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Modernism

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  1. Modernism --the breaking away from established rules, traditions, and conventions; fresh ways of looking at a human’s position and function in the universe - avant-garde: exploration, path-finding, innovation, invention, something new or advanced, revolutionary

  2. Influence of Modernism • Began in closing years of 19th c. • Had a wide influence internationally during 20th c. • Pertains to poetry, fiction, drama, painting, music, and architecture • At its most active: France 1890-1940s; Germany 1890s-1920s; Russia 1920s (pre-revolution); England 1900, 1920-30s; America 1915ish-interwar period

  3. Overview of Modernism • Attempted to move from the bonds of Realist literature • Introduced concepts such as disjointed timelines beyond classic uses of in medias res and flashbacks • Distinguished by emancipatory metanarrative—a story about a story, encompassing and explaining other ‘little stories’ within totalizing schemas

  4. Overview of Modernism • Transcends the limitation of the Realist novel’s concern for social and historical change • View work as aesthetic object rather than representation of reality • This is largely demonstrated through the use of stream of consciousness writing—giving the written equivalent of the character’s thought processes (through interior monologues or his / her sensory reactions to external occurrences)

  5. Overview of Modernism • Also defined by its move away from Romanticism—venturing into subject matter that is clearly mundane • Features pessimism as a clear rejection of the optimism in Victorian literature • A common motif is that of the alienated individual, though some works are marked by the absence of a central, heroic figure

  6. Formal Characteristics • Open form/free verse • Discontinuous narrative • Intertextuality/classic allusions • Borrowings from other cultures and languages • Unconventional use of metaphor • Metanarrative • Fragmentation • Incoherence of character • Multiple narrative points of view (parallax)

  7. 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 unimaginable future • Disillusionment • Rejection of history and the substitution of a mythical past, borrowed without chronology • Product of the metropolis, of cities and urbanscapes • Overwhelming technological changes of the 20th century • Loss of sense of tradition

  8. The Three Amigos • Marx, Freud, and Darwin • Unsettled human subject from “center of the universe” mentality • Reveal dependence on laws and structures out of our control and sometimes completely unknown • Ideological uncertainty (built on lost civilization, loss of tradition) • Series of contradictions and paradoxes

  9. Vs. Contemporary • Contemporary or Postmodern is an era (written after 1960) • Postmodernism follows most of the same ideas listed above • There are some differences – simple version 1.Modernist writers see fragmentation as tragic; they also believe their works supply the needed coherence and unity civilization has lost 2. Both are products of their time periods