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Modern American Literature


Modern American Literature The Twentieth Century Men travel faster now, but I do not know if they go to better things. Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Modern American Literature

Modern American Literature
  • The Twentieth Century
  • Men travel faster now,
  • but I do not know
  • if they go to better things.
  • Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop

The Moderns
Brinnin, J.M., Leggett, J. "The Moderns".
Elements of Literature. New York Holt, Rinehart
Winston, 2003. 524-536. Print
  • The End of the Innocence
  • WWI- a turning point of American life
  • Before WWI, American fiction had spoken in
    youthful tones brash but not fully original, and
    at times as uncertain as an adolescents (524).
  • The end of WWI brought
  • Loss of innocence
  • Idealism turns to cynicism
  • Writers question authority and tradition
  • New moral codes
  • Deterioration of the connection to the past

The American Dream- Pursuit of A Promise
  • The American Dream Consists of Three Central
  • America is a new Eden a land of beauty bounty
    and unlimited promise. Go west and seek
  • your fortune.
  • Optimism and Promise-
  • Life keeps getting better
  • and we are moving toward
  • an era of prosperity, justice
  • and joy.
  • The importance and triumph

  • of the Self-Reliant individual Anyone can
    make it!
  • The Modern Era is marked by a loss of faith in
    those ideals.

A Crack in the World Breakdown of Beliefs and
  • WWI the Depression erode belief in the American
  • Writers become skeptical
  • of New England, Puritan beliefs.
  • Influenced by Karl Marx (capitalism, BAD) and
    Sigmund Freud (subconscious vs. free will)

A Crack in the World Breakdown of Beliefs and
Traditions cont. Manifests itself
in from of Lit.
  • Authors try to crate something new and different.
  • Stream of consciousness- a narrative technique
    that tries to mimic the way we think.
  • Nonsense you look like a girl you are lots
    younger than Candace color in your cheeks like a
    girl  A face reproachful tearful an odor of
    camphor and of tears a voice weeping steadily and
    softly beyond the twilit door the
    twilight-colored smell of honeysuckle. Bringing
    empty trunks down the attic stairs they sounded
    like coffins French Lick. Found not death at the
    salt lick      Hats not unbleached and not hats.
    In three years I can not wear a hat. I could not.
    Was. Will there be hats then since I was not and
    not Harvard then. Where the best of thought
    Father said clings like dead ivy vines upon old
    dead brick. Not Harvard then. Not to me, anyway.
    Again. Sadder than was. Again. Saddest of all.
  • William Faulkner, The Sound and The Fury
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At home and abroad, The Jazz Age
  • Prohibition (1920-1933) 18th Amendment
    bootlegger, speakeasy, cocktail, flapper, jazz
    organized crime
  • Suffrage (1920) 19th Amendment
  • Women get right to vote and
  • become more liberated in social,
  • intellectual and romantic roles.
  • Edna St. Vincent Millay- poet and liberated
  • The Lost Generation- authors and artist move to
    Paris for a cheap and exotic lifestyle where they
    could drink. Emblematic of the erosion of the
    American dream

Grace Under Pressure The New American Hero
  • Disillusionment with the American way of life is
    a common theme in Modernism, e.g. Sinclair Lewis
    Theodore Dreiser.
  • Ernest Hemingway- reduced flamboyance of
    literary language to a minimum, to the bare bones
    of the truth it must express (532).

Grace Under Pressure The New American Hero
  • Hemmingways Hero-
  • man of action, a warrior, a tough competitor, has
    code of honor, courage and endurance showing
    grace under pressure.
  • This hero is thoroughly disillusioned like his
    creator who felt that at the center of creation
    lies nada.
  • belief in the self, in decency, bravery,
    competence and skill- despite unbeatable odds
    that face us all
  • Seize the day before its gone!

