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Definitions: Modern, Modernity, Modernism The following dictionary definition is from the Oxford English Dictionary Online: Modern (adj)
[ad. late L. modern-us (6th c.), f. modo just now (on the analogy of hodiernus that is of to-day, f. hodi to-day). Cf. F. moderne, Sp., Pg., It. moderno, G.modern.] 1. Being at this time; now existing. Obs. rare. 2. a. Of or pertaining to the present and recent times, as distinguished from the remote past; pertaining to or originating in the current age or period. spec. (the) modern Babylon: London; modern Greats: at Oxford University, the school of Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. In
Historical use commonly applied (in contradistinction to ancient and mediæval) to the time subsequent to the MIDDLE AGES, and the events, personages, writers, etc. of that time. So modern history: see HISTORY 3b.
b. Geol. and Zool. Belonging to a comparatively recent period in the lifehistory of the world. c. Prefixed to the name of a language to form a designation for that form of the language that is now in use, in contrast to any earlier form. In recent philology used technically to denote the last of the three periods into which it is customary to divide the history of living languages; distinguished from Old and Middle. modernEnglish: see ENGLISH n. 1b. d. Of a movement in art and architecture, or the works produced by such a movement: characterized by a departure from or a repudiation of accepted or traditional styles and values. Cf. ABSTRACT A. 4d.
modern jazz. albeit it was not in modern characters. 10 Because this distinction between the eclectic and the personal. Archit.no interpreter.. freq. v. i. there should be no rivalry. 201 There is. has not yet been carried out with sufficient strictness. M. SMYTH Disc. a free expressive style of dancing distinct from classical ballet (see quots.) p. pl. DISH n. 1938 O. Without composing them of diuers sorts of weapons. 10]. Art (rev. In spec.v... new-fashioned. LANCASTER Pillar to Post 74 When.was first brought to public notice it led to a natural and healthy reaction against the excessive ornament. 1701 DE FOE True-born Eng. JONSON Volpone III. 3/2 Against such foes. From these points of departure you can trace the whole glorious history of modern art. ed. which.been found so difficult to discover the distinctive style of modern art. He is indeed the Pattern of modern Foppery. modern dance. 1973 Times 19 June 14/4 A Child of Six Could Do It. iv. device. BELL Landmarks 19thCent.. not antiquated or obsolete. phrases: modern convenience. Painting 5 Géricault and then Delacroix were the new influences in France. 53/1 Perhaps Gray is at his modernest in the µOde on Vicissitude¶. I have accepted here the broadest traditional usage of the term µmodern art¶ as covering the course of creative invention since 1800... Warres Gloss. Modern to the last degree Borrows or makes her own Nobility. dancing vbl. 1958 S.. 3. and facile a veine. 251 Moderne warre. 1598 BARRET Theor. 1590 SIR J. MUTHER Hist. 1872 HOWELLS Wedd. such as is usual in a modern house. (1892) 79 They conjectured. etc. He thinks himself the Pattern of modern Gallantry. 26 Jan. 130 A writing on the wall. 1929 H. 1898 Westm. xvii. 1605 B. Fitting the time. needed. according to the moderne vse. 1972 P.] 1895 R. Journ. Weapons 8b. W.little to compare with the unconsciously µmodern¶ work of those architects who continued the English tradition. Mod.of the previous generation.if not most modern of all in that final quatrain of the Elegy which Gray's feeling for unity expunged. n. CHENEY Story Mod.. hence modern dancer. 69/3 Between this society and one begun some years ago for the encouragement of modern Art and native artists. 1885 Academy 24 Jan.. BARDI Archit. 1676 G. a. with a moderner tint from Morris. and catching the court-eare. 1859 [see dishlift s. cf.it has hitherto. CON. Bell. MOD. is the new order of warre vsed in our age. an amenity.. xix. 1927 C. jazz of a type which originated during and after the war of 1939-45. shortly after the War.... PAYN Talk of Town I. Painting I. 117/1 The flight of refugees from theNazis. 1885 J.[1849 Art Jrnl. in England the innovator was Constable.flavours of Tennyson and Browning in his verse.scattered the pioneers of the Modern movement across western Europe and America. the derived and the independent. He has so moderne. ETHEREGE Man of Mode I. R. fitting. men with the modernest artillery and highest explosives are utterly . 24 But England. [an exhibition of] cartoons about modern art at the Tate.). HITCHCOCK Mod. the Modern Movement. XI. Dor. Characteristic of the present and recent times. Gaz..
