Theorizing the Avant-Garde: Modernism, Expressionism, and the Problem of Postmodernity

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Overview

In Theorizing the Avant-Garde: Modernism, Expressionism, and the Problem of Postmodernity, Richard Murphy mobilizes theories of the postmodern to challenge our understanding of the avant-garde. He assesses the importance of the avant-garde for contemporary culture and for the debates among theorists of postmodernism such as Jameson, Eagleton, Lyotard and Habermas. Murphy reconsiders the classic formulation of the avant-garde in Lukacs, Bloch and Burger, especially their discussion of aesthetic autonomy, and investigates the relationship between art and politics via a discussion of Marcuse, Adorno and Benjamin. Combining close textual readings of a wide range of works of literature as well as films, it draws on a rich array of critical theories, such as those of Bakhtin, Todorov, MacCabe, Belsey and Raymond Williams. This interdisciplinary project will appeal to all those interested in modernist and avant-garde movements of the early twentieth century, and provides a critical rethinking of the present-day controversy regarding postmodernity.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...original and fascinating..." Journal of English and Germanic Philology

"Murphy's book nevertheless makes an entirely persuasive and superbly documented case for the continuing impact of the historical avant-garde on the culture of postmodernity." College Literature

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Product Details

Table of Contents

1 Theories of the avant-garde 1
Introduction 1
Revisions of Burger's theory 26
2 Re-writing the discursive world: revolution and the expressionist avant-garde 49
3 Counter-discourses of the avant-garde: Jameson, Bakhtin and the problem of realism 74
Doblin and the avant-garde poetics of expressionist prose 74
Benn: modernity and the double bind of rationality 98
Bakhtin and double-voiced discourse: Doblins "The Murder of a Buttercup" and the double bind 114
4 The poetics of hysteria: expressionist drama and the melodramatic imagination 142
5 Kafka's photograph of the imaginary. Dialogical interplay between realism and the fantastic. (The Metamorphosis) 180
6 Weimar silent film and expressionism: representational instability and oppositional discourse in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 202
Carnival desire: representation and discourse 202
Framing the interpretation: the frame-narrative and the conflict of discourses 230
7 Conclusion. Postmodernism and the avant-garde
Towards a poetics of postmodernism: simulation, parody and history 251
Lyotard's postmodern sublime and Habermas' "enlightenment project of modernity": modernism, mass culture and the avant-garde 273
Bibliography 300
Index 314
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