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The Moderns 1914-1939
Transcript of The Moderns 1914-1939
A Few Important Dates
One of the most important artificial waterways in the world, it is a 51-mile-long canal that connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans at the narrowest part of the Central American Isthmus, and shortens the voyage between the east and west coasts of the US.
* 1920 Prohibition
The 18th amendment resulted in the rise of criminal alcohol production and sale and restrictions on individual freedoms.
* 1927 Charles Lindbergh
Lindbergh's flight from New York to Paris on May 20-21, 1927, took 33.5 hours. In 1932 his two-year-old son was kidnapped for ransom and later found dead. The kidnapping bacame one of the most notorious crimes of the 1930s.
* 1933 Eleanor Roosevelt
In 1921 Franklin D. Roosevelt contracted polio. During his four terms as President, Eleanor took on responsibilities unprecedented for a President's wife. She spoke on the rights of minorities and the poor. In 1941, she briefly held public office, serving as co-director of the Office of Civilian Defense.
Political & Social Milestones
The Great War
WWI was fought between the Central Powers and the Allies.
It became the first global war.
In 1916, more than half a million soldiers were killed in a 10 month long battle near France.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony formed the National Women Suffrage Association in 1869.
Between 1890 and 1918, American women won the right to vote in many state and local elections.
The Great Depression
Began in the US but quickly spread around the world.
The American and European economies were closely connected after WWI.
The Depression ended the flow of American investment credits to Europe.
The Depression ended only with the onset of WWII.
What is Modernism?
Don't confuse the Modernist movement with the standard dictionary definition of
. Modernism in Literature is NOT a chronological designation; rather it consists of literary works possessing certain loosely defined characteristics.
Modernism, as a literary style, emerged after WWI, beginning in Europe and then progressing into American literature by the late 1920s. After the First World War many people questioned the chaos and the insanity of it all. The world’s “universal truths” and trust in authority figures began to crumble, and Modernism was a response to the destruction of these beliefs.
Fragmentation – in plot, characters, theme, images, and overall storyline. Thus, for instance, many modernist works are not in the typical linear sequence.
Loss is a huge theme in modernist works.
The “truth” is questionable, as a common theme, and thus, you cannot always trust the narrator to tell the truth, whereas in traditional literature it is the narrator’s job to make the reader understand what’s going on. Also, there may be more than one narrator, showing the diversity of truth.
The traditional family is destroyed or is destructive.
Authority figures are often untrustworthy, reflecting the question of truth.
Traditional or typical gender and racial roles change.
T. S. Eliot
Modern American Fiction
What did Modernism stand for as a movement?
* Emphasis on bold experimentation in style and form, reflecting the fragmentation of society.
*Rejection of traditional themes.
* A loss of faith in the American dream.
* Rejection of the ideal hero. He was now flawed and disillusioned.
* Interest in the inner workings of the human mind.
* Revolt against the spiritual debasement of the modern world.
Eliot has been one of the most daring innovators of twentieth-century poetry. Never compromising either with the public or indeed with language itself, he has followed his belief that poetry should aim at a representation of the complexities of modern civilization in language and that such representation necessarily leads to difficult poetry.
He believed that poetry has a social function. He wrote, "I think it is important that every people should have its own poetry... but because it actually makes a difference to the society as a whole, and that means to people who do not enjoy poetry... unless people go on producing great authors, and especially great poets, their language will deteriorate and perhaps become absorbed in a stronger one.
His works include, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,"The Waste Land," "Four Quartets," and "Ash Wednesday."
T. S. Eliot
Ezra Pound is generally considered the poet most responsible for defining and promoting a modernist aesthetic in poetry.
Ezra Pound was born in Hailey, Idaho, in 1885. He completed two years of college at the University of Pennsylvania and earned a degree from Hamilton College in 1905.
In 1924, he moved to Italy; during this period of voluntary exile, Pound became involved in Fascist politics, and did not return to the United States until 1945, when he was arrested on charges of treason for broadcasting Fascist propaganda by radio to the United States during the Second World War.
His works include:
"The River-Merchant's Wife: A Letter,"
"A Few Dont's by an Imagiste."
William Carlos Williams
Williams experimented with new techniques of meter and lineation. He sought to invent an entirely fresh—and singularly American—poetic, whose subject matter was centered on the everyday circumstances of life and the lives of common people.
Ezra Pound became a great influence on William Carlos Williams
E. E. Cummings
experimented radically with form, punctuation, spelling and syntax, abandoning traditional techniques and structures to create a new, highly idiosyncratic means of poetic expression.
championed the virtues of elitism
Modern American Fiction
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Katherine Anne Porter
The Harlem Renaissance
In general, though, many modern writers were interested in the ways in which identity was constructed, and in the place of the self in modern society.
According to Freud, the past lingered always over the current self, and one had little agency when it came to changing that self. The fact that a science, psychology, was developing at the turn of the century to study the self demonstrates the immense importance that the concept had gained in Western culture (Soliah, Stokes, Thomas).
* 1914 The Panama Canal Opens
World War I was the most mechanically mobilized war to date. Yes, cavalry was involved, but so were planes, tanks, and other vehicles. Yet, this was a war fought in the trenches.