Literary Renaissance 1915-1935
Transcript Literary Renaissance 1915-1935
20th Century American Literature
Unit Target: I will define American literary
movements and their impact on 20th century
•World War I : 1914-1918
-The U.S joins WWI in 1917
-New destructive weapons!
•Russian Revolution breaks out in 1917
-Ideas of rebellion against government are spread!
•19TH Amendment gives women the right to vote in 1920
-The presence and focus on each individual is
• Psychoanalysis discoveries by Sigmund Freud: 1856-1939
-What creates the unconscious?
Historical Themes in Literary Renaissance:
Freudian psychology, enlarged economic
opportunities and political rights for women,
the development of science and technology –
all suggested new possibilities for poetry.
Religious skepticism, growing since the last
century, and the moral disillusionment
caused by the war were recurrent themes in
the new poetry. There was spiritual
emptiness of an industrialized civilization and
the sense of alienation and futility!
• Renaissance: A revival or renewed interest in
During this time period, there was a large
number of new authors. Their originality,
daring and general success of new forms of
expression; and the absorbed response of a
reading public larger and more critical than
ever before produced a national literature!
Ever heard of these authors?!
Ezra Pound Leads us into a new era
• Pound joins a literary circle with British and
American Poets and together they revolt against
• Pound encouraged poets to break with the past
in order to achieve greater freedom of
• Pound’s theories led to the concept of Imagism,
the precision of diction and image, freedom in
the choice of subjects, and controlled freedom of
rhythm (FREE VERSE!)
Imagism: a strand of modernism!
• The Imagist movement included English and
American poets in the early 20th Century who
wrote free verse and were devoted to a “clarity
of expression through the use of precise visual
• The Imagists rejected the sentiment and flabby
abstract language and “careless thinking” of
much Romantic and Victorian poetry.
• They expressed simplicity-the language of
common speech, “but to employ always the
exact word, not the nearly-exact, nor the merely
• Imagists wrote poetry without constraints
having freedom of choice in their writing (a lot
like free verse)
• Some poets used “American rhythm” that
mimicked that of jazz and spirituals
Pound’s Definition of Imagist Poetry:
A Notebook Entry
I. Direct treatment of the "thing," whether
subjective or objective.
II. To use absolutely no word that does not
contribute to the presentation.
III. As regarding rhythm: to compose in
sequence of the musical phrase, not in
sequence of the metronome (FREE
Imagism vs. Romanticism
“In a Station of the Metro”
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
“The Yellow Violet”
When beechen buds begin to swell,
And woods the blue-bird’s warble know,
The yellow violet’s modest bell
Peeps from the last year’s leave below.
-(only the first stanza) from Romanticist William Cullen Bryant
Stream of Consciousness
• A literary technique
that dramatized the
random flow of
through the minds of
particular moments in
• Writers who used this
Katherine Anne Porter.
Writers of this time….
• Were characterized by aesthetic originality and
• Used determination to scatter conventional taboos
against the expression of physical and psychological
• Believed in the symbolic or belief in the value of what
• Affirmed dignity and value of the individual in the face
of the dehumanizing forces of the new century.
• Literature continued its concern for individual trapped
by blind laws of heredity and environment of chance
(Think Naturalism & DARWIN).
Common Themes in Fiction
• “Revolt from the village” (movement from the
farm to the city)
• Reckless youth of the 20’s
• The social protest novel of the 30’s
• The Lost Generation (Americans wounded –
body and soul – wandering around Europe
seeking pleasure and meaning for their lives)