Elements of Modernism in American Lit.
  • Bold experimentation in style and form reflecting
    fragmentation of society
  • Rejection of traditional themes and subjects
  • Disillusionment and loss of the American dream
  • Flawless hero replaced by a disillusioned one
  • Interest in the inner working of the human mind

Modernist Voices in Poetry A Dazzling Period
  • Dickenson and Whitman are the last of the old
    school washed away by a wave of Modernist poets
    who also washed away the last influences of
    British Lit. in America.
  • Ezra Pound, T.S.Elliot
  • Like Modernist painters and sculptors they
    explored new ways of seeing and thinking.
  • Symbolist- An art style developed in the late
    19th century characterized by the incorporation
    of symbols and ideas, usually spiritual or
    mystical in nature, which represent the inner
    life of people.
  • Imagist- A movement by American and English poets
    early in the 20th century in reaction to
    Victorian sentimentality used common speech in
    free verse with clear concrete imagery.

Voices of American Character Poetry in New
England and the Midwest
  • Some poets reject Modernist trend
  • Make their points in plain American speech
  • Edwin Arlington Robinson- a Mainer
  • Robert Frost- a New Englander
  • Edgar Lee Masters- exposed the underbelly of
    Midwest small town life

The Harlem Renaissance Voices of the African
American Experience
  • Conventional Verse of Paul Laurence Dunbar made
    the plight of the African American less
  • Poetic rhythms based on spirituals and jazz, and
    lyrics based on the blues, and street talk- James
    Weldon Johnson, Claude McKay and Langston Hughes
  • The Harlem Renaissance- an artistic movement that
    gained African American artist a new respect in
    music, poetry and prose.

Against the Grain Poetic Voices of the West and
  • Robinson Jeffers- (Ca.) unorthodox attitude
    toward progress, religion and the nature of
    humanity in free verse and meter- inspired the
    beat poets of the 60s.
  • John Crowe Ransom- Southern- wit intellectual,
    polished language of an earlier age.

The American Dream Revisited
  • Modernist writers echo and challenge the American
  • Experiment with form and subject matter but still
    want to know
  • Who are we?
  • Where are we going?
  • What values should
  • guide us on that search
  • for our own human identity.

Matchism- match the ism on the left with its
definition on the right
  • A. the belief in noble, though impractical, goals
  • B. distrustful of human nature and motives
  • C. self-conscious break with the past and a
    search for new forms of expression
  • D. an inclination to put the most favorable
    construction upon actions and events or to
    anticipate the best possible outcome
  • E. a theory and practice of socialism including
    the labor theory of value, dialectical
    materialism, the class struggle, and dictatorship
    of the proletariat until the establishment of a
    classless society
  • F. Freud opened the workings of the unconscious
    mind to scrutiny to try to understand the role
    human sexuality plays in our unconscious thoughts
  • G. a government in which the supreme power is
    vested in the people and exercised by them
    directly or indirectly through a system of
    representation usually involving periodically
    held free elections
  • H. any of various economic and political theories
    advocating collective or governmental ownership
    and administration of the means of production and
    distribution of goods
  • I. an economic system characterized by private or
    corporate ownership of capital goods, by
    investments that are determined by private
    decision, and by prices, production, and the
    distribution of goods that are determined mainly
    by competition in a free market
  • J. the forbidding by law of the manufacture,
    transportation, and sale of alcoholic liquors
    except for medicinal and sacramental purposes

1._____Capitalism 2._____cynicism 3._____Democracy
4._____Idealism 5._____Imagism 6._____Marxism 7._
____Modernism 8._____optimism 9._____Prohibition 1
0.____Psychoanalysis 11.____Socialism 12.____Symbo
What would the ismist say? Modern American Lit.
Match the quote on the right with the doctrine
or ides on the left.
  • A. This is a dry county, only teetotalers here
  • B. The puppy in that line is representative of
    the playfulness of youth.
  • C. I will be in charge until we are all equal.
  • D. Lets vote on it.
  • E. Nature should be free of all of mankinds
  • F. Whats the real reason?
  • G. I think the fact that you are running in your
    dream means that you are trying to get away from
    the conflict in your life.
  • H. Thats so old school its corny!
  • I. The bicycle in the painting means that we are
    all traveling through life and that some pedal
    faster than others.
  • J. The glass is half full
  • 1._____Capitalism
  • 2._____cynicism
  • 3._____Democracy
  • 4._____Idealism
  • 5._____Imagism
  • 6._____Marxism
  • 7._____Modernism
  • 8._____optimism
  • 9._____Prohibition
  • 10.____Psychoanalysis
  • 11.____Socialism
  • 12.____Symbolism

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