Modernism: The word modernism however is used to describe certain trends in art. Ballet 188 Modern dance. 1937 E. criticism and philosophy that have had a powerful influence on the development and experience of the 20th century. Love. 1961 Metronome Apr. WINEARLS Mod. 189Modern Dance claims to make much use of µnatural movements¶ and it is also a reflexion of a state of mind. 1912 E. developed.powerless.. and it emerged in the medieval period as a term in the so called battle of the books. It comes from the Latin modo. 2) 9 The title µModern Dance¶ distinguishes those kinds which have been invented. ST. ones... GILLESPIE in Shapiro & Hentoff Hear Me Talkin' to Ya xix.. Conventionally we can date these trends from the last decade of the 19th century (1890) to about the beginning of the 2nd world war in 1939. writing. 1955 D. Dance 2 There are as many methods and systems of modern dancing as there are dancers. p.).. Dance(ed. the Classical ballet). Ibid. Associated with modernization. as well as the development of nation states. as the more advanced developments were termed. Modern dancing begins where. B. in which traditional values in art and thought were opposed to more contemporary. MILLAY Conversation at Midnight I. Modern dances. 15 Peace and Quiet poured down the sink. 1933 J. Musical Comedy or Ballet. In exchange for a houseful of µmodern conveniences¶. Mimicry. are not only the values of humanism and enlightenment. 1957 G. Folk. or adapted from various sources during the past half-century and which are clearly marked by an expressive style quite different from that of other forms such as National. L.[are] derived from some primary human instinct. Ibid. 12 By the 1950's µmodern¶ jazz. 1968 J. of course. such as Worship. had to free itself both from esoteric tendencies within jazz itself and from over-dependence on Western European classical traditions.e. The word modernization comes to describe the swift rise in Europe and America of powerful tendencies manifesting advances in technology and science.imply by a method of negation those types of dancing which are neither classic nor romantic. Modern Dancers consider that Ballet cannot deal satisfactorily with all possible dance-subjects. Ibid. experimentation and certain kinds of distancing from the past. or to the spectator.. 300 No one man or group of men started modern jazz. MARTIN Mod. 3By the modern dance we.the art survives solely on account of the pleasure it gives to the performer. The word modern is not very new. So we can provisionally accept that the texts we are . xv. & Mod.. URLIN Dancing Anc.Superior accommodation in lady's quiet house. or War. WILSON Dict. the term used to designate a variety of styles which are not founded on the danse d'école (i. or modern.all modern conveniences. but also those of colonialism and European Imperialism as the modernization of the west spreads around the world. 1926 Times 6 May 1/6 (Advt. implying now in opposition to the past of a tradition. L. So since this time modern has generally described a state of affairs characterized by innovation. democratic political systems and the expansion of capitalist modes of production. V.
