Modernism, Modernization, Modernité, Modern: Some Definitions
Some traditional descriptions of Modernism:
1) Modernism. . . "defines a specific form of artistic production, serving as an umbrella term for a melange of artistic schools and style which first arose in late-nineteenth-century Europe and America. Characterized by such features as aesthetic self-consciousness, stylistic fragmentation, and a questioning of representation, modernist texts bore a highly ambivalent and often critical relationship to the process of modernization." (Rita Felski. The Gender of Modernity. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard U.P., 1995. pp. 12-13.)
2) Modernism"is the art consequent on the disestablishing of communal reality and conventional notions of causality, on the destruction of traditional notions of wholeness of the individual character, on the linguistic chaos that ensues when public notions of language have been discredited and when all realities have become subjective fictions."
(Malcolm Bradbury and James McFarlane, eds. Modernism: 1890-1930. Harmondsworth; New York : Penguin, 1976. p. 27. )
Some more recent accounts of Modernism:
Race"Linguistic mimicry and racial masquerade were . . . strategies without which modernism could not have arisen." (Michael North, The Dialect of Modernism, Oxford: Oxford U. P., 1994.)
Gender"[T]he literary phenomenon ordinarily called ‘modernism’ is itself—though no doubt overdetermined—for men as much as for women a product of the sexual battle . . . as are the linguistic experiments usually attributed to the revolutionary poetics of the so-called avant-garde."
(Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar. No Man’s Land: The Place of the Woman Writer in the Twentieth Century. Vol. 1. New Haven: Yale U. P., 1988. xii)
National Origin"It seems undeniable that it was the English provincials and their traditions which contributed most to the crucially provincial tradition we now know as modernism"
(Robert Crawford. Devolving English Literature. New York, Oxford U. P., 1992. p. 217.)
Some related terms:
Modernizationis usually taken to denote the complex constellation of socioeconomic phenomena which originated themselves in the context of Western development but which have since manifested themselves around the glob in various forms: scientific and technological innovation, the industrialization of production, rapid urbanization, and ever expanding capitalist market, the development of the nation state, and so on.
The French term modernité, while also concerned with a distinctly modern sense of dislocation and ambiguity, locates it in the more general experience of the aestheticization of everday life, as exemplified in the ephemeral and transitory qualities of an urban culture shaped by the imperatives of fashion, consumerism, and constant innovation.
Modernityis often used as an overarching periodizing term to denote an historical era which may encompass any of the above qualities. (above three descriptions: Rita Felski. The Gender of Modernity. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard U.P., 1995. pp. 12-13.)
Modern:1) Of or pertaining to the present and recent times; originating in the current age or period (first recorded usage 1585) – Oxford Universal Dictionary
Stay Tuned for: "What is Postmodernism and Does It Even Exist?"
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