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UTEL

Glossary of Literary Theory
by Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown

Modernism:

A term used to describe the characteristic aspects of literature and art between World War I and World War II. Influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche's annunciation of the death of God Karl Marx's view of consciousness as a product of sociohistorical factors, Sigmund Freud's view of the unconscious as the determinant of motivation and behavior, and the dislocating effects of the carnage and devastation of the war, modernism embodies a lack of faith in Western civilization and culture -- its humanism and rationalism. In poetry, fragmentation, discontinuity, allusiveness, and irony abound; in fiction, chronological disruption, linguistic innovation, the stream-of-consciousness device, and point-of-view narration; in art and theater, expressionism and surrealism.


© Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown,
University of Toronto
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Last modified: March 31, 1997