Modernism

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Modernism

  1. 1. 1915 - 1946
  2. 2. Modernism    As a term, Modernism refers to an experimental style of visual arts, literature, and music that arose after the first World War. Modernist works were avant garde, or against the norms of the time in their form and content. Generally, the content of Modernist works represents disillusionment and fragmentation brought about by the loss of optimism in humanity.
  3. 3. Between World Wars: Europe     Many historians have described the period between the two World Wars as a “traumatic coming of age.” In England and Europe, the first World War left death, destruction, and disillusionment in its wake. The Spanish and Russian Revolutions bring further instability. The new technology of grenades, poison gas, machine guns, and bombs brings death to countless civilians and soldiers.
  4. 4. Between Wars: America     The balance of power shifts from Europe to the United States. In a post-Industrial Revolution era, America had moved from an agrarian nation to an urban and suburban nation. World War I pushes Europe and America into economic instability leading to the Great Depression and hardships (think Germany) The lives of these Europeans and Americans were radically different from those of their parents.
  5. 5. Social Norms/Cultural Sureties     Women were given the right to vote in 1920. Hemlines raised; Margaret Sanger introduces the idea of birth control. Young people begin to rebel against the strict moral codes of the Victorian pre-war era. Karl Marx’s ideas flourish; the Bolshevik Revolution overthrows Russia’s czarist government and establishes the Soviet Union.
  6. 6. Literary Themes      Breakdown of social norms and cultural sureties Alienation of the individual Disillusionment of individual with modern world Valorization of the despairing individual in the force of an unmanageable future Product of the metropolis, of cities and urbanscapes
  7. 7. Roots of Modernism       Influenced by Walt Whitman’s free verse Prose poetry of British writer Oscar Wilde British writer Robert Browning’s subversion of the poetic self Emily Dickinson’s compression of language. English Symbolist writers, especially Arthur Symons British War poets expressions of disillusionment and angst over the Great War.
  8. 8. Urbanscapes    Life in the city differs from life on the farm; writers began to explore city life. Conflicts begin to center on society. The individual begins to feel isolated from society.
  9. 9. The Harlem Renaissance      Also known as the “New Negro Movement” A flowering of artistic contributions from the world or literature Poets included Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Claude McKay Writers included Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God Wide variety of styles and themes, reflecting the modernist trend
  10. 10. Valorization of the Individual    Characters are heroic in the face of a future they can’t control. Demonstrates the uncertainty felt by individuals living in this era. Examples include Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby, Lt. Henry in A Farewell to Arms
  11. 11. Theme of Alienation  Sense of alienation in literature: – The character belongs to a “lost generation” (Gertrude Stein) – The character suffers from a “dissociation of sensibility”— separation of thought from feeling (T. S. Eliot) – The character has “a Dream deferred” (Langston Hughes).
  12. 12. Modernist Writers  James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, Gertrude Stein, T. S. Eliot, E. E. Cummings, Robert Frost  Harlem Renaissance writers such as Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, James Weldon Johnson, Countee Cullen, Jean Toomer, Richard Wright
  13. 13. Modernist Fiction     Embraced nontraditional syntax and forms. The birth of “stream of consciousness” brings a characters uninhibited feelings to the reader Challenged tradition Writers wanted to move beyond Realism to introduce such concepts as disjointed timelines. An overarching themes of Modernism were “emancipation" and “disillusionment”
  14. 14. Science Fiction and Dystopias (anti-utopian literature)    The genre of science fiction takes off with works like H.G. Well’s The War of the Worlds. Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World depicts a frightening society where human beings are genetically engineered to perform socially. In addition to George Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984, Huxley’s work centers of the fears of state control, propaganda and technological/industrial growth.
  15. 15. Modernist Poetry: Imagism School of Imagism: Ezra Pound leads the movement - H.D. [Hilda Doolittle], Amy Lowell, William Carlos Williams  – – – Direct treatment of the “thing,” whether subjective or objective. To use absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation. As regarding rhythm: to compose in sequence of the musical phrase, not in sequence of the metronome.
  16. 16. Imagist Poetry “IN A STATION OF THE METRO” Ezra Pound The apparition of these faces in the crowd; Petals on a wet, black bough.
  17. 17. Imagist Poetry  This Is Just To Say by William Carlos Williams I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox and which you were probably saving for breakfast Forgive me they were delicious so sweet and so cold
  18. 18. Modernist Poetry  William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), an Irish nationalist, pens these prophetic lines in his poem “The Second Coming” (1921): Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold: Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.  T.S. Elliot (1888-1965) writes “The Wasteland” and “The Hollow Men”, in which he describes through dense imagery, disconnected narrative, and cryptic allusions, the desolation of a modern life devoid of meaning.
  19. 19. Modernist Poetry Samples William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) THE SECOND COMING Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity. Surely some revelation is at hand; Surely the Second Coming is at hand. The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand; A shape with lion body and the head of a man, A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun, Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds. The darkness drops again but now I know That twenty centuries of stony sleep Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

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