Modernism: A Cultural History / Edition 1

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The last 20 years has seen an explosion of work on literary modernism and its cultural and historical contexts. In this innovative study aimed at a general audience, Tim Armstrong seeks to define modernism not only by its aesthetics and literary genres but also by its links with broader cultural areas in which the 'modern' is implicated and debated, and which inform its representational modes.

Modernism: A Cultural History explores modernism's struggle with a split temporality in which the old and the emerging new struggle, and in which, with the horror of the Great War, notions of a traumatic or 'frozen' time emerge. It considers such topics as modernism, market culture and obscurity; the culture of science and technology; politics, economics, eugenics, and sexology; primitivism and race; cinema and sound recording; gender and modernism; and the study of consciousness and the senses. It portrays modernism less as a movement in revolt from the modern world than as attempting to engage with that world: the cry of 'reform!' which characterizes much of post-enlightenment thought is used to describe modernist writers' engagement with politics or bodies as well as with inherited style. In this wide-ranging study, a parade of writers - from the canonical like Pound, Eliot and Woolf to less well-known figures like Mary Butts, Muriel Rukeyser and Sterling Brown - are considered, and literary movements like Imagism, Surrealism and the Harlem Renaissance are drawn into the debate.

Students and scholars alike, of Modernism and Twentieth Century Literature, will find the breadth, clarity and fresh approach of this text invaluable.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In seven pithy chapters Amrstrong manages to write illuminatinglyon issues as various as history, time, psychoanalysis, trauma, war,nationality, economics, politics, gender, canonicity, mass culture,advertising, social reform, sexology, the occult and spiritualism,eugenics, subjectivity, technology (especially photography, cinema,and radio), race, and imperialism."

— Andrzej Gasiorek and Peter Boxall, The Year's Work inCritical and Cultural Theory

"Typically wide-ranging and consummately synthesized, this isthe most stimulating, illuminating and pacey account of modernistculture I have read. Armstrong is one of the foremost authoritiesin his field and his book is certain to become a criticaltouchstone for students and experts alike."

— David Bradshaw, Oxford University

"Tim Amstrong’s Modernism: A Cultural History is acomprehensive and yet original introduction to the culture ofmodernism, a team Armstrong defines far more widely than previouswriters. This book covers a wider range of non-literary topics thanany other introduction to modernism, taking in mass culture,psychology, the sciences, technology, race and empire, among manyothers. But it also includes well-informed and persuasivediscussions of a host of literary figures usually ignored inhistories of the modern movement. In its sheer inclusiveness,Modernism: A Cultural History expands and alters our notionof what the term 'modernism' can mean."

— Professor Michael North, UCLA

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Tim Armstrong is Professor of Modern Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London.

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Table of Contents


1 Modernity, Modernism and Time.

2 Mapping Modernism.

3 Modernism, Mass Culture and the Market.

4 Reform! Bodies, Selves, Politics, Aesthetics.

5 The Self and the Senses.

6 The Vibrating Universe: Science, Spiritualism, Technology.

7 Modernism's Others: Race and Empire.

References and Further Reading.


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