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Modernism & “The Metamorphosis”. Reactions to a changing world. NOT a synonym for “Contemporary” Early 20 th century literary movement “In love with the new” Questions humanity’s humanity Reaction to WWI and its widespread destruction. Rebellion against Realism

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modernism the metamorphosis

Modernism & “The Metamorphosis”

Reactions to a changing world

modernism basics
NOT a synonym for “Contemporary”

Early 20th century literary movement

“In love with the new”

Questions humanity’s humanity

Reaction to WWI and its widespread destruction

Rebellion against Realism

Industry and technology: friend or foe?

Reinvention of the world

Breakdown of traditional beliefs

Art: freedom or prison?

Modernism Basics
social change
Social Change
  • Industrial Revolution provided new technology which in turn provided new opportunities
  • Middle and lower classes gained power; upper classes lost power
  • Communism: best idea ever, or global threat to personal liberty?
  • WWI: massive slaughter, led people to question the wisdom of world leadership and order
breakdown of traditional beliefs
Breakdown of Traditional Beliefs
  • Traditional virtues like reason, order, religion, obedience—questioned.
  • Darwin’s theory of evolution
  • Freud’s theories of the unconscious mind
  • Einstein’s theories of relativity, harnessing the power of the atom
  • Freedom of thought or breakdown of society as it had been known for centuries?
the modern artist search for the new
The Modern Artist/Search for the “New”
  • Total break from past forms, constant search for new ideas
  • Liberation = alienation…
  • Feelings of hostility for “the masses” was shown in the art they created
  • Banded together in “movements”
  • “New” = anything that challenged the public’s expectations of art
  • Search for new forms led to fragmentation , producing many different forms and styles
modernist literature and art
“Nude Descending a Staircase” – Marcel Duchamp

Where’s the nude? Where’s the staircase?

This painting was wholly controversial when first exhibited in 1913—people argued tirelessly over whether or not it truly was “art.”

Modernist Literature and Art
the scream edvard munch
Originally titled “The Scream of Nature”

Expression of angst—German for “anxiety”

The pain and confusion of mere existence

Have you ever felt like this?

“The Scream” – Edvard Munch
kafka s metamorphosis
Kafka’s “Metamorphosis”
  • Originally written in German by a Czech Jew named Franz Kafka
  • Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning and finds his outward appearance has been transformed into that of a horrible, tremendous, hideous bug.
  • Shunned by his family and co-workers and left without any other options, he eventually allows himself to perish and is thrown away with the trash.
  • Commentary on the fragile nature of human life and the strained relationships we have with family and friends
  • Kafka himself had a strained relationship with his father and had trouble making friends and relating to others
reading strategies modern literature
Reading Strategies – Modern Literature
  • Visualize. Modernists rely heavily on imagery.
  • Try to notice what is Modern and “new” in the writing. What makes it original and distinctive?
  • Be alert to anything that challenges your expectations, and remember, the Modern artist’s main goal is to be surprising.
  • Be patient. Patience will be rewarded—sometimes only after repeat readings.
  • Question the writer’s view of the world: is it optimistic or pessimistic?