However. Cities become meeting points for migrating groups and Vienna in Austria and Paris in France play particularly important roles for modernist aesthetics. Chile. Malaya. Sigmund Freud and Ferdinand de Saussure and Albert Einstein And we cannot discount the importance of certain 19th century literary and artistic trends as well. In the background are great critical figures of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Eliot and Pablo Picasso lose their right to the titlemodernist as they gain universal institutional respect and wealth? Alternative Beginnings/Significant Dates (With links to sites that provide either the text in question or information that is relevant). . Does modernism lose its edge with maturity? Do T.. by the end of the period (i. Now the canon is considerably broader and. those of impressionism. Eliot and Wyndham Lewis. Modernism describes a resolutely international or transnational set of phenomena involving continental as well as Anglo-American writers and artists.S. the formation into small self-supporting movements and groups (e. rejuvenation and experimentation. The principles were those of innovation. T. Friedrich Nietzsche. Modernism is not. Modernist writers and artists take great risks with technique in order to define their art against an increasingly market driven consumer society. of course.g.S. Questions about modernist aesthetics turn up in urban centers all over the world at different times « Argentina. Thus. Actually. Africa. India. and it denoted a very narrow circle of writers. postimpressionism and symbolism. Soon after the war modernism.interested in were written within a 50-year period. while it pays to be specific about which trend in modernism we are referring to in any given context. described a kind of writing beginning in about 1910 and culminating in the midtwenties. the larger and more wideranging it becomes. often called the ³men of 1914. Karl Marx. the further we get from the period in question. surrealism and Dada) can be seen as ways of standing out against uncomprehending public opinion. China andJapan.´ including among them Ezra Pound. the late 1930s) the major writers and artists had achieved considerable respect and command of a lucrative market. it was generally agreed. a period in itself (other kinds of art and writing occurred during this time) but it does describe a wide range of textual phenomena that exerted a profound influence on the way we all think and experience our world today. Charles Darwin. we have learned to be considerably more flexible and sophisticated about what modernism means generally.e.
groups. that this model of the spread of modernity is a model that belongs to modernity itself. So. We must always remember. But the main strand of modernity²an attitude that is consistent across all the different variants over the last 500 years or so² constitutes. we are dealing with at least 500 years of social. More specific issues. have already been directed for us²decided in advance and to an extent naturalized so these things are seen to be beyond question²by modernity. sanity & madness. The major problem²I¶ll call it the historicity of modernity (half the class switches off at horrible phrase made up entirely of meaningless abstractions) as a short cut²implies the following: we recognize now that the way we think is largely determined by historically rooted factors²systems of thinking that we remain unaware of most of the time. myths. Nonetheless. cultural and political development. law & crime. people. the Americas. facts. individuals. with colonialism and then globalization. right & wrong. Africa. also rest upon assumptions that are so deeply embedded that we barely notice that they are assumptions. a number of momentous shifts in attitude. if we know that modernity begins in the 16th century Europe and gradually spreads around the world then that is because modernity has put it this way in the form of modern history. historical processes and dramatic technological changes can be observed to have occurred during the period.Modernity: It would be impossible to define modernity precisely and the term remains a highly contested one. class and morality. when. Modernity is the name we use for the system of thinking we inherit after 500 years of modern development. In fact one of the greatest problems when trying to engage with the question of modernity is that our means of understanding²our assumptions about time. histories. truths. when dealing with the problem of modernity. however. space. We must even use the word development cautiously because we might be led to easily into thinking that this process is the same as progress. superstitions and lies²are always to a certain extent determined by the forces we¶re trying to understand: modernity. spreading only later to the Eastern Europe. etc. historical. reason & the irrational. again in various different ways. the repeated attempt to break free from the constraints and determinations of established systems of . That is. India. roughly. men & women. as we shall see there are strong arguments for qualifying modernity¶s notion of progress. Attitudes concerning consciousness & the unconscious. democracy. It has also been observed that the early stages of these developments were more or less narrowly focused on developments in Western Europe. between 1500 and 2002. Southeast Asia and Asia. like nationality. race.
