Modernism was a literary and artistic movement that was centered around a deviation from every norm it could think of paired with radical experimentation. Everything from subject to writing style was experimented with. Traditional religious, political, and social views were also challenged. In America, the very American Dream itself began to be questioned. Many believe that modernism, which was essentially a systematic questioning of previous beliefs was, a reaction to the events it followed. World War I on its own would have been enough to make a writer question their beliefs. Fifteen million people had been killed over the course of four years. If that weren't enough the Great Depression, the Spanish Influenza, and the Dust Bowl caused many Americans to question Capitalism and the entire American system of government. Another popular theory about the birth and vitalization of the Modernist movement is that the vast social changes that where characteristic of the time lead people to question other aspects of society - in this case literature. In 1920, women were for the first time in American history able to vote. The rise of Socialism made Americans question Capitalism. Another cultural change that many consider a motivating factor is the prohibition of alcohol that in 1919 ushered in the Jazz age. Jazz deviated drastically from the musical forms that it followed and it easily could have given any writer the idea to try something new. Modernist poetry was also vastly different from previous forms. Poets like Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot believed that image was central to good poetry. They chose to create their own literary structures rather than following the ones of the past. Eliot was famous for using sentence fragments and would often avoid the use of overly sentimental language, preferring everyday - bland - words.
Major Themes Discussed; - New forms of Narrative - Stream on Consciousness - Alternative Viewpoints and Modes of Thinking - Form and Content - Departures from Traditional Writing Forms and Styles - Challenging of Traditional Views and Beliefs - Concern With the Sub-Conscious