Dennison Hist a390 cultural revolutions

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Dennison Hist a390 cultural revolutions

  1. 1. Cultural Revolutions? Depicting the War Paul Nash, We Are Making a New World (1918), collection of the Imperial War Museum, London
  2. 2. • “war was a product of modernism rather than modernism a product of the war” Modris Ekstein, Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age (1989) • self-consciousness • experimental (with forms) • rejection of realism/tradition Pablo Picasso, Portrait of Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, 1910, The Art Institute of Chicago Modernism and War
  3. 3. Finding larger meanings in war: Intellectuals, Artists, Soldiers June 1915 “Manifesto of Celebrities” rejected artificial “Western civilization” with its ideas of democracy, materialism, commercialism in favor of German culture (Kultur) imbued with inner contemplation (Innerlichkeit), spirit (Geist), morality. British a nation of money-grubbing shopkeepers and imperialists, unable to compete with the culture of Beethoven, Goethe, and Nietzsche. Germany manly; French and British not. Thomas Mann’s “Observations of an Apolitical Man” (1918): “I myself confess that I am deeply convinced that the German people will never be able to love political democracy simply because they cannot love politics itself, and that the much decried “authoritarian state” is and remains the one that is proper and becoming to the German people, and the one they basically want.” Jűnger’s Storm of Steel (1920) used storm trooper (tactic created in 1916) as new ultra-militaristic, anti-bourgeois soldier who discarded old society for new morality. War molded civilians into new human beings.
  4. 4. Dada! Rejection of this and everything else: 1916 at Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich café. Cultural nihilism that said no to everything including war. “We want to end the war with nothing.” Cover of the first edition of Dada by Tristan Tzara; Zurich, 1917 Hugo Ball performing at Cabaret Voltaire in 1916
  5. 5. Dada Manifesto by Hugo Ball. Read at the first public by Dada soirée, Zurich, July 14, 1916. . . . . How does one achieve eternal bliss? By saying dada. How does one become famous? By saying dada. With a noble gesture and delicate propriety. Till one goes crazy. Till one loses consciousness. How can one get rid of everything that smacks of journalism, worms, everything nice and right, blinkered, moralistic, europeanised, enervated? By saying dada. Dada is the world soul, dada is the pawnshop. Dada is the world's best lily-milk soap. Dada Mr Rubiner, dada Mr Korrodi. Dada Mr Anastasius Lilienstein. In plain language: the hospitality of the Swiss is something to be profoundly appreciated. And in questions of aesthetics the key is quality. I shall be reading poems that are meant to dispense with conventional language, no less, and to have done with it. Dada Johann Fuchsgang Goethe. Dada Stendhal. Dada Dalai Lama, Buddha, Bible, and Nietzsche. Dada m'dada. Dada mhm dada da. It's a question of connections, and of loosening them up a bit to start with. I don't want words that other people have invented. All the words are other people's inventions. I want my own stuff, my own rhythm, and vowels and consonants too, matching the rhythm and all my own. If this pulsation is seven yards long, I want words for it that are seven yards long. Mr Schulz's words are only two and a half centimetres long. It will serve to show how articulated language comes into being. I let the vowels fool around. I let the vowels quite simply occur, as a cat meows . . . Words emerge, shoulders of words, legs, arms, hands of words. Au, oi, uh. One shouldn't let too many words out. A line of poetry is a chance to get rid of all the filth that clings to this accursed language, as if put there by stockbrokers' hands, hands worn smooth by coins. I want the word where it ends and begins. Dada is the heart of words. Each thing has its word, but the word has become a thing by itself. Why shouldn't I find it? Why can't a tree be called Pluplusch, and Pluplubasch when it has been raining? The word, the word, the word outside your domain, your stuffiness, this laughable impotence, your stupendous smugness, outside all the parrotry of your self-evident limitedness. The word, gentlemen, is a public concern of the first importance.
  6. 6. Hannah Höch, Cut with the Dada Kitchen Knife through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany (1919)
  7. 7. Modernism and the Creation of Cultural Memory • Was war a dividing line between innocence and disillusionment? • Did a new generational consciousness emerge and if so what did the “children of `14” create? • Did modernism “triumph” over traditionalism or did tradition “win” out?
