The Jazz age is distinct from other literary movements of its era. While the others were literary and artistic, the Jazz Age was a cultural movement. Also referred to as the "Roaring 20's," the Jazz Age began in 1918 with the end of World War I, and lasted until 1928, ending with the Stock Market Crash. This period was marked by economic prosperity, liberal behavior, social mobility, bootleg liquor, and most notably Jazz Music
People argue about the primary genesis of the Jazz Age. One major motivating factor was the probibition of alcohol. After alcohol was outlawed, underground night clubs began opening to serve a thirsty - if illicit - crowd. Because these clubs were already "underground," they were also open new forms of expression. Jazz music was popularized in these bars. What made Jazz so controversial was that it literally broke all the rules. Traditional musical theory had been established by the Catholic Church during the Renaissance and hadn't changed since. Jazz ignored these rules. Another hurdle Jazz had to overcome was that it started in the African-American community. For this reason alone, many Whites were often openly dismissive.
Jazz was not the only art form of this period that reacted to changing times by changing its rules. Many writers began to deviate from the literary forms and rules that had defined the last generation. For more information see page about Modernism. The Jazz Age is defined as a cultural movement. Although it influenced every aspect of the art and literature in the period, the effect that it had on cultural ideals and norms was greater. It forced people to question the ideas that they had about what was appropriate, normal and to be desired. This step from tradition gave people to opportunity to experience new forms of self expression. The Women's Rights movement had been established in 1848 at Seneca Fall, New York, yet in 60 years they had been unable advance their cause. During these changing times however, the Suffragette's were able to motivate a constitutional amendment in only several years. The Jazz age was epitomized by a new cultural identity; Defined by liberal ideas, radical self expression, and new found wealth, the Jazz age truly was a unique time in American history.