The point of the plural is precisely that writers of the "Modern" period were
not a single school though they shared, for example, a reaction to extreme
changes in society and culture, like WWI, technology, new theories of
politics and psychology, desires for new aesthetic values. It is not the
case that writers are either one unified group OR nothing at all in relation to
one another. Nor is it an issue of chronology.
For example, Perl's claims about WCW's views of Eliot are commonly
known and were said by Williams himself, who openly hated what Eliot had
done to poetry. But both poets fundamentally altered forms of traditional
poetry and addressed concerns associated with "modern" life.
The value of "modernisms" is that it recognizes both the commitment to
change and to "the new" and also the complexities of many varied
responses to them.
I would recommend Peter Nicholls's _Modernisms_ as a major text in this
redefinition. That is not an endorsement of every claim he makes. But, for
example, his discussion of how time is differently viewed by the Futurists
and by Eliot is very perceptive and revealing.
Date sent: Thu, 9 Aug0400
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From: Ken Armstrong <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Modernism and -isms,etc.
--On Thursday, August 09, 2001 12:03 AM +0000 [log in to unmask]
> On 8/8/01, Nancy Gish writes:
>> "Modernism" is not any more easily pinned down
>> or made coherent than "Romanticism." That is why
>> many scholars now use the term "Modernisms."
It may be true that "modernism" does not signify, but if it doesn't, how
would "modernisms" overcome the same problem, for Pete's sake, unless
the assertion is that that the term, singular or plural, merely refers to
simple chronology (if there is such a thing), with no overriding common
trait(s)? In which case, yes, the whole kibosh is meaningless. True? If
modernism doesn't mean anything, pluralizing it won't help. (Nothing comes
Which would suit me, as then, what on earth would "post-modernism" be?
Perl's "distinctions" seem almost to take being distracted by
distraction one more step, i.e. classifying the distractions,--but not
really, because the end is the same.
Just a thought,