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Kerry Janel S.

Paguia BSE31 MODERNISM- AN INTRODUCTION Modernism (1909/1914-1945/1950) Although many scholars argue that the eighteenth century is the beginning of what we would call the Modern Era, Modernism as a literary movement begins in the early twentieth century and ends shortly after World War II. (Some visual arts scholars argue that Modern Art actually begins in the late nineteenth century, and it is important to realize that Movements like Impressionism in the Visual Arts started in the nineteenth century when most American literature was still immersed in Realism. It is also important to recognize that not all literature written in this period exhibit the characteristics of Modernism.) Modern writers were known for their interest in experimentation with subject matter, form, and style. Such experimentation is particularly true for the poetry and drama during this period, and to some extent the same can be said of fiction. However, some of the American fiction of the period is decidedly realistic and like some of the drama focused on showing up the necessity for facing the harsh reality of life. Modernism can be defined as an international literary/art movement lasting from the turn of the century to around 1950. The movement involves a rejection of tradition and a hostile attitude toward the immediate past. The Modern Period: The Imagist Movement (1909-1917 One Movement in Modern Poetry) Although technically before the advent of the Modern period, Imagism (a movement in poetry) was Modernistic in that it rebelled against the maudlin poetry of much nineteenth century poetry. Characteristics of Imagist Poetry rebels against the overly emotional hard, clear expression (maudlin) Romantic poetry of the concrete sensory images 19th century (this rebelling against language of everyday speech tradition is part of what makes rarely rhymes Imagism a Modernist movement) Influences on Imagist Poets Emily Dickinsons short, compressed poems of short lines and concrete images everyday language and free verse of Whitman and Realism late 19th/ Early 20th century French symbolist poets whose used images as symbols Japanese poetry (haiku, tanka: short imagistic poems) ancient Chinese, Greek, and Roman poetry possibly Impressionism (a movement in panting that began in the late 19th century and was a reaction against Realism in its focus on the conveyance of an overall impression of a particular scene, usually outdoors, using primary colors and short brushstrokes to represent the appearance of reflected light. The desired result of impressionism was to capture the artist's perception of the subject rather than the subject itself. Artists of this movement desired to portray images as though someone might see something if they just caught a glimpse of it. Impressionist paintings contain very bright, bold colors, and tend to have very little detail. This movement in the visual arts soon influenced writing: Writers and poets also embraced Impressionism, and began to use imagism and symbolism to convey their impressions, rather than the objective characteristics of certain events and objects.

The impressionist style of fiction writing often centers around the mental life of the characters, by observing his impressions or sensations instead of interpreting experience. Impressionistic poetry often implies a response to an event or subject rather than describing the actual feelings evoked Influences of Imagists on Modern and Contemporary Poetry Some of the Imagist poets continue writing Imagist poetry throughout the first half of the 20th Other Imagist poets continue using Imagist techniques but branch off into other Modernistic strategies. Almost all poetry of the 20th and 21st century continues to use concrete images as the cornerstone of Modern/Contemporary poetry.

Characteristics of Modern Poetry Focus on concrete, sensory images (influence of Imagism, Dickinson) Use of everyday language (Imagism, Realism, Whitman) even when poetry uses traditional rhyming verse forms. With few exceptions, tends to be free verse rather than traditional verse forms that rhyme and have regular meter. Most tend to reject traditional values (conservative societal and religious views) and conventions (ways poetry has traditionally been written: free verse and experimentation with language, punctuation, visual arrangement). Some of the poems have very simple images and may communicate very simple messages; however, manyif not mostare deliberately difficult to understand, emphasizing the Modern view that life is at best difficult and sometimes ambiguous, incomprehensible, or even meaningless. (Note the negative impact of WWI and the Depression on Modern poetry.) The Harlem Renaissance (a Modernistic Movement among African American Artists) A literary, artistic movement among African-Americans in New York City during the 1920s and 1930s. Influences/Origins: o Writing and thinking of W.E.B. Du Bois, editor of the African-American magazine The Crisis from 191 to1930; called for educated Blacks to lead other Blacks to greater freedom and social equality by teaching Black racial pride by emphasizing African cultural heritage. o Great Black Migration from 1890-1970s: African-Americans left the South for the North for a variety of causes: Southern white mob Labor vacuum in the violence North Economic Aggressive recruitment discrimination in the by Northern South industrialists for black labor at wartime wages Crop failure Not a school whose artists shared a common purpose, but did share a common bond: focusing on Black life from a Black perspective. Some of the major writers: Claude McKay, Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Rudolph Fisher, James Weldon Johnson, and Jean Toomer. Characteristics of Some of the Literature of the Harlem Renaissance

Allusions to African-American spirituals Uses structure of blues songs in poetry (repetition); influence of jazz music on poetry Superficial stereotypes of African-Americans revealed to be complex characters Use of African-American folk traditions Use of African-American dialect Common themes: alienation, marginality, identity, and the notion of "twoness", a divided awareness of one's identity, introduced by W.E.B. Du Bois, one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).and the author of the influential book The Souls of Black Folks (1903): "One ever feels his two-ness - an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled stirrings: two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder."

