The Effects of Modernism on Society

Published: 2021-08-09 16:30:06
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The effects of modernism on society has not always been positive. It has changed the way we look at literature, music, architecture, religion etc. and some of those changes take a certain taste to appreciate them. At the time, not everyone approved of modernism. Some thought of it as destructive, immoral and crazy. Modernism moved to postmodernism and changed the way we looked at life. People’s desire for the next new thing has led us to some strange places. Modernism is a movement that began during the late 19th and early 20th century. It includes the creations of people who were becoming disillusioned by the traditional forms of art and felt alienated with the morals of the time.
Modernism was inspired by a time after World War 1 when people started to experiment. Individualism was just beginning to be encouraged in this time era. Ezra Pound said it best when he said, ??Make it new?? and really captured the essence of modernism. After the horrors of the war, people changed the way they felt about Western society. Before modernism, people mostly socialized face to face, and everybody knew who their neighbors were. People didn’t move around much, preferring to live in the same house for decades. The world seemed bigger. (Document 1)Musicians today are always trying to push the boundaries. Modernism allowed musicians the freedom to redefine what was music. Musicians were fascinated by the possibilities of new techniques to make new sounds. The jazz of the 1920s and 1930s is mostly associated with modernism. New technology in recording allowed for more diversity. Artists began to use electronically produced sounds. Some musicians will say that all noise is a form of music. You can see the impact in music today. Sometimes going to concerts is like being assaulted on all sides by noise. (Document 3)Writers and authors were also trying to push boundaries with their writings. When it came to style, you began to see more novels with choppy plots than ones with a clear beginning, middle and end. In poetry it meant free verse instead of the traditional forms. Themes were more subtle leaving the reader to have to think more. The publication of James Joyce??s ??Ulysses?? in 1922 was a huge development in modernist literature. It uses a technique called stream of consciousness which ignores sentence structure and uses bits of thoughts to show what the subjects are thinking. ??Ulysses?? is considered to be one of the most important works of modernist literature.
It was banned in some countries as being obscene. Other modernist authors whose work rejected chronological continuity were Virginia Wolff, Gertrude Stein and William Faulkner. The strides that were made in the struggle for minority voices to be heard was amazing. African Americans took part in the Harlem Renaissance and women became leaders in the Imagist movement. Modernism changed the way authors felt about content, form and style and writers today are still impacted by it. (Document 3)Modernism had a huge impact on artwork. Rejecting conservative values and putting emphasis on materials and techniques, modern artists began to push their own boundaries and pioneer new ways of making art. Instead of focusing on historical, religious or mythological subjects, artists such as Gustave Courbet, began painting scenes of daily life. The art world was shocked. Impressionists also painted daily life, but focused on light and the effects of weather. Challenging the traditional way of creating, they were called avant-garde which meant they were ahead of their time. Artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin and Paul Cezanne were the first to be called avant-garde. There were many styles that characterize modern art. Jackson Pollock is a painter known for abstract expressionism. He found a new way of making art by not using a paint brush, but instead letting paint drop onto the canvas. (Document 4) Today, anything can be called art. If you go to any Museum of Modern Art it is always a strange experience. Sometimes it is hard to tell which part of the display is the art. Modernism has also changed architecture. Modernists usually prefer to emphasize simplicity and clear lines rather than the gothic, elaborate style of the past. Architects began experimenting with new materials like glass, steel and reinforced Buildings combined art and engineering. Cast-iron, a new industrial material, was used to produce bridges and skyscrapers.
The Eiffel Tower broke all previous limitations on how tall man-made objects could be which resulted in a very different urban environment (Document 4) Modern architecture remained the popular style for corporate buildings until the 1980s when postmodernism became the style of choice.Modernism is humanity’s attempt to understand itself. It affected religion by opening up the beliefs that no religion is better than another, the bible is not to be taken literally and individuals must make up their own ethical principles. Skepticism is a hallmark if modernists. Historians and archaeologists gave an evidence-based perspective that challenged whether the bible was based in facts. It eventually led to evolution being taught in schools and more tolerance for other religions. (Document 2)By 1930, modernism had entered popular culture. It had gone around the world, giving birth to new ideas and technology that had helped society. For example, electricity, the telephone and the car, and the need to live with them and repair them, created social change. The world seemed to shrink in size. Today the internet gives us a wealth of information at our fingertips which makes the world seem even smaller.It is hard to pinpoint exactly when modernism ended and postmodernism began, but most agree that it happened some time after the second World War. Modernism was characterized by a dramatic change of thought, where people tried to improve their environment. Postmodernism was a reaction to modernism and was influenced by the disenchantment of World War 2.
Modernist thinking is about the abstract search for truth. Postmodernism believes there is no universal truth, abstract or not. The urge to break with the norm lost it value when everyone was doing it. But what really ended the hopefulness of modernism was the end of optimism by the horrific glimpses of mans awfulness. Bombs and concentration camps showed that things aren’t getting better but much worse. Postmodernism is the age of skepticism, and the awareness of those who were left in the margins.(Document 5) It advocated the belief that there is much to learn from the past that could be beneficial to the present. Even though the changes from modernism weren’t always positive, the search for the next, best new thing has given us a variety of artistic forms and philosophies that we would not have otherwise had.

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