  8. 8. Trench Poets and the Myth of the War Experience (MWE) • George L Mosse, Fallen Soldiers: Reshaping the Memory of the World Wars and “Myth of the War Experience” (MWE): The creation of or shaping of meaning of the war experience. Has to have more meaning than just mass death, has to be for something. • Mosse argued: “The reality of the war experience came to be transformed into what one might call the Myth of the War Experience, which looked back upon the war as a meaningful and even sacred event.” (p. 7)
  9. 9. Refashioning the Memory of War • MWE: Masked and legitimized war experience; displaced reality of war. • MWE sanctified war experience. Nation provided with new depth of religious feeling, new saints and martyrs, new places of worship. • Trivialized it. War represented through objects of daily life (kitsch). • Transcendent: Personal regeneration tied to national regeneration. “War as a communal experience was perhaps the most seductive part of the MWE, enabling men to confront and transcend death, and the idealized common soldier was an indispensable part of this myth, as well as an example of the new man who would redeem the nation.” (Mosse, p. 65)
  10. 10. Domesticating War Tankard made from a shell case by a sapper at Ypres Kitchener Commemorative plate depicting scenes from WWI from Till & Son/s Rigid airship pilot badges
  11. 11. The cult of the fallen soldier (CFS) For Germany particularly: Centerpiece to Myth and focal point of the “religion of nationalism after the war” (p. 7) CFS: Praise for the simple soldier as the true representative of the people and admiration for his strength, common sense, and courage CFS: Symbolized all that youth could be. “Greek in harmony, proportions and controlled strength”—Greek Ideal combined Modern weapons—nude with machine gun or a gladiator with a steel helmet and rifle. Transcendent!
  12. 12. History Loves Irony • Fussell: “Every war is ironic because every war is worse than expected. Every war constituted an irony of situation because its means are so melodramatically disproportionate to its presumed ends.” (p. 7) Eight million people destroyed because 2 people (Franz Ferdinand and Sophie) shot. WWI the most ironic war because “It reversed the Ideas of Progress.” (p. 8) Why so ironic? Starts out with so much innocence and such strong beliefs in established values (honor and glory). War will make innocence lost and values an obscenity. • Jay Winter in Remembering War: Irony British response not shared by other combatants (e.g. French writing more earnest; more directly affected by warfare or national character?). Winter: “British intellectuals did indeed privilege irony in a way which has informed the construction of a canon of war literature.” (p. 118). Irony “explodes heroic pretensions.” (Winter, p. 123)
  13. 13. Defining Irony • Gr. Eironeia, originally “dissimulation,” especially through understatement Modern usage-understatement where “expressed meaning is mild, and the intended meaning is intense” (American folk humor typically uses overstatement) • Context important (“wonderful weather” when it’s not) • Contraction or foreshadowing often used in irony, also naiveté (innocence or simplicity) • Dramatic irony (think Greek plays): Spectators know more than the protagonist, Character reacts in a way contrary to what is appropriate or wise, parody, and marked contrast between what the character understands and what text demonstrates about character’s actions • Robert Graves sums up the British sense of irony about the war experience: “only those who tell lies about the war can actually tell the truth.” (p. 124)— What makes this even more ironic is that Graves’ great uncle Leopold van Ranke, the great German historian.
  14. 14. Oh! What a Literary War! How to describe the generation of 1914 and their outlook? They describe themselves! The first great literate war. Higher rate of literacy than previous major wars. Men and women write a lot. Shape the cultural memory. War Poems and Imagery and Language Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967) Wilfred Owen Robert GravesCharles Hamilton Sorley
  15. 15. Why does poetry matter? People wrote and read poetry! Scan of a final draft of Anthem for Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen, penned by the author (1920).
  16. 16. How to respond? • Cling to old modes of thought? Embrace killing? Spiritual confusion? • “un-ironic” responses: French infantry lieutenant Alfred Joubaine in diary shortly before killed “Humanity is mad! It must be mad to do what it is doing. What a massacre! What scenes of horror and carnage! I cannot find words to translate my impressions. Hell cannot be so terrible. Men are mad.” (Ellis, Eye-Deep, p. 5). • How to find the words? How to describe the unimaginable? • Poets “wrote to express their horror of a war that they could hardly comprehend as a meaningful part of the historical process. The horror and the confusion are the enduring message in what they wrote. For them the war had no meaning and the ideals that had sustained them in the beginning had become an irrelevancy.” (Ellis, MG, 145).
  17. 17. Rebecca West, The Return of the Soldier (1918) Capt. Chris Baldry shell-shocked; suffers from memory loss; sent home from front to recuperate, retreated into past and memory of love of working-class Margaret. Only past makes any sense to him. “Present”: 36 and married to another woman (upper-class Kitty). Kitty accuses him of pretending. Jenny (Chris’ sister and narrator): Realized that Margaret represented soul; rest is material world and inconsequential. Margaret figures out what will cure him so that he can return to his wife and to the front. A choice between happiness and reality (or truth), even though unhappy, truth must win out otherwise “He would not be quite a man.” (p. 88). Chris returns to reality and to the front. “That flooded trench in Flanders under that sky more full of lying death than clouds, to that No Man’s Land where bullets fall like rain on the rotting faces of the dead . . .” (p. 90). Last line of the novel: “He’s cured!” (Kitty, p.90)
  18. 18. Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth Cover of the first 1933 edition Vera Brittain’s “Superflourous Women” and war
  19. 19. The Birth of the Modern Novel: Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway (1925) • One June Day in 1923: Septimus Warren Smith sees dead Evans everywhere (friend of Septimus killed in the War). Septimus decorated veteran, had been “one of the first to volunteer.” (p. 94) In the trenches he developed “manliness.” “For now that it was all over, truce signed, and the dead buried, he had, especially in the evening, these sudden thunder-claps of fear.” (p. 95) • He was going mad. Doctors consulted. “Dr. Holmes said that there was nothing the matter with him.” (p. 73) Another doctor, Sir William Bradshaw puts it down to “not having a sense of proportion.”(p. 106) Sir William: “We all have our moments of depression.” (p. 107) Kills himself. Clarissa Dalloway, who was hosting a party when she heard the news of his suicide, is upset because it upset her and put a shadow over her party. (She did not know Smith.)
