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American Modernism

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1. Laughing histerically Andrews freind could
not speak inteligibly.
2. Sarah I hear you singing yesterday said
Rick.
American Modernism
Phases of Modernism
• Early
• 1890-1920 Avant-garde (Dadaism, Surrealism, Cubism)
• High
• 1920 – 1929 Modernist Classics (Ulysses, The Waste
Land, Manhattan Transfer,The Great Gatsby, Cane),
Experimenalism, Minimalism, Black modernism
• Thirties 1930 – 1940 Socialist realism, proletarian
novel, black modernism
• Late Modernism: 1940 - 1960 modernism is canonized
• Post-Modernism 1960 - 1990s radicalization of
modernism or break with high modernism
Ezra Pound – Make it new!
Isabel,
Caroline,
Denise,
Jelena
Chantal,
Tatjana
Cornelia,
Valerie,
Annika
Lena,
Julia,
Mirjam,
Caroline
Luisa,
Katharina
Steven
Daniela,
Sofia,
Jan, Maria
Christoph,
Nadja,
Kathi,
Falko
The Armory Show 1913
• Watershed date in American art
• Introduced astonished New Yorkers to
modernism
• Teddy Roosevelt said, “That’s not art!”
“In
1913, a single exhibition changed the face of
American art forever. The International Exhibition of
Modern Art, known as the Armory Show,endeavored to
combine the newest and most striking examples of
European art with their American counterparts in a
magnificent, unparalleled show.“
http://www.artandeducation.net/paper/the-1913-armory-show-much-ado-about-everything/)
Marcel Duchamp, Nude Descending a Staircase, 1912
"Take the picture which for some reason
is called 'A Naked Man Going Down
Stairs'. There is in my bathroom a really
good Navajo rug which, on any proper
interpretation of the Cubist theory, is a
far more satisfactory and decorative
picture. ... and from the standpoint of
decorative value, of sincerity, and of
artistic merit, the Navajo rug is infinitely
ahead of the picture."
(Theodore Roosevelt )
Thomas Eakins The Swimming Hole, 1884/85
John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)
Mrs Knowles and her Children, 1902
Henri Matisse, 1869-1954
The Blue Nude (Souvenir de Biskra), 1907
oil, 36 1/4 x 55 1/8.
Marcel Duchamp, 1887-1968
Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2
(Nu descendant un escalier), 1912
oil, 58 x 35.
"Duchamp’s Nude creates an atmosphere of
release, color release, release from
stereotyped forms, trite subjects. I (William
Carlos Williams) laughed out loud when I first
saw it, happily, with relief."
(Williams 134).
Pablo Picasso, Les Demoiselles d‘Avignon, 1907
The Birth of Modernism
Ezra Pound – Make it new!
In a Station of the Metro
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
Ezra Pound, 1913
The Red Wheelbarrow
so much depends
upon
a red wheel
barrow
glazed with rain
water
beside the white
chickens.
William Carlos Williams, 1923
Ta
ta
ppin
g
toe
hip
popot
amus Back
gen
teel-ly lugu
bri ous
eyes
LOOPTHELOOP
as
fathandsbangrag
E.E.Cummings, 1923
Harlem
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
Langston Hughes, 1951
T.S. Eliot: “These fragments that I have
shored up against my ruins”
“The fragments are fragments from the literature of the
past. Eliot contrasted the wholeness of past eras in our
heritage with what he saw as the fracturing of feeling,
sensibility and belief in his own day, the 1920s, a time
of public and, for Eliot himself, personal collapse.“
(Excerpt from The Great Books by Anthony O'Hear)
What is Modernism? A Dictionary Definition:
"a general term applied retrospectively to the wide range of
experimental and avant-garde trends in the literature (and
other arts) of the early 20th century.... Modernist literature
is characterized chiefly by a rejection of 19th-cent traditions
and the conventions of realism ... (e.g. traditional meter).
Modernist writers tended to see themselves as an avantgarde disengaged from bourgeois values, and disturbed
their readers by adopting complex and difficult new forms
and styles. In fiction, the accepted continuity of chronological development was upset…. In poetry, Ezra Pound
and T. S. Eliot replaced the logical exposition of thoughts
with collages of fragmentary images and complex allusions.
Modernist writing is predominantly cosmopolitan, and often
expresses a sense of urban cultural dislocation, along with
an awareness of new anthropological and psychological
theories. Its favoured techniques of juxtaposition and
multiple point of view challenge the reader to reestablish a
coherence of meaning from fragmentary forms.”
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms, 1991
What is Modernism?
• International tendency in the arts (literature, music,
architecture, film, dance…)
• Rejection of tradition, Anti-Victorian
• Experimental, fragmented, non-representational, antirealist
• New narrative techniques: stream of consciousness,
interior monologue
• Themes: psychological, self-alienation,-realisation,
emancipation, tries to represent human subjectivity
• Goals: Make art more vivid & authentic
• Effect on the reader: challenging, unsettling, disturbing
Value Differences in the Modern
World
What events/trends/theories do you
associate with these dates?
• 1900
• 1929
• 1939
Scientific Revolution
– Albert Einstein’s Principle of Uncertainty
• In quantum mechanics: increasing the accuracy of
measurement of one observable quantity
increases the uncertainty with which another may
be known
– Quantum theory
• Explains the nature of matter and energy on the
atomic and subatomic level
Modernity & Film
•
•
•
Kinetoscope 1893-95
Thomas Edison in 1891 patent; 1893 demo of 35mm film
Andrew Holland opened 1st peep-show parlor on Broadway April 1894, with
Kinetoscopes for individual viewers; 25 cents for 16-second film viewed
individually
•
•
Vaudeville Theaters 1895-1905
Louis and Auguste Lumiere in Paris 1895
Edison purchased rights to the Vitascope 1896
•
•
•
•
Nickelodeon 1905-15
urban working-class storefront theaters showing movies for 10 cent.
Edwin S. Porter's photoplay The Great Train Robbery,1903. The 300
vaudeville theaters offered a variety of entertainment for 50 cents
by 1910, 26 mill. attended 10,000 movie theaters each week for 10 cents.
•
1915-1925 Rise of Classical Hollywood Narrative Film
Modernism =
W – worldly
 MODERNITY
M – metropolitan
D – democratic
stylistic

personal emancipation
sexual
Characteristics of Modernism in
Literature
– Meaning comes from the individual’s
perspective and is personalized;
– A single story might be told from the
perspective of several different people, with
the assumption that the “truth” is somewhere
in the middle - relativism
Inner psychological reality or “interiority” is
represented
oStream of consciousness—portraying
the character’s inner monologue
Characteristics of Modernism in
Literature
– No longer seen as transparent, allowing us to
“see through” to reality;
– But now considered the way an individual
constructs reality;
– Language is “thick” with multiple meanings
and varied connotative forces.
Characteristics of Modernism in
Literature
• Emphasis on the Experimental
– Art is artifact rather than reality;
– Organized non-sequentially
• Experience portrayed as layered, allusive,
discontinuous, using fragmentation and
juxtaposition.
– Ambiguous endings—open endings which are
seen as more representative of reality.
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