English 11 Honors
Definition of Modernism:
 is an opening up of the world in all of its forms -
theoretically, philosophically, aesthetically, and
 Before Modernism, the world was thought of in a
Realist's fashion – an attempt to describe human
behavior and surroundings or to represent figures and
objects exactly as they act or appear in life.
 takes the reader into a world of unfamiliarity, a
deep introspection, a cognitive thoughtprovoking experience, skepticism of religion, and
openness to culture, technology, and innovation.
 applied both to the content and to the form of a
work, or to either in isolation.
 reflects a sense of cultural crisis which was both
exciting and disquieting,
 putting into question any previously accepted
means of grounding and evaluating new ideas.
 Modernism is marked by experimentation,
particularly manipulation of form, and by the
realization that knowledge is not absolute.
Before the Modernist Movement
-two devastating almost-global wars: World War I (1914-1918)
and World War II (1941-1945)
-huge changes in industry and technology as compared to the
19th century
-the rise in power and influence of international corporations
interconnectedness across the globe: cultural exchanges,
transportation, communication, mass (or popular) culture from
the West (with "West" being considered Europe and North
-the "Westernization" of many formerly traditional societies and
nations and a resulting change in their values (often their the
detriment of the formerly traditional society and nation).
These "modern" values include a belief
political rights
mass literacy and education
private ownership of the means of production
the scientific method
middle class Western value systems
a disbelief in—or at least a questioning of—the
existence of God
 and (sometimes) the emancipation of women
 1) New concentration on the relationship between
language and meaning.
 2) Emphasis on the fluidity of consciousness.
 3) Emphasis on alienated individuals wandering
around the lonely crowds of modern, urban,
industrialized world.
 4) Emphasis on divided self or the dissolution of
the rationally autonomous ego.
 5) Rejection of Romanticism and the Victorians:
modernists must "make it new."
 6) Fear of the "masses," "mass-culture" and the rise
of newer technologies of representation such as
newsprint and the photograph.
Characteristics of Modernist Literature
 uses images ("word pictures") and symbols as typical and
frequent literary techniques
uses colloquial language rather than formal language
seeing language as a technique for crafting the piece of
literature just as an artist crafts a piece of art like a
sculpture or a painting
uses language as a special medium that influences what
that piece of literature can do or can be
saw the piece of literature as an object crafted by an artist
using particular techniques, crafts, skills Form, style, and
technique thus become as important--if not more so--than
content or substance.
often, the intention of writers in the Modern period is to
change the way readers see the world and to change our
understanding of what language is and does
Inside Modernism
 Surrealism
 Expressionism
 Absurdism
 Stream of Consciousness
 Avant Garde
 tried to duplicate in literature the absurd
conditions of contemporary life:
 nameless millions dying in wars, commonplace
horrors such as the Holocaust,
 a world in which "God is dead" cast mankind
afloat in a chartless and unknowable world void
of a spiritual center
 literally meant the "most forwardly placed troops." The movement
sought to eliminate or at least blur the distinction between art and life
often by introducing elements of mass culture. These artists aimed to
"make it new" and often represented themselves as alienated from the
established order. Avant-garde literature and art challenged societal
norms to "shock" the sensibilities of its audience (Childers & Hentzi,
p.26 and Abrams, p.110).
 It is necessary to arrive at selecting an object with the idea of not
being impressed by this object on the basis of enjoyment of any order.
However, it is difficult to select an object that absolutely does not
interest you, not only on the day on which you select it, and which
does not have any chance of becoming attractive or beautiful and
which is neither pleasant to look at nor particularly ugly. (Marcel
 Photograph of Marcel
"Fountain". (Urinal
"readymade" signed
with joke name; early
example of "Dada"
art). A paradigmatic
example of found-art.
Stream of Consciousness
 is a narrative mode that seeks to portray an individual's
point of view by giving the written equivalent of the
character's thought processes, either in a loose interior
monologue, or in connection to his or her actions.
 "Such fools we all are, she thought, crossing Victoria Street. For Heaven only
knows why one loves it so, how one sees it so, making it up, building it round
one, tumbling it, creating it every moment afresh; but the veriest frumps, the
most dejected of miseries sitting on doorsteps (drink their downfall) do the
same; can't be dealt with, she felt positive, by Acts of Parliament for that very
reason: they love life. In people's eyes, in the swing, tramp, trudge; in the
bellow and the uproar; the carriages, motor cars, omnibuses, vans, sandwich
men shuffling and swinging; brass bands; barrel organs; in the triumph and the
jingle and the strange high singing of some aeroplane overhead was what she
loved; life; London; this moment of June."
 -Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
 tried to liberate the subconscious, to see connections
overlooked by the logical mind, to deny the supreme
authority of rationality and so portray objects and events
as they seem rather than as they are.
