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Introduction to Modernism

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Introduction to Modernism

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Introduction to Modernism

  1. 1. THE MODERN AGE 1915-1946
  2. 2. BASICSOF MODERNLITERATURE
  3. 3. BASICSOF MODERN LITERATURE • A period of sudden and unexpected breaks with traditional ways of viewing and interacting with the world. Experimentation and individualism became virtues, where in the past they were often heartily discouraged. • Pursuit of the American Dream • America as the new Eden • Optimism • Importance of the individual
  4. 4. HISTORICAL SETTING In the early 1900s, numerous technological advances made people’s lives easier. • Escalators, air conditioners, teabags, better lightbulbs, E=MC², Model T (car), instant coffee, movies • In World War I, more than 5 million people were killed during the war. • However, in 1914, war in Europe broke out • Modern writers Ernest Hemingway, E.E. Cummings, and John Dos Pasos experienced the war first hand This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-NC- ND
  5. 5. MORE HISTORY In 1919, Prohibition was instituted in the U.S., but this led to the underground sales of alcohol. Bootlegging, speakeasies, and gang warfare in major cities followed. In the 1920’s, the nation finally surged and new major cities around the country were formed. Radio, jazz, and movies filled imaginations
  6. 6. THELASTOF THE HISTORY • F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote about both the glamourous and pitiful sides of the American dream in The Great Gatsby. • Artists and writers flocked to New York’s Greenwich Village. • In 1929, the stock market crashed and the United States, and the rest of the world, went into the Great Depression. • In 1939, war in Europe broke out again. World War II lasted until 1945 when the United States introduced the Atomic Age by dropping two atom bombs on Japan.
  7. 7. THE BIRTH OF MODERNISM
  8. 8. THE BIRTH OF MODERNISM • WWI ended the years of optimism of the early 20th Century. • People no longer trusted the values of the world and sought new ideas that were more applicable to modern life. • Modernists experimented with a wide variety of new approaches and techniques.
  9. 9. MODERNISM “Make it New”
  10. 10. SCIENTIFIC RATIONALISM • During 19th Century, the Enlightenment notion of the world as a machine—something whose parts could be named and seen to function— came back into favor. • Positivism—the 19th Century belief that everything, including human nature, could be explained and understood through science. • Modernism rejects this idea.
  11. 11. AN UGLY WAR • WW I was the first “total war” in which modern weapons spared no one, including civilians. • The casualties suffered by the participants in World War I dwarfed those of previous wars: some 8,500,000 soldiers died as a result of wounds and/or disease. • War was increasingly mechanized from 1914 and produced casualties even when nothing important was happening.
  12. 12. CIVILIANS • It has been estimated that the number of civilian deaths attributable to the war was higher than the military casualties, or around 13,000,000. These civilian deaths were largely caused by starvation, exposure, disease, military encounters, and massacres. • The enormity of the war had undermined humankind's faith in Western society and culture. • A generation of young men lost. • Survivors reexamine bases of certainly, structure of knowledge, systems of belief and authorities. • Creating a feeling of hopelessness. • Postwar modernist literature reflected a sense of disillusionment and fragmentation.
  13. 13. WASSILY KANDINSKY, COMPOSITION VIII, 1923 OIL ON CANVAS (SOLOMON R. GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM, NEW YORK)
  14. 14. HENRI BERGSON • Attacked scientific rationality as artificial and unreal. • Saw reality as a fluid, living force. • Proposed intuition, instead of quantitative and logical inquiry.
  15. 15. SIGMUND FREUD • Stressed subconscious motives and instinctual drives. • After Freud, impossible to ignore psychological undercurrents of human behaviors. • Writers deal with subconscious motivations. • Employ stream of consciousness technique similar to Freud’s therapeutic tactic of free association.
  16. 16. ALBERT EINSTEIN • Theory of relativity abandoned the concepts of absolute motion and the absolute difference of space and time. • Theories became interpreted in popular culture that we cannot know anything for sure; all knowledge is relative.
  17. 17. EXPRESSIONISM • Refused direct representation of reality. • Favor of expressing an inner vision, emotion, or spiritual reality. • The Scream by Edvard Munch evokes a whole realm of spiritual agony.
  18. 18. SURREALISM • Aim to bring a fuller awareness of human experience—both conscious and unconscious states.
  19. 19. MODERNIST LITERATURE • Urging experimentation in both literary form and subject matter, American poet Ezra Pound advised authors to “make it new.” • The choice of subject matter was often a revolt against the traditional conception of what was appropriate for literature. • Experiments with point of view and narrative structure. • Rejection of chronological and narrative continuity. • Literature and language as a game. • Precise images and common speech. • Literature = art object produced by consummate craft rather than as a statement of emotion.
  20. 20. PIET MONDRIAN, COMPOSITION A, 1923 OIL ON CANVAS (GALLERIA NAZIONALE D'ARTE MODERNA E CONTEMPORANEA, ROME)
  21. 21. MODERNIST LITERATURE Writers sought to reflect the fragmentation of the modern world by constructing their work out of fragments, omitting the expositions, transitions, resolutions, and explanations used in traditional literature. Modern poets abandoned traditional forms in favor of free verse. They often forced readers to draw their own conclusions.
  22. 22. MODERN MOVEMENTS
  23. 23. MODERN MOVEMENTS •Imagism (1909-1917) - Poets rebelled against sentimental poetry and instead demanded hard, clear expressions, concrete images, and the language of everyday speech. •The Expatriates – Postwar disenchantment led many American writers to become expatriates, or exiles, in Europe. •Included Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and T.S. Eliot
  24. 24. OTHER MODERN MOVEMENTS
  25. 25. OTHER MODERN MOVEMENTS New approaches: • Writers practiced the stream-of- consciousness technique to produce novels • Poets stretched boundaries by paying attention to wordplay, typography, and punctuation • American authors finally began to garner international renown
  26. 26. NOBEL PRIZEWINNERS Sinclair Lewis (novelist) Eugene O’Neill (playwright) Pearl S. Buck (novelist) T.S. Eliot (poet) William Faulkner (novelist) Hemingway Steinbeck
  27. 27. THEHARLEM RENAISSANCE Beginning in 1921 in Harlem, New York, African-American writers, most of them newcomers from the South, led a burst of creativity by black writers that changed the landscape of American art. The writers of this movement opened the door for African-American artists who followed them.

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