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MODERNISM

CULTURAL CONNECTIONS

DEFINITION
MODERNISM (1900-1940)
A revolutionary movement encompassing all
of the creative arts that had its roots in the
1890s, a transitional period during which
artists and writers sought to liberate
themselves from the constraints and polite
conventions we associate with Victorianism.

Formal characteristics
Open form
Poets who write in open forms usually insist on the form
growing out of the writing process, i.e. the poems follow
what the words and phrase suggest during the
composition process, rather than being fitted into any
pre-existing plan. Some do employ vestiges of traditional
devices but most regard them as a hindrance to sincerity
or creativity.

Free Verse (also at times referred to as vers libre) is a


term describing various styles of poetry that are not written
using strict meter or rhyme, but that still are recognizable
as 'poetry' by virtue of complex patterns of one sort or
another that readers can perceive to be part of a coherent
whole

Juxtaposition
when 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 was slouched
gracefully" is a juxtaposition.

Intertextuality
the shaping of texts' meanings by other texts. It can
refer to an authors borrowing and transformation of a
prior text or to a readers referencing of one text in
reading another.

Classical Allusions
a stylistic device or trope, in which one refers covertly
or indirectly to an object or circumstance that has
occurred or existed in an external context
Allusion differs from the similar term intertextuality in
that it is an intentional effort.

Unconventional use of Metaphor


Borrowing from other cultures and
languages
Discontinuous narrative

Thematic characteristics
Breakdown of social norms and cultural sureties
Dislocation of meaning and sense from its normal
context
Valorization of the despairing individual in the face of an
unmanageable future
Disillusionment
Rejection of history and substitution of a mythical past,
borrowed without chronology
Product of the metropolis of cities and urbanscapes
Stream of consciousness

Canonical Modernist Authors

T.S. Eliot
W.B. Yeats
James Joyce
Virginia Woolf
Ernest Hemingway
Franz Kafka
Gertrude Stein
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Ezra Pound

Elements of Modernism
Surrealism
a movement stating that the liberation of our
mind, and subsequently the liberation of the
individual self and society, can be achieved by
exercising the imaginative faculties of the
"unconscious mind" to the attainment of a
dream-like state different from, or ultimately
truer than, everyday reality.

Futurism
passionate loathing of ideas from the past,
especially political and artistic traditions. He
and others also espoused a love of speed,
technology and violence. The car, the plane,
the industrial town were all legendary for the
Futurists, because they represented the
technological triumph of man over nature.

Dadaism
Dada sought to fight art with art. For
everything that art stood for, Dada was to
represent the opposite. Where art was
concerned with aesthetics, Dada ignored
aesthetics. If art were to have at least an
implicit or latent message, Dada strove to
have no meaning interpretation of Dada is
dependent entirely on the viewer. If art is to
appeal to sensibilities, Dada is to offend.

Imagism
The Imagists rejected the sentiment and
artifice typical of much Romantic and Victorian
poetry. Imagism called for a return to what
were seen as more Classical values, such as
directness of presentation, and economy of
language, as well as a willingness to
experiment with non-traditional verse forms.
Historically, Imagism is also significant
because it was the first organized Modernist
English-language literary movement or group

Vorticism
short lived British art movement of the early
20th century. It is considered to be the only
significant British movement of the early
twentieth century but lasted less than three
years. The style grew out of Cubism, but is
more closely related to Futurism in its
embrace of dynamism, the machine age and
all things modern.

Black Modernism
Duality of African American experience
Slavery vs. Constitutional declaration of
equality for all
Freedom granted by Civil War vs. Jim Crow

Commingling of religion and folk values


Christianity vs. Ancestor Worship
Bible beliefs vs. superstition

African American as social other

Black Modernist Writers


Ralph Ellison
Invisible Man

Melvin Tolson
Libretto for the Republic of Liberia

Robert Hayden
Middle Passage

Modernism vs. Postmodernism


Postmodernism occurred after WWII
Postmodernism rejects the order
modernists try to instill in their work
through allusion, myth and symbol
Postmodernists take modernism to the
extreme
Postmodern authors do not see art as a
restorative force, merely reflective