Literary Modernism Embraced nontraditional syntax and forms. Challenged tradition Writers wanted to move beyond Realism to introduce such concepts as disjointed timelines. An overarching theme of Modernism was “emancipation”
Difference between Realism and Modernism Whereas REALISM MODERNISM Emphasized Argued for cultural absolutism, and relativism, Believed that a And believed that single reality could people make their be determined own meaning in the through the world. observation of nature
Value Differences in the Modern WorldPre-Modern World Modern World (Early 20th Century)Ordered ChaoticMeaningful FutileOptimistic PessimisticStable FluctuatingFaith Loss of faithMorality/Values Collapse of Morality/ValuesClear Sense of Identity Confused Sense of Identity and Place in the World
Between World Wars Many historians have described the period between the two World Wars as a “traumatic coming of age.” In a post-Industrial Revolution era, America had moved from an agrarian nation to an urban nation. The lives of these Americans were radically different from those of their parents.
Social Snapshot of the Times Result of Political Turmoil Revolutionary Ideologies Rise Fascism The separation and persecution or denial of equality to a certain group based on race, creed, or origin Nazism Socialism featuring racism, expansionism and obedience to a strong leader Communism Control of the means of production should rest in the hands of the laborers.
Social Snapshot of the Times Scientific Revolution Quantum theory Explainsthe nature of matter and energy on the atomic and subatomic level Principle of Uncertainty In quantum mechanics: increasing the accuracy of measurement of one observable quantity increases the uncertainty with which another may be known
Snapshot of the Times:Implications for Nature of Reality Many-worlds (multi-verse) theory As soon as the potential exists for any object to be in any state, the universe of the object transmutes into a series of parallel universes equaling the number of possible states in which an object can exist. Stephen Hawking posits the possibility for interaction between universes. Copenhagen interpretation: nothing exists until it is measured: Schrödingers cat (dead and alive)
Forces Behind Modernism The sense that our culture has no center, no values. Paradigm shift from the closed, finite, measurable, cause- and-effect universe of the 19th century to an open, relativistic, changing, strange universe;
Modernism in ArtCubism, Dadaism, Surrealism,Futurism
The Armory Show: InternationalExhibition of Modern Art, 1913 Watershed date in American art Introduced astonished New Yorkers, accustomed to realistic art, to modern art; Teddy Roosevelt said, “That’s not art!”
Dadaism Dadaism –deliberately irrational a protest against the barbarism of the War and oppressive intellectual rigidity; Anti-art Strives to have no meaning Interpretation dependent entirely on the viewer; Intentionally offends.
Surrealism Surrealism Grew out of Dada and automatism. Reveals the unconscious mind in dream images, the irrational, and the fantastic, Impossible combinations of objects depicted in realistic detail.
Futurism Futurism—grew out of Cubism. Added implied motion to the shifting planes and multiple observation points of the Cubists; Celebrated natural as well as mechanical motion and speed. Glorified danger, war, and the machine
Modernism inLiteratureAmerican and U.K. Authors
Roots of Literary 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 English Symbolist writers, especially Arthur Symons
American Modernist Writers 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
English/Irish Modernist Writers James Joyce (Ulysses, Portrait of an Artist) Virginia Wolfe (Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse) Samuel Beckett (Waiting for Godot) James Joyce D.H. Lawrence (Lady Chatterly’s Lover) Samuel Beckett
Imagism School of Imagism: Ezra Pound, 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.
Characteristics Perspectivism Inner psychology of the mind Changes in perception of language Emphasis on the experimental Juxtapostion Discontinuous narrative Intertextuality Classical allusions Borrowing from cultures and other languages
Characteristics of Modernism in Literature Literature exhibits perspective Meaning comes from the individual’s perspective and is thus personalized; A single story might be told from the perspective of several different people, with the assumption that the “truth” is somewhere in the middle
Characteristics of Modernism in Literature Inner psychological reality or “interiority” is represented o Stream of consciousness—portraying the character’s inner monologue
Characteristic of Modernism in Literature Perception of language changes: No longer seen as transparent, allowing us to “see through” to reality; But now considered the way an individual constructs reality; Language is “thick” with multiple meanings and varied connotative forces.
Characteristic of Modernism in Literature Emphasis on the experimental Art is artifact rather than reality; Organized non-sequentially Experience portrayed as layered, allusive, discontinuous, using fragmentation and juxtaposition. Ambiguous endings—open endings which are seen as more representative of reality.
Juxtaposition Two images that are otherwise not commonly brought together appear side by side or structurally close together, thereby forcing the reader to stop and reconsider the meaning of the text through the contrasting images, ideas, motifs, etc. For example, “He slouched alertly” is a juxtaposition.
Discontinuous Narrative Narrative moves back and forth through time. Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury or As I Lay Dying
Intertextuality Intertextuality is a relationship between two or more texts that quote from one another, allude to one another, or otherwise connect. Faulkner’s The Sound & the Fury Title related to Shakespeare’s Macbeth Joyce’s Ulysses Title and work related to The Odyssey
Themes Breakdown of social norms and cultural sureties Alienation of the individual Valorization of the despairing individual in the force of an unmanageable future Product of the metropolis, of cities and urbanscapes
Social Norms/Cultural Sureties Women were given the right to vote in 1920. Hemlines raised; Margaret Sanger introduces the idea of birth control. Karl Marx’s ideas flourish; the Bolshevik Revolution overthrows Russia’s czarist government and establishes the Soviet Union. Writers begin to explore these new ideas.
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).
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
Urbanscapes Life in the city differs from life on the farm; writers began to explore city life. Conflicts begin to center on society.