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Modernism 1910-1940+. Modernism “….the greatest single fact about our modern American writing is our writer’s absorption in every last detail of their.

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Presentation on theme: "Modernism 1910-1940+. Modernism “….the greatest single fact about our modern American writing is our writer’s absorption in every last detail of their."— Presentation transcript:

1 Modernism

2 Modernism “….the greatest single fact about our modern American writing is our writer’s absorption in every last detail of their American world together with their deep, subtle alienation from it…” Kazin

3 Modernism Social Context: Middle class prospered with increased college enrollment. Automobile became the ultimate status symbol Radio allowed the individual to connect to the world Breakdown of traditional values due to Marxism: and Freudian Psychology: which held that Americans were reflecting more on the nature of desire, the psyche and fears. Urbanization, immigration, and industrialization altered national demographics from a rural, expansive settlement to one of urban focus.

4 Modernism Historical Context: Takes place loosely between the years 1910 – 1945 The “Coming of Age” of American occurred between the two world wars. Soldiers coming back from the war yearned for modern, urban life over a rural one Youth was disillusioned and blamed the war on the older generation. While farm machines drastically reduced the demand of farm jobs, many farmers were still quite poor. Since Modernism was seen as an international movement, many American social, religious, and literary traditions were questioned.

5 Modernism The Roaring 20”s…….The Jazz Age A time defined by excess, materialism, and extravagance. Americans fell in love with modern entertainments…movies, speakeasies, jazz music… Prohibition: led to underground “speakeasies” Freudian Psychology reflected that Americans were more desire oriented. Flappers accentuated the liberated, urban, modern young woman voting rights finally achieved in The Lost Generation: Characterized by a loss of stable, traditional structure of values. The individual lost a sense of individuality…self is one of alienation Expatriotes:

6 Modernism Great Depression (Dust Bowl): Sparked by the Stock Market Crash of 1929 which caused American unrest and global economic upheaval. One third of all Americans out of work and wandering the countryside looking for work Soup Kitchens, shantytowns and hobos rampant across the states Franklin Roosevelt’s liberal reforms aimed to soften depression and potential violence Questions regarding capitalism and individualism led to growing sympathies with communism. Increased industrialization and the stricken lives of the working class led to an interest in Marxism (advanced notion that liberty and justice should exist for all).

7 Modernism Literary Characteristics: Stylistic Subject and techniques become inseparable in both the visual and literary events of the period. Vision and viewpoint become an essential part of the Modern novel. The way the story is told is as important as the story itself. Innovative choice of narrator(s), point of view, and narration styles. Literature is marked by a break with the sequential, developmental, cause/effect, of the “realist” fiction and rather presents a layered experience that is allusive and discontinuous and fragmented. Language use is complex, has multiple meanings and varied connotations. An example would be character’s names, titles being symbolic of themselves. Style is a representation of inner (psychological) reality which includes flow of experience. Time becomes psychological time or symbolic time…not historical time. Time can be used as a structuring device with movement backwards ( flashbacks) and forwards, or juxtaposing events of different times. Endings are typically ambiguous or “open ended”

8 Modernism Literary Characteristics: Character Plots and concerns include the following: dramatization of the plight of women literature of the urban experience continuation of the pastoral (natural) experience continuation of regionalism and local color international perspective on cultural matters Blues tradition which represents images and themes of liberation and revolt Modern Attitudes (often contradictory in nature) Democratic and elitist Traditional and Anti-tradition National pride versus the celebration of international culture Puritanical and repressive elements versus freer expression in sexual and political matters

9 Modernism Themes: Collectivism versus the authority of the individual The Jazz Age with its excess and materialism Women’s liberation and new found role in America Disillusionment of the American Dream Question of the reality of experience itself the search for a meaning in a world without God critique of traditional values of the culture loss of meaning and hope in the modern world ….and how this loss may be faced. Terms: Epiphany: Perspectivism: Stream of Consciousness:


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