So all traditional knowledge (Greek and Medieval philosophy and religious thought) obviously fails this test as no established knowledge beyond doubt actually yet exists. seeing. language can deceive me into saying and even thinking things that might possibly be untrue. for our understanding of modernism. a French philosopher whose contribution to modern thought both scientific and philosophical has been undoubtedly immense. as it were. Secondly. a general distrust of the senses (hearing. And when I dream I experience perceptions that I could not possibly really perceive. which are central for the development of modernity and. There is much of great interest in Descartes¶ text but we must leave him now and move on. He wanted a point of origin. our knowledge and our language. we at least have the potential for good sound knowledge. as long as we can doubt the evidence of our senses. je suis. First. therefore I am]. my memory is frail and vulnerable to deception by the often damaging effects of my creative imagination. from eye glasses and hearing aids in the 18th century. The most authoritative sources (Aristotle. our imagination. If I was to believe my senses then I would have to accept that the moon was no bigger than a 50 cent coin.´ Descartes wanted to start from scratch. feeling. so what do we take with us? He has established that. Aquinas. to prosthetic limbs . In order to achieve this he developed a philosophical method. tasting and smelling) provokes an emphasis on thoughts and judgments and an over reliance on principles of reason. I exist) in so far as I am thinking [literally: I think. The most powerful of these attempts would arguably be that of Rene Descartes. j¶existe (I am. according to which if you can disqualify every ground of knowledge that is susceptible to doubt then what you have left will be a point of absolute certainty.thinking. Thirdly. my senses can deceive me. a secure starting point for knowledge. thus.) disagree with each other. Modernity is constituted historically as a series of repeated attempts to escape history. Secondly the same distrust provokes the development of technological means of improvement²prosthetic appliances of all kinds. etc. Fourth. so this must be ruled out as well. our memory. Two things follow from this. So what is left? Descartes comes up with the following statement: cogito ergo sum²Quit with the Latin will you?²OK. 1637 (Cogito ergo sum) Rene Descartes is as good an example as any of someone who might be said to embody the rather vague notion of a ³spirit of modernity.
of course. precursors.and a fully fledged virtual reality by the beginning of the 21st century. Furthermore. so one could justifiably identify him as an heir of an already modern way of thinking.Modernism (recommended and available in the bookshop). puts it like this: . in which he took mathematics.´ Newton¶s description subsumes the world under a single set of laws according to mathematical principles. and turned it to a dynamic account of the universe. Peter Childs. in his handy Routledge primer. because of Descartes¶ wonderful facility with rhetoric²he was easily the equal of his contemporaries like John Donne and John Milton as far as forceful literary expression is concerned and his Méditations Métaphysiques (Meditations on First Philosophy) is often justifiably set on literature courses²his text provides a powerful supporting argument for the belief that modernity starts from scratch in 1641. Isaac Newton was born the year after the publication of Descartes¶ Meditations. 1687 Newton¶s Principia. texts and attitudes it seems to designate. What this means is that a number of arguments and interventions made against certain aspects of modernity can be said to constitute an attitude we call modernism. The Principia (or Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy) was published in parts during the 20 years from 1667-87 and presents what Jacob Bronowski describes as ³a system of the world. There are two good pages: 1 Newton¶s theory of motion and 2. But part of modernity¶s power (and its power over us moderns) involves this powerful myth. in its static Euclidean form. events. Modernism: one of the ways of dealing with not only the vagueness of the term modernism but with the wide variety of currents. The Principia for the complete text) Shortly after Descartes had died (in 1650) one of the most influential developments of modernity got under way in the form of what is now called Newtonian Science. It doesn¶t. In all kinds of ways we can locate precedents. is to locate what is arguably a consistently maintained attitude towards modernity. preliminaries and seeds sown for thousands of years prior to the European 17th century and from all over the globe. Modern Science was revolutionized by Newton¶s method.
