American Modernism 1914-1939 Between World Wars Many historians have described the period between the two World Wars as a traumatic coming of age. In a post-Industrial Revolution era, America had moved from an agrarian nation to an urban nation. The lives of these Americans were radically different from those of their parents. Modernism
Embraced nontraditional syntax and forms. Challenged tradition Writers wanted to move beyond Realism to introduce such concepts as disjointed timelines. An overarching theme of Modernism was emancipation Roots of Modernism Influenced by Walt Whitmans free verse
Subversion of the poetic self Emily Dickinsons compression English Symbolist writers, ordinary objects take on significance through appearance, description, etc. Modernist Writers
Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, T. S. Eliot, Harlem Renaissance writers such as Langston Hughes,
Zora Neale Hurston, Jean Toomer, Countee Cullen, Characteristics Open form / Free verse Juxtaposition Discontinuous Narrative Classical allusions Borrowing from cultures and other languages
Imagism Direct treatment of the thing, whether subjective or objective. To use absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation. (Diction) Juxtaposition Two images that are otherwise NOT commonly brought together appear
side by side or structurally close together, thereby forcing the reader to stop and reconsider the meaning of the text through the contrasting images, ideas, motifs, etc. For example, He was slouched alertly is a juxtaposition. Discontinuous Narrative Narrative moves back and forth through time. For example: Gatsbys memories of meeting Dan Cody; Mr. Gatz account of Gatsby as a
young man. Past Present Flashback Themes Breakdown of social norms and cultural absolutes Alienation of the individual
Valorization of the despairing individual in the face of an unmanageable future Product of the metropolis, of cities and urbanscapes Urbanscapes Life in the city differs from life on the farm; writers began to explore city life.
Conflicts begin to center on society. Social Norms/Cultural Absolutes Women were given the right to vote in 1920. Hemlines raised; Margaret Sanger introduces the idea of birth control. Karl Marxs ideas flourish; the Bolshevik Revolution
overthrows Russias czarist government and establishes the Soviet Union. Writers begin to explore these new ideas of individual independence and revolution. Theme of Alienation Sense of alienation in literature:
The character belongs to a lost generation The character suffers from a dissociation of sensibility separation of thought from feeling The character has a Dream deferred For Example: Gatsby is alienated from the wealthy with old money because he is considered new money but he is also isolated from the wealthy with new money because his wealth was
obtained through illegal/ immoral activities Valorization of the Individual Characters are heroic in the face of a future they cant control. Demonstrates the uncertainty felt by individuals living in this era.
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Primary and Secondary Sources. Primary Source - firsthand pieces of evidence. Created by people who saw or experienced an event. May be written, spoken, or a material object. Helps historians learn what people were thinking while the events took place.
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