Circuit Chautauqua

From Rural Education to Popular Entertainment in Early Twentieth Century America

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About the Book

In the late 19th century the chautauqua movement became a popular form of adult education and entertainment in the United States. With noted lyceum speakers (such as Teddy Roosevelt and William Jennings Bryan) and local talent, the movement spread throughout the country and was particularly popular in the rural areas of the Midwest.
An overview of the lyceum and of adult education in 19th century America is followed by an examination of the rise of the circuit chautauqua. Its popularity during the 1920s is detailed as is its demise, brought on by the Great Depression and the rise of the film industry.

About the Author(s)

John E. Tapia teaches at Missouri Western State College in St. Joseph.

Bibliographic Details

John E. Tapia
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 240
Bibliographic Info: 27 photos, appendix, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2009 [1997]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4084-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Foreword by Robert A. McCown      1

Preface      3

Introduction      7

I. ADULT EDUCATION IN NINETEENTH-CENTURY AMERICA      11

Lyceum      12

Permanent Chautauqua      19

Introduction of Circuit Chautauqua      25

II. THE MOVEMENT TOWARD STANDARDIZATION AND COMMERCIALIZATION      27

The Standard Chautauqua      27

Standardization and Commercialization in America      29

Growth of Circuit Chautauqua Into Big Business      30

The Selling and Promotion of Circuit Chautauqua      32

Other Circuit Chautauqua Jobs      38

“Chautauqua Week” and the Program      45

Tracing Changes in America, 1904 to 1930      47

III. BEGINNINGS IN RURAL AMERICA      48

The Country Versus the City      49

Pervasiveness of the Chautauqua Lecturer      53

Musical Features      61

Dramatic Arts      66

Children’s Activities, Magicians, and Illusionists      72

Circuit Chautauqua in Rural America      76

IV. COMING OF AGE: THE MOVEMENT INTO THE NATIONAL MARKETPLACE BEFORE WORLD WAR I      78

Factors of Expansion      78

The Lecture “Message” Begins to Lapse      82

Shakespeare, Drama, and Readers      90

The Versatility of the Music      96

Ethnic Images      100

Junior Chautauqua and “Entertainers”      105

Beyond the Rural Heartland      109

V. “MAKING THE WORLD SAFE FOR DEMOCRACY”: CHAUTAUQUA GOES TO WAR      111

Silence on the Platform      111

Chautauqua Goes to War      113

The “War Tax”      116

Lectures      117

Music and Patriotism      125

Dramatic Arts      134

The Junior Chautauqua      140

The Nineteenth Amendment      144

Chautauqua as a Gateway into the 1920s      145

VI. THE POST–WORLD WAR I ERA: FROM “THE HAND AT THE NATION’S THROAT” TO COMEDY      146

Henry Cabot Lodge and the League of Nations      146

Disarmament and Chautauqua Rhetoric      147

Bolshevism in America      149

Chautauqua Rhetoric in the Postwar Era      151

The Response to Unrest      155

Financial Troubles Begin      157

“Straight from Broadway”      160

Fading from Center Stage: Opera, Readers,

Impersonators, and Magicians      165

The Musical Variety Continues      170

The Diversity of Exhibitions for Community Youth      173

The Call of the 1920s: Entertainment and Comedy      177

VII. THE JUBILEE YEAR AND THE VESTIGES OF HOPE      178

Chautauqua Success      178

Chautauqua and Modern America      184

The Program: From Applesauce to “Leisure Time”      187

Music: Sidesplitting “Climaxes and Anti-Climaxes”      190

The Lecturer as Media Figure      191

Chautauqua as a Stepping Stone: From Late Nineteenth- to Twentieth-Century Entertainment      195

The “Spirit” of Chautauqua      201

Life After Death      203

VIII. CIRCUIT CHAUTAUQUA AS AN AGENT OF SOCIAL CHANGE      205

Appendix      209

Selected Bibliography      215

Index      219

Book Reviews & Awards

“traces the history…from its origins in nineteenth-century…to its demise in the late twenties…resurrects dozens of performers who might otherwise have been lost to posterity”—American Studies.