on this course. morality and science) and taking this wisdom to its logical conclusion. during which Dostoevsky had become horrified and fascinated by the state of Western Civilization. provides us with a glimpse of the absurd and paradoxical grounds of modern life and thought. perhaps reducing humans to rational(izing) animals who are increasingly perceived as more complex and consequently more emotionally. because rationalism and science have promised to discover a law for everything. Utopian versions of modern civilization. The principle can be summed up in the single phrase. Gottfried Leibniz. religious or otherwise. Humanity arguably appears without purpose and is instead merely striving for change and transformation. A number of similarly powerful responses to modernity²from within its very system yet putting that system under great strain²can be identified in a . asserted by the rationalist philosopher. is as old as human thought itself. while the dominance of reason and science has led to material benefit. The narrator of Notes From Underground (³the underground man´) is not a modernist particularly (nor is Dostoevsky. Romantic Aesthetics. But Dostoevsky¶s little book gives us an excellent paradoxical narrative of the shape this opposition takes in the advanced stages of modernity. References and allusions in Notes from Underground are very wide ranging but some of the more obvious ones deal with the following issues: Newtonian Science translated into the world of social relations. uses of logic intended to cut down the vagaries of the human ³freedom of decision. for individual responsibility. Utilitarian moral philosophy. modernity has not fostered individual autonomy or profitable self-knowledge. It has not provided meaning to the world or to spiritual life. is rendered absurd and pointless. really) but his position. which produces only momentary satisfaction or meaning.´ In other words the underground man has come to see that in the world he lives in his capacity for choice. psychologically and technologically dependent.´ of course. with an argument of this kind is with Fyodor Dostoevsky¶s Notes From Underground. ³Nothing is without reason´ (known ever after as the law of sufficient reason). (17) Our first encounter. Written in 1864 (two years before the gigantic Crime and Punishment) after two visits to Western Europe. The opposition between ³law´ and ³freedom. aesthetics.The counter argument runs. in (albeit resentfully) accepting the current wisdom of his age (philosophy.
The notion of alienation provides an account of the symptoms that many modernist writers attempt to account for. in some cases sudden. The system of ³exchange value´ and the fetish of the commodity levels all previously held distinctions among social relations. plug through my own article on it. which as colonial urban nodes were developing at a comparable rate at the same time. if you feel like it. threatening to submerge all individuals into a common . It was written at a time when instead of urban dwellers constituting a tiny fraction of the world¶s population (as they had done before).´ makes an excellent reference point for this course. which pits it cruelly against Descartes¶ Meditations: Out the Window. strictly speaking. precede or predate the conventional notions of modernism 1840 (³Man of the Crowd´) Edgar Allan Poe¶s extraordinary short story. with Paris and then Chicago and New York catching up. they were well on the way to becoming the majority. purpose. their senses of being. provides a reflection of ourselves that we don¶t probably really want to see. Written at a crucial time²a time dominated by the very swift. 1848 (Communist Manifesto) Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels collaborated on (among many other important texts in political philosophy) the ³Manifesto of the Communist Party.number of movements. in his paradoxical mocking of modern life. a status we have all easily achieved by now (most of the world¶s population are urban dwellers). It is one of the first documents to evoke. Marx¶s most influential argument concerns the way individuals²modern urban individuals living in conditions of economic capitalism²had become alienated from their own interests. with any clarity. Poe was a favorite of Dostoevsky and. value and self. explosion of urbanism around the globe (so global urbanism)²³The Man of the Crowd´ like the underground man. events and texts that.´ A relatively lyrical piece that has Shakespeare¶s Hamlet as one of its evident influences. you can see why. ³The Man of the Crowd. the increasingly perverse emptiness of modern urban existence. The Manifesto of 1848 provides us with one of the earliest and clearest statements of the modernist need for a break with the systems and authorities of the past. so it would be wrong to leave out Delhi and Singapore. You can download the story from the link and you can. Britain was at the forefront of this expansion.
then.morass. Bohemians. poets and novelists of the 19th century The Politicisation of the Aesthetic Communism and Fascism Psychoanalysis: The Void and the Destructive Principle . Modernist art and writing. could be seen as an attempt to escape the flattening out of difference represented by the trends of mass culture²striving instead for something unique that would stress but also redeem the alienation effect of modern existence. art and culture: Bourgeois/anti-bourgeois. 1857 (Madame Bovary) 1900 (Interpretation of Dreams) 1912 (Sinking of the Titanic) Crises Labour Movements Emergence of Feminism The break-up of Empires The First World War The Bolshevik Revolution Topics: History: Duration The Moment of Modernism Tradition Inheritance and ³Post-Modernism´ Time: The unreliability of Dates. progress) ³Lived Time´ and its expression Notions of Change Technology and Time The complex relations between politics. Historical time-consciousness (apocalypse v.
