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The torchbearers : women and their amateur arts associations in America, 1890-1930

Author: Karen J Blair
Publisher: Bloomington : Indiana University Press, ©1994.
Series: Philanthropic studies.
Edition/Format:   Book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
The arts clubs for women that flourished during the Progressive Era played a major role in the emergence of middle-brow culture in America. Although nineteenth-century women were expected to acquire knowledge of the arts sufficient for the amusement and edification of their families, they were nonetheless excluded from professional circles. For women seeking a more active role in cultural life, the voluntary arts
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Genre/Form: History
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Karen J Blair
ISBN: 0253311926 9780253311924
OCLC Number: 27677514
Description: x, 259 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.
Contents: Arts in nineteenth-century American women's lives --
Arts and activism: an overview of women's clubs, 1890-1930 --
"Hear America first": women's amateur musical societies --
Women's societies for the visual arts: the struggle to be seen --
Pageantry and the women's rights movement, 1905-1925 --
Little theater movement --
Clubhouse as arts center.
Series Title: Philanthropic studies.
Other Titles: Torch bearers.
Responsibility: Karen J. Blair.

Abstract:

The arts clubs for women that flourished during the Progressive Era played a major role in the emergence of middle-brow culture in America. Although nineteenth-century women were expected to acquire knowledge of the arts sufficient for the amusement and edification of their families, they were nonetheless excluded from professional circles. For women seeking a more active role in cultural life, the voluntary arts associations were a vehicle by which they could expand into the public sphere their domestic support of the arts. The Torchbearers shows that these clubs were more than havens for artistic dilettantes. They were effective advocacy groups for promoting universal access to the fine arts, and they left a vital legacy of cultural programs and institutions.

Clubwomen - typically white, urban, Protestant, and middle class - considered themselves "torchbearers" who could lead others to embrace the highest ideals. They combatted popular or vulgar culture while promoting women and regional artists ignored by the professional elite and encouraging creative expression for everyone. In the process, they helped build an audience for "high" culture, promoted municipal art galleries, started numerous little theaters, and made a place for the arts in the school curriculum. Even in the context of the growing professionalism in the arts and the benevolence of large, well-funded male philanthropic institutions, the women's amateur arts clubs were influential in the evolving cultural life of the nation.

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