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The Modernist Movement

Unit 8
Modernist Literature & PARADIGM SHIFTS

What is a paradigm shift?

A Massive shift or change
in public perceptionin the
way people think
Religion to Science
Religious belief started to give
way to science as the
predominant way of
understanding the universe.
Traditional to Avant-Garde

What is Avant-Garde?
Works that are experimental,
radical or unorthodox, with
respect to art, culture or society
Pushing the boundaries of what
has traditionally been accepted as
the norm
Conscious to Subconscious

Subconscious: part of the mind that is

not fully-aware but influences behavior

Freud believed humans became civilized

by repressing their wild, primitive
urgesthat are still just beneath the
Another Characteristic:
The Lost Generation
Gertrude Stein reportedly quoted her mechanic when she branded the
young group of artists and writers who attended her Paris salon as "a
lost generation."
Based on the idea that the ages of 18-25 generally marked the period
during which individuals became civilized members of society.
But the soldiers returning from WWI, