The Modern and Postmodern Periods. 1901 - Present. Historical Background. Points to be aware of: Progress in science and technology was helping to make life easier and the world more comprehensible Advances in communication and transportation brought the world closer together
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The Modern and Postmodern Periods 1901 - Present
Historical Background • Points to be aware of: • Progress in science and technology was helping to make life easier and the world more comprehensible • Advances in communication and transportation brought the world closer together • WWI – (1914-1918) about 8.5 million soldiers died from wounds or diseases • WWII – (1939-1945) estimations vary between 35-60 million casualties
The Edwardian Age (1901-1910) • Rigid class distinctions lingered past the Victorian age • Rapid technological and social changes quickly undermined the customs and assumptions of the Victorian Age • Changes included – electricity, the right for women to vote • By 1910 with the crowning of King George V – the nineteenth century life was fading into memory
WWI • 1914 long-standing tensions between European nations erupted • It was ignited by the assassination of Austria-Hungary’s archduke Francis Ferdinand • Germany invaded Belgium and England and France joined together to stop the aggression • They began the war optimistically, but soon were overcome with the realities of this new war • Poison Gas • Massive Artillery • Trench Warfare
WWI cont. • Russia broke out in its own civil war during WWI • The Czar was overthrown and the first Communist state was created – The Soviet Union • An armistice was signed on November 11, 1918 • Monarchies were destroyed by then – imperial Germany, and the Austro-Hungarian empire • An uneasy peace followed the armistice as a result of the harsh conditions of the Treaty of Versailles.
Between Wars • The young generation following WWI was known as the “lost generation” – they were disillusioned and struggled due to a lack of purpose • They masked their unease with the pursuit of pleasure • Fast Cars • Wild Jazz • Giddy Fads • Women finally won the right to vote in 1918 (Age 30) • 1928 – they lowered the voting age to 21 – same as men
Political Developments in Europe • Adolf Hitler began to aggressively expand to Germany’s borders • Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939 • It was this action that made clear the fact that Hitler would only be stopped through violent intervention
WWII • Second global war more destructive than the first • Hitler attempted to eradicate the Jews – killing about 6 million • Germany invaded Russia • Fighting raged from Europe to North Africa, from the mountains of Burma and China to the Hawaiian Islands • Massive bombing raids turned London, Dresden, and Tokyo into infernos • France fell to Germany in 1940 and England had to bear the brunt of German attacks • 1941 – two powerful allies joined England – The United States and The Soviet Union • August 1945 – Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought the war to a brutal and abrupt end.
The End of an Empire • 1922 – Ireland won its independence from Britain • After WWII, the British Empire suffered further dramatic losses • Colonies around the world were striving for independence from British rule – ethnic, racial and border conflicts led to bloodshed in these former colonies • An iron curtain divided Eastern and Western Europe • The United States and the Soviet Union dominated the world
British Society • By the 1960s – Britons had put most of their troubles behind them • However – despite leading fashion changes like rock-and-roll music, fads, and trends, major industries like textiles, steel, and shipbuilding suffered • British society was also changing • Britain’s multiracial population exploded. It includes Caribbean islanders, Indians, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, and Africans • Discrimination often caused riots
Contemporary Britain • Margaret Thatcher was a Conservative and was the first female Prime Minister in England • Came to power in 1979 and had a hands-off approach to the economy • The country did not benefit from “Thatcherism” and she resigned in 1990 • Britain had to adjust to a rapidly changing world • Prospect for peace have increased between Ireland and England, but there is still potential for violence • Wales and Scotland voted to set up their own parliamentary system – so a modern question becomes – what is the purpose of the monarchy? • Even in trial – Briton has always turned to its past for a sense of pride and comfort
Modernism and Postmodernism Literature • Modernism has a commitment to creating new forms and is perhaps the most important artistic movement of the 20th century • Modernists often present experiences in fragments, rather than as a coherent whole • Postmodern refers to 1965 - present – characterized by the phrase “continuance and completion”
Modernism and Poetry • Modernism in poetry developed with the Imagist movement, founded about 1912 • Imagists stressed the use of precise visual images and unadorned, concise language • William Butler Yeats is considered one of the greatest literary figures • His work spans several literary generations • T.S. Eliot – an American who moved to London was a Modernist poet • He uses a collage effect of “voices” which is very similar to the Cubist collages that Picasso painted after 1910