  20. 20. The Modern Novel and the Modern Man Septimus Warren Smith fictional example of shell-shocked veterans Presence remains an ongoing problem, stigmatized. War is over and everyone needs to act “normal” again
  21. 21. Greg: Poem: Siegfried Sassoon, especially The Troops, and Trench Duty. In the book, Red Dust were these the same ANZAC Lighthorse troopers, as failed in Gallipoli? Were there any T.S. Elliot written about WW I? I was hoping to read some in World War One British Poets, noticed there aren't any. Ron: Poems: Robert Graves: “To Lucasta on Going to the War for the Fourth Time” Siegfried Sassoon: “Trench Duty” and “Suicide in the Trenches” John McCrae: “In Flanders Fields” Wilfred Owen: “Disabled” Is Red Dust an anti-war novel? Considering the amount of human death depicted in Red Dust, why does the death of Blackboy seem particularly poignant? Does Boyden’s portrayal of Xavier and Elijah demonstrate the duality of human nature or does it demonstrate that, regardless of the individual war changes and consumes all who participate?
  22. 22. Michael Poem: Wilfred Owen’s “Dulce Et Decorum Est”. How are the roles of women during World War I portrayed in the poem “War Girls “By Jessie Pope? How does Siegfried Sassoon use satire throughout his poems to express his opinions about the war? How do World War I poets such as Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen portray the soldiers who have physical and mental disabilities and their relationship to society? Jennell Poem: "The Target" by Ivor Gurney. These three books we read were all based or written by Allied forces. How would similar memoirs, poetry or novels differ from the A-H and German point of view? Do you think that the thread of humanity within these novels would remain the same at the core of an "enemy" account? Although each novel writes about the opposing side, none of the authors really demonize them to a "character" of evil; why do you think this was?
  23. 23. The Canadian Example: • Compare and contrast Boyden’s depiction of the war experiences of Elijah and Xavier to Brose’s presentations of the same battles (e.g. Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele, Amiens, Cambrai). • Boyden raises some fundamental questions about war. Discuss how he presents these issues and how his novel deals with these questions. Questions include: What is the line between madness and bravery? and a murderer? The hunter and the hunted? • Xavier: “I fight my own struggles just as Elijah does, and every other man, Canadian, English, German, French, Australian, American, Burmese, Austrian, fights his. We all fight on two fronts, the one facing the enemy, the one facing what we do to the enemy.” (Boyden, p. 301) • Compare and contrast Boyden’s depiction of Elijah and Xavier and other member of the First Nations to the image of the First Nations in Talbot’s article. • Nature and War?
  24. 24. Mark Gertler, Merry-Go-Round, 1916. Tate Britain. Images of War
  25. 25. Ludwig Kirchner's Self Portrait As Soldier (1915).
  26. 26. Félix Vallotton, L'église de Souain en silhouette (The Church of Souain, Silhouetted), 1917
  27. 27. Paul Nash, We Are Making a New World (1918)
  28. 28. Gassed (1919) by John Singer Sargent
  29. 29. Detail from Otto Dix's Stormtroopers Advancing Under a Gas Attack, 1924
  30. 30. Flanders (Otto Dix)
  31. 31. Otto Dix, Trench
  32. 32. Otto Dix, War Triptych (1929-32)
  33. 33. Otto Dix, Metropole
  34. 34. Otto Dix, War Cripples Playing Cards (1920)
  35. 35. Otto Dix, Prague Street (1920)
  36. 36. Paul Nash, Spring in the Trenches, Ridge Wood, 1917 (1918), collection of the Imperial War Museum, London
  37. 37. Paul Nash, The Menin Road, 1919
  38. 38. Paul Nash, Wire (1919)
  39. 39. Paul Nash, The Ypres Salient at Night (1918)
  40. 40. Paul Nash, Sunrise, Inverness Copse (1917)
  41. 41. John Nash, Over the Top, 1918
  42. 42. Christopher R. W. Nevinson, After The Push (1917)
  43. 43. Christopher R. W. Nevinson, Paths of Glory (1917)
  44. 44. Christopher R. W. Nevinson, The Harvest of Battle (1918)
  45. 45. Painting of Dazzle-ships in Drydock at Liverpool, Edward Wadsworth, 1919

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