 (also associated with the avant-garde and dadaism) was
initiated in particular by André Breton
 adherence to the imagination, dreams, the fantastic, and
the irrational."
 Dada is a nonsense word and the movement, in many ways
similar to the trends of avant-garde and surrealism,
"emphasized absurdity, reflected a spirit of nihilism, and
celebrated the function of chance.”
(Childers & Hentzi, p. 69). Major figures include André Breton (breh-TAWN), Georges Bataille
(beh-TYE), Tristan Tzara, Jean Arp, Richard Huelsenbeck, Francis Picabia, Marcel Duchamp (dewSHAHN), Man Ray, Raoul Hausmann, Max Ernst and Kurt Schwitters
 tried to express the inner vision, the inner emotion, or the
inner spiritual reality that seem more important than the
external realities of objects and events.
 Kafka’s work has been taken by many as an imaginative
forecast of the nightmare through which Europe was
compelled to live during the Hitler regime. But its
significance is more subtle and universal; one of the
elements is original sin and another filial guilt. In the story
The Metamorphosis (1915) a young man changes into an
enormous insect, and the nightmare of alienation can go no
Gertrude Stein
 an extremely well-educated woman--an American, a Jew,
the child of immigrant parents, a lesbian, and a feminist-Like Picasso, she wanted to invent Cubism - not in oils but
in words. She worked to subtract plain meaning from
English prose.
Stein uses basic and elementary words to create poems
about everyday items from a “new” perspective.
Wanted to confuse the masses
Compare Steins’ poetry to Picasso’s Cubism.
Gertrude Stein is interested in:
what it is to be an American
what it is to be a woman
how people see things
how people tell stories
She describes her own ordinary experience.
She writes about ordinary, commonplace people in such a
manner that the absolute uniqueness of each is captured.
This is her contribution to the American tradition of
democracy and individualism.
 She writes extensively about her life, and her growth into
her life, as a major American writer of the twentieth
century. She comments on culture, art, politics, and
by: Gertrude Stein (1874-1946)
WHAT is the current that makes machinery, that makes it
crackle, what is the current that presents a long line and a
necessary waist. What is this current.
What is the wind, what is it.
Where is the serene length, it is there and a dark place is not
a dark place, only a white and red are black, only a yellow
and green are blue, a pink is scarlet, a bow is every color. A
line distinguishes it. A line just distinguishes it.
"A Long Dress" is reprinted from Tender Buttons: Objects Food Rooms. Gertrude Stein. New
York: Claire Marie, 1914.
Picasso and Cubism: depart from the traditional
understanding of perspective and spacial cues
-depict different viewpoints simultaneously.
-Traditionally, an object is always viewed from one specific viewpoint -Picasso felt that this was too limiting
desired to represent an object as if they are viewing it from several
angles or at different moments in time.
-the danger was that many of the works of this period are completely
incomprehensible to the viewer, as they start to lose all sense of form.
House with Trees
The Mandolin
T.S. Eliot
 1888 September 26: Thomas Stearns Eliot born in St. Louis, Missouri
to Henry Ware and Charlotte Stearns Eliot.
1898 A student at Smith Academy in St. Louis
1905 To Milton Academy in Massachusetts
1906-10 Undergraduate years at Harvard.
1910-11 Having finished BA and MA degrees at Harvard, spends a year
at the Sorbonne in Paris. In the summer of 1911, finishes a version of
"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"
1911-14 Returns to Harvard to study philosophy as a graduate student.
Begins doctoral thesis on F.H. Bradley.
1914 To England on fellowship; meets Ezra Pound.
1927 Enters the Church of England and assumes British citizenship.
1965 Dies on January 4th; his ashes to East Coker.
TS Eliot believes…
 that poetry should aim at a representation of the complexities of
modern civilization in language and that such representation
necessarily leads to difficult poetry.
His poetry draws on a wide range of cultural reference to depict a
modern world that is in ruins yet somehow beautiful and deeply
As Ezra Pound once famously said, Eliot truly did “modernize himself.”
In addition to showcasing a variety of poetic innovations, Eliot’s early
poetry also develops a series of characters who fit the type of the
modern man as described by Fitzgerald, Faulkner, and others of Eliot’s
The title character of “Prufrock” is a perfect example: solitary,
neurasthenic, overly intellectual, and utterly incapable of expressing
himself to the outside world.
The Waste Land in 1922, now considered by many to be the single most
influential poetic work of the twentieth century. It takes on the
degraded mess that Eliot considered modern culture to constitute,
particularly after the first World War had ravaged Europe.
POETS Of the Modernist Movement:
Gertrude Stein
T.S. Eliot
Ezra Pound
William Carlos Williams
Writers of the Modernist Movement:
F. Scott Fitzgerald- The Great Gatsby
Ernest Hemingway- The Sun Also Rises
William Faulkner- As I Lay Dying

Modernism - SCHOOLinSITES