Sunday, June 11, 2006

"Modernism Is ...." --- Individual Presentations

I will use this post to collect the summaries of our individual class presentations, as an effective resource for our understanding of the wild & contradictory complexities of Modernism.

Modernism is ... the literary evolution of the traditional narrative.
1) Modernist literature does not subscribe to the traditional narratives of previous literature eras
2) Modernism brought a new way of writing
3) Stream-of-Consciousness
4) Symbolism as the linking force of ideas and narrative in the story
5) Deep philosophical themes soaked into the subtext of the story

Modernism is .... the confident assertion of uncertainty.
1. Modernist Confidence: High Modernism – ‘knowing everything about everything.’ Sense of superiority. ‘Legends in their own minds’
2. Perhaps this outward confidence is merely masking an underlying uncertainty/anxiety, for modernists seem equally concerned, if not intensely preoccupied, with the unknowable / incomprehensible.
3. Look at what modernists are replacing traditional ideas with: Modernists are NOT replacing certainty with certainty (old clarity with new-found clarity), but rather, replacing old certainties with ambiguities.
4. The use of a broken/fragmented style, to convey broken/fragmented ideas, could be seen as reflecting a state of mind that is similarly broken/fragmented.
5.Modernist writing is intensely self-conscious/self-reflexive

Modernism is....
1) past, present and future
2) in a state of constant change
3) adaptable
4) undefinable
5) individual

Modernism is .... Images of the First World War

1. If Modernism is an attempt to break from the past, images of World War 1 illustrate this through pictures of drastic changes in warfare.
-Forester, Pg. 25, 133 (changing opinions)
2. The literary fragmentation that pervades passages of Modernist literature we have read (for example, Virginia Woolf’s Jacob’s Room) is physically manifested in pictures of fragmented bodies.
-Forester, Pg. 52 (fragmented bodies, blown apart in warfare)
3. Images of “child soldiers” and dead youth are reflected in the poetry of World War 1 poets and their messages of despair, confusion and utter shell-shock through their immediate lived experiences.
-Wilfred Owen, “Anthem for Doomed Youth” (193)
4. The loss of innocence (which can be perceived as the “golden period” of Edwardianism) is evident in each image of intense suffering and sadness.
-Siegfried Sassoon, “Counter-Attack” (129)
5. If Modernists are the epitome of self-confidence (or as we discussed last class in our colloquium, perhaps false confidence), this is contrasted by the feelings of inadequacy, fear and passive femininity experienced by the soldiers of World War 1.
-Forester, Pg. 68

Modernism is .... a time for luxurious garden parties.
5 key points to hosting a garden party:
1) Flowers: roses, daisies, lilies, karakas (tree)
2) Food: sandwiches (cream cheese, lemon-curd), cream puffs, cakes, passion
fruit ices, coffee, tea
3) Clothing: hats, dresses; "her black hat trimmed with gold daisies and
long black velvet ribbons¨ (256)
4) Amenities: marquee, tables, chairs, tennis court, waiters to serve food &
drinks
5) Activities: singing with the piano, strolling around the garden, badminton, croquet, chats.

(Literary) Modernism is .... the written attempt to take the chaotic & fragmented pieces of life and society before, during, and after the war, and piece them together in order to construct the "modern".
-With all the turmoil and chaos that the First World War brought, modernist writers attemtped to bring order to the modern world through their literature.-Modernist writers attempted to capture the driving force of life and place it in text.
-Modernist writers attempted to portray a realistic account of life duringtheir time. The past was the past, the present was unstable, the future was unknown. Their writing reflects these opinions both in style and content.
-Modernist writers attempted to begin rebuilding the destroyed past into the modern present through recognition that the past had been destroyed.
-Through their new way of writing, modernist writers challenged readers to search for and accept a new definition of "modern."


Modernism is .... not a radical break from the past but rather another period in the unified timeline of history.
-Modernism is a part of history in that it has roots in movements that preceded it and it cannot be understood fully without an understanding of its precursors.
- Modernism is revolutionary in that it is an attempt to overthrow the status quo and improve the world with radical developments in the arts, such as literature and art
- Modernism, like secular humanism and the Enlightenment, prizes individual reason and thought, the ability of man to shape his world above all traditions, superstitions and institutions (ie) monarchy and church
- Modernism is radical in that it prizes imagination over reason and this is one of its improvements on the past
- Modernism is a part of an age-old human quest to create to create the most perfect world that can be found – that is why it is called a revolution as it recognizes the failures of previous periods and attempts to improve upon them.

Modernism is ... real life.
1) Life in modernity is unlike anything experienced before.
a) WWI and trench warfare.
2) Real life in the way we think.
a) a more accurate way to portray reality through stream of consciousness.
3) Living in fragmentation.
a) recovery (from shellshock) through engagement with texts.
4) the Freudian perspective is the new reality.
a) analysis to find meaning and explanation in life.
5) The end of the ideal; the new reality is materialistic, driven by results.
a) from virtue to value, a punctured and deflated Edwardian society.