Eliot) Rhetoric and Language ³Originality´ and Interrogation Creation of other ³Systems´ The Style and Form of the Modern Style over Content Problematising the difference between perception and representation. Naturalism.S. you and I When the evening is spread out against the sky Like a patient etherized upon a table.Issues of Identity and the Other: Gender: Construction of Feminization/feminine language Identity: Man is (as) the Problem? Vision and the Primitive Modes of Critique: Stylistic Innovation Dialectical Thinking Influence of Psychoanalysis Skepticism/cynicism Representation ³Let us go then.´ (T. Symbolism Prose. Poetry (and Drama) Modern art The Visual and the Verbal Point of View: Authorship and Writing Narrating Events Cultural Contexts Visual art Music Mass Media Popular Culture Technology Urbanism: Modernity and the City .
Labour and Social Production War Modernism as Critique Modernism as critique involves stretching the concepts of modernity to the extent that they can no longer hold. As European civilization rolls forward blind to its inherent contradictions and thus to the inevitable catastrophe that faces it. TECHNOLOGICAL PROGRESS AND INDUSTRIALISATION. 2. 5. at the very least. modernism is itself a very real problem. a kind of bad faith with no more than disruptive and ultimately destructive motives. revealed both in philosophy and in history. What complicates matters is the fact that modernism cannot really be separated from modernity generally. Modernist discourse is actually one of the trends that characterize modernity. a series of rhetorical gestures that produce the fiction of crisis. modernism pulls back the rhetorical reins in a series of more or less violent endeavors to halt the process. revealing. So whether or not there are the problems with modernity that modernism variously claims there are. On one hand modernism can be seen as a kind of revelation of crisis. each lead in an apparently inevitable way to contradictions. SCIENTIFIC NOTIONS OF TRUTH. 1. The various movements and trends that together make up what we receive from the textbooks as the philosophical Enlightenment of the 18th Century. Modernist literature becomes a kind of critique of tradition and traditional philosophy . RELIGION. 3. There is no doubt that history reveals serious problems with European civilization. modernism can be taken as a form of crisis production. the otherwise hidden rhetorical underpinnings of European civilization. 4. On the other hand. ENLIGHTENMENT CAPITALIST ECONOMICS.
S. Freedom. fastened between animal and superman ± a rope over an abyss. constructed nature of reality (in the traditional sense).´ Catchwords: Empiricism. Art is supposed to imitate life. Progress. therefore I am. narrative.Representation Modernist forms of representation bear witness to an acknowledgement of the structured. Spawn of Fantasies Silting the appraisable Pig Cupid his rosy snout Rooting erotic garbage ³Once upon a time´ Pulls a weed white star-topped Among wild oats sown in mucous-membrane Mina Loy ³Love Songs´ ³April is the cruelest month´ (T. Technology. artistic movements containing some quite diverse trends appearing in the 19th century and spreading throughout the 20th century. The Moral Law. Rationality. Friedrich Nietzsche: ³Man is a rope. The attempt both to transgress traditional structures and to reconfigure reality in new forms is typical of most modernist projects. Eliot) Modernity Rene Descartes: ³I think. Modernism Art is supposed to invent new forms of life. Aesthetic.´ (Thus Spoke Zarathustra) .
pursues dynamism as opposed to fixity and. Marinetti and ³The Destruction of Syntax´ (1913). liberates the word from syntax and grammar. He had published a literary magazine between 1892 and 1894.Example: Futurism repudiates the past. He founded the international magazinePoesia (Poetry) in 1905 and published it in Milan from 1905 until 1909. and in 1898 he published his first work in what he called the new ³free verse´ style. who had an affair with Marinetti and other futurists later used futurist principles against the less considered aspects of futurism itself. in its extreme forms. Mina Loy. By 1900 he had decided to devote himself entirely to Italian and French literature and poetry. venerates the mechanical.Enrico Marinetti. Return to the Course Web Page . Marinetti wanted to liberate poetry and literature from the constraints of traditional punctuation and syntax and he used Poesia to launch the idea of free verse. affirms the necessity of war and welcomes its coming. Filippo Tommaso Marinetti was born in Egypt in 1876 the second son of a rich and successful lawyer. while still at college.
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