancing with abandon, or projecting insouciant independence with a cigarette holder in one hand and a glass of bathtub gin in the other.

This book offers an examination of the Roaring Twenties in the United States, focusing on the vibrant icon of the newly liberated woman—the flapper—that came to embody the Jazz Age.

Flappers takes readers back to the time of speakeasies, gangsters, dance bands, and silent film stars, offering a fresh look at the Jazz Age by focusing on the women who came to symbolize it.

Flappers captures the full scope of the hedonistic subculture that made the Roaring Twenties roar, a group that reacted to Prohibition and other attempts to impose a stricter morality on the nation. Topics include the transition from silent films to talkies, the arrival of American Jazz as the country’s first truly indigenous musical form, the evolution of the United States from a rural to an urban nation, the fashion and slang of the times, and more. It is an exhilarating portrait of a brief outburst of liberation that would last until the Great Depression came crashing down.


  • Primary documents allow readers to see how contemporaries viewed flappers, follow the trial of a famous comedian charged with a horrific crime, and read what proponents of Prohibition really thought about wicked liquor
  • The glossary allows readers to enter into the spirit of the times, when people could express their delight using phrases such as “bee's knees,” and “cat’s meow”; pass along the word about illegal booze with colorful terms such as “hooch,” “bathtub gin,” and “bootleg”; and describe relentless dancers as “floorflushers,” women using too much face makeup as “flour lovers,” and pilots as “fly boys.”
Kelly Boyer Sagert is a freelance writer. She is the author of Greenwood's Joe Jackson: A Biography, The 1970s, and Encyclopedia of Extreme Sports.
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