Anglo-American Popular Culture in Peace and War

Leaving Cert > Dictatorship and Democracy in Europe > Anglo-American Popular Culture in Peace and War

Charlie Chaplin in "The Great Dictator" (1940)

Have you watched TV today? Or have you been watching videos on YouTube? Does anyone in your family listen to the radio? Maybe this weekend you'll go to the cinema. All of these forms of media relate to popular culture (or pop culture for short). Pop culture first took off as a phenomenon in the early 20th century with the arrival of radio and cinema for the first time. Nowadays we have the digital TV, the internet and HD cineplexes. Have you wondered how different that might look to someone who grew up in the 1930s? In this section you'll look at the development of pop culture (through radio and cinema) in the 1920s and 30s, and you'll look at it from the point of view of the pop culture we are most familiar with: Anglo-American (i.e. films, music etc. from Britain and America).

Continue to France in the Inter-War Years



  • Popular Culture:
    • What do we mean by popular culture?
    • Reasons for its expansion in the 20s and 30s.
    • Growing divide between young and old, urban and rural.
  • Radio:
    • America (NBC, CBS) and Britain (BBC).
    • The role of radio.
  • Cinema:
    • Silent films in the 20s.
    • The first "talkies": Al Jolson and The Jazz Singer.
    • Charlie Chaplin.
    • The growth of cinemas in Britain.
    • The influence of cinema: fashion, Anglo-American culture, sex symbols, musicals, "Flappers".
  • Music:
    • Jazz music from America.
    • New dances (Charleston, Foxtrot).
  • Sport:
    • Growing professionalism (e.g. Football World Cup).
    • Sport "stars".
  • Popular Culture in World War II:
    • Propaganda (by both the Allies and the Nazis).
    • Source of news.
    • Cinema propaganda.
    • Stars visiting troops for morale.

Key Terms:  
Popular Culture
(click here)

Key Personalities: 
Charlie Chaplin 
Bing Crosby

Celebrities of the 1920s and 30s (besides Chaplin and Crosby)
1st row (l to r): Orson Welles, Al Jolson, Walt Disney, Clark Gable
2nd row (l to r): Clara Bow, Jesse Owens, Greta Garbo, Bela Lugosi
3rd row (l to r): Fred Astaire, Mickey Mouse, Fay Wray, Bob Hope
4th row (l to r): Billie Holiday, Babe Ruth, Judy Garland, Rudolf Valentino




Higher Level (100 marks each)
2013: What did you learn about radio and cinema, 1920-1945, from your study of one or more of the following: Charlie Chaplin; Leni Riefenstahl; Bing Crosby?

2010: What was the impact of Anglo-American popular culture on Europe, 1920 - 1945?


Ordinary Level:
2015, Dictatorship and Democracy, Part B:
Write a short paragraph on Bing Crosby's contribution to radio and cinema. (30)

2012, Dictatorship and Democracy, Part B:
Write a short paragraph on Charlie Chaplin. (30)

2011, Dictatorship and Democracy, Part C:
2009, Dictatorship and Democracy, Part C:
What did Charlie Chaplin and/or Bing Crosby contribute to entertainment? (40)

2010, Dictatorship and Democracy, Part B:
2008, Dictatorship and Democracy, Part B:
Write a short paragraph on the growth in radio and cinema, 1920 - 1945. (30)

2007, Dictatorship and Democracy, Part C:
How did Bing Crosby and/or Charlie Chaplin become stars of popular culture during the period, 1920 - 1945? (40)

2006, Dictatorship and Democracy, Part B:
Write a short paragraph on Charlie Chaplin or Bing Crosby. (30)



A woman tunes in to her radio station in the 1920s.





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