Modernism is .... Radical Music
1) Modernism is the formation of numerous symbiotic relationships amongst different mediums like music and literature. Music andliterature merged together through Arnold Schoenberg and Stefan George.
2) Modernism is music by composer Arnold Schoenberg, who reevaluated harmony, melody, and form. Sought alternatives to previously engrained technique. Things like tonal ambiguity, dissonance and musical abstraction changed the shape of music. Modernist music described by many audiences as radical and inaccessible.
3) Modernism is an interrogation and diagnosis of the individual mind occurring collectively amongst the arts. Schoenberg was inspired towrite the settings of poems by Stefan George because of this. Literary modernism took shape in Germany with Stefan George July 12 1868-December 4, 1933.
4) Modernism is worldly. Schoenberg and George capture the avante-garde, abstract, self conscious style of modernism in music and literature despite geographical distance to Woolf, Joyce, Eliot, and Conrad. Illustrates an amalgamation of mediums over the concepts of modernism throughout the world.
5) Modernism is coming to grips with how great the artist thinks they are. For both the composer (Schoenberg) and poet (George) focus shifts to being less on extrinsic presentation (for the audience or reader) and more on the intrinsic understanding of interrogating their own reality.


Modernism is .... Inspiration.

1. My modernists were creating the new and what caused them to change was time. Something came and it was new and modernist authors had to find new ways of expressing themselves in their literature.

2. We have a class dedicated to modernism and we are inspired to developour own ideas and create meanings of the word. EX: our class colloquium and with that we came to different ideas andconclusions if any at all. The presentations that we had to do for class were also inspired by the huge term “modernism.” We had to go and find ourown meanings and the class developed many different ideas.

3. Modernism is a historical artifact. Modernism is an inspirational tool to keep that time period alive. A sense of never being able to return to that or that it will never be the same because time has passed. Even though time has passed does not necessarily mean that modernism has lost its credibility. It might become even more elusive through time. It gets better the more we study it. EX: Modernism was a way to express a certain emotion that can only be captured at that time. Pure modernists were modernists of that time and canonly truly be understood at that time. As we’re studying Modernism it is only a fragment in the year 2006 which is almost a false modernism but it does not deter are pursuit of the meaning.

4. A new form of expression. There were different styles that themodernist writers started to explore. The use of language is different. There is no longer the simple narrative but rather a more deeper look intothe human mind.

5. Modernist writers were more aware of themselves. They draw inspiration from themselves and more faith in the self too. - the unflinching confidence (arrogance) of the modernists- They inspire themselves because of their greatness - we need to understand the author’s lives/motivations to understand their work- without the authors there would be no text and without modernism there would be no texts that were written in this new form.

Modernism is ... the revival of the "New Woman" controversy.

Victorian novelist Eliza Lynn Linton's description of the "Girl of the Period" corresponds to
the "New Woman" in literary modernism.
1.) The physical appearance of the New Woman in Modernism is similar to the image of the New Woman in the Victorian Age (Sylvia, Parade's End).
2.) Both versions of the New Woman shamefully discard ideals of family and loyalty in marriage (Sylvia, Parade's End; Kitty, The Return of the Soldier).
3.) Nature and the pastoral life are glorified over the image of the modern woman (Kitty versus Margaret, The Return of the Soldier).
4.) In Victorian and Modernist literature, feminine pacifism is ideal (Lady Emily, The General).
5.) Superficial beauty is disapproved of (Kitty, The Return of the Soldier). The revival of the female anti-hero contradicts the claim that Modernism supports the rejection of the past because the "New Woman" was a movement derived from the Victorian era.
Further reading of Linton's "The Girl of the Period" can be found at
http://www.wwnorton.com/nto/victorian/topic_2/linton.htm

Modernism is .... Horses

1.] The role of the horse in warfare changed drastically in World War One.

2.] The horse is a metaphorical animal, representing the change from Edwardianism to modernism.

3.] In Parade's End, the horse is described as having both feminine and masculine features, representing an ambiguous time.

4.] The bit and the horse's mouth if of great significance, symbolizing the power men have upon women.

5.] The horse represents a capitalist culture, in which profits can be madeor lost due to the quality, pedigree, and health of the horse.

Modernism is…an attack on the manner in which God is viewed and interpreted.
(My points come to you not in the traditional five-point format, but rather, as a collection of useful information.)
- Biblical Modernism (a modernist movement originating from within the church) results in the suspicion of unchallenged doctrines and ideologies while placing more emphasis on the individual, internal narrative.
- The goal of modernism is not necessarily to destroy religion, but to view Jesus and the Bible in new ways which allow the application of personal judgment. Biblical Modernism “is not a continuation of the traditional theology of Christianity, but rather a rediscovery of the historical Jesus, and an attempt to organize Christian devotion in relation to him rather than
in relation to the standardized doctrines about him.” (E. Vanderlaan, "Modernism and Historic Christianity," The Journal of Religion, 1925)
- Modernism is a threat to orthodox Christianity because it threatens the rigid doctrines and authoritative structures that are inherent in the religion. During the rise of Biblical Modernism, the church took numerous steps in an attempt at eradicating the threat.
- In Literary Modernism, the individualistic human identity is constructed through internal narratives which deal with perceptions and interpretations of events rather than concrete descriptions of them.
- Although biblical allusions appear throughout many modernist texts, these allusions often lack specific religious context. In other words, many allusions merely serve to reference facets of the bible which are portrayed as useless and obsolete by the modernist authors.
- There is a paradox inherent in the modernist stance on religion. Modernism may be viewed as a “religion” itself, in that it creates its own dogmas about humanity. The paradox is that in order for a one to come to an individual perception about God, they must first appeal to the ideologies
and doctrines established by modernism.

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