Contemporary Literature (1945/1950 Present): Trends, Movements, 2nd of the 20th Century & opening of the 21st The period between 1945/1950 to the present is currently referred to as the contemporary period. Eight Trends:

Trend 1: Continuation of Realism in Fiction and Drama. Trend 2: Continuation of Modernistic Techniques and Themes in Poetry, Fiction and Drama. o Some writers of plays, poetry, fiction continue with the Modernist themes evident in the first of 20th century: Life is harsh, difficult, a struggle and meaningless in itself, except for meaning individual creates. The universe is alien and incomprehensible, God is absent or does not exist. Antagonism toward traditional, conservative views of religion and society. o Some writers of plays, poetry, and fiction continue with the same Modernist techniques: Psychological realism: stream-of-consciousness and interior monologues in poems and fiction. Expressionistic techniques in drama. Continued experimentation with language and form. Antagonism toward traditional techniques. Trend 3: Explosion of Growth: Minority Writers (Diversity in Ethnicity, Religion, Gender, Sexual Orientation) & Female Writers: Civil Rights and Feminist Movements Trend 4: Explosion of Growth in Genre Fiction (Diversity in Types of Fiction) Trend 5: Postmodernism: a literary movement that arose as both a reaction against and extension of Modernism in Fiction, Drama, and Poetry (Second Wave of Experimentalism Going Beyond Modernism) o Characteristics of Postmodernism: reaction against an ordered, rational view of the world and emphasis on the absurd (the condition or state in which humans exist in a meaningless, irrational universe wherein people's lives have no purpose or meaning).

Use of the anti-hero (a main character in a dramatic or narrative work who is characterized by a lack of traditional heroic qualities, such as idealism or courage). eclectic writing style, often using detached irony, parody, bricolage, pastiche, fabulation or magical realism, metafiction. irony: a. The use of words to express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning. b. An expression or utterance marked by a deliberate contrast between apparent and intended meaning. c. A literary style employing such contrasts for humorous or rhetorical effect. (Please note: this is not to say that irony is not used in other periods and movements.) parody: a satirical technique that is usually a ridiculous imitation of a known genre or literary form (note parodies of television commercials as skits on Saturday Night Live and Mad TV). bricolage: Something made or put together using whatever materials happen to be available: Even the decor is a bricolage, a mix of this and that. pastiche: 1 : a literary, artistic, musical, or architectural work that imitates the style of previous work; also : such stylistic imitation 2 a : a musical, literary, or artistic composition made up of selections from different works b: hodgepodge fabulation: the act of composing fables, or stories, especially those into which the element of fantasy comes heavily into play magical realism: a Postmodern technique that uses elements of science fiction or fantasy from popular culture (fiction, film, comic books, etc.). metafiction: Fiction that deals, often playfully and selfreferentially, with the writing of fiction or its conventions. o avoidance of the Modernist distinction between high art (literature the classics, canonical works -- and low art (popular culture comics, television, genre fiction) o complete abandonment of linearity in the structure of fiction (Modernist novels, even though they experimented with stream-of-consciousness techniques, that is, non-linearity, still followed a basic linear plot structure); de-emphasis on plot and storytelling o avoidance of traditional closure of themes and situations; keeps opening new possibilities o severance of the artistic illusion (metafiction). o the blending of fiction and nonfiction (nonfiction novels like Truman Capotes In Cold Blood or the New Journalism of authors like Tom Wolfe The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test that use techniques of fiction writing alongside journalistic facts, reshaping the facts). o Some Notable Postmodern Fiction Writers: Donald Barthelme, Thomas Pynchon, Shirley Jackson, Kurt Vonnegut Trend 6: New Regionalism in Fiction Trend 7: Return to Form Poetry or Traditional Verse (Traditionalism Rather Than Experimentalism) o While traditional form (regular metered rhyming poetry) never disappeared in the Modern era even among the Modernists, it has been the minority trend in the 20th and 21st centuries.

o The Fugitive (Anti-Modernist) poets in the 1920s fostered new generations of poets, who continue to write in traditional forms. Note, however, that traditional form does not necessarily mean a return to traditional themes. Traditional poets will sometimes use more poetic diction than free verse writers, though that is not always true. Some representative traditional poets are as follows: Earliest generation after Fugitives: John Hollander, Richard Howard, James Merrill, Robert Lowell Later: John Ashberry, Randall Jarrell and A. R. Ammons (North Carolina), Gwendolyn Brooks, Adrienne Rich, etc. Trend 8: Personal Experimentation, Idiosyncrasy, and Combination of Techniques (Poetry) o Many poets who may have begun as traditionalists later abandoned this approach and began to experiment with other forms. o Many poets use a combination of different techniques: traditionalist, modernist, postmodernist. o Many poets personal styles (idiosyncrasies) make it almost impossible to classify them.