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Clara Bow in "Children of Divorce" (1927)
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Silent Film "Sex Kitten" Clara Bow A Reflection of the Jazz Age

October 4, 2007

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MACOMB, IL - - To get a better understanding of American culture during the Jazz Age, take a look at silent film star, flapper and "sex kitten" Clara Bow, so says Professor Russell Johnson, a lecturer of U.S. history at the University of Otago in New Zealand.

Johnson will present his findings at Western Illinois University in the lecture "More Than a 'Sex Kitten': Re-imaging the Jazz Age Through the Films of Clara Bow" at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18 in Stipes Hall 121.

He will argue that the era immediately following World War I is best understood as "Clara Bow's America." The silent film icon best known for her portrayal as a 1920s flapper, Johnson says that Bow addressed many of the major issues of the jazz age through her films, including: a woman's place in society, prohibition, crime waves, capital punishment, marriage and divorce, military issues, immigration restriction, mass production economy, eugenics (improving human genetic quality) and more.

Johnson earned his bachelor's degree (1983) in history and mathematics at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and his master's (1987) and Ph.D. (1996) at the University of Iowa. More information is available on his website,

The lecture, which is sponsored by Western's history department, is open free to the public.

For more information on the lecture, contact WIU History Associate Professor Walter Kretchik, or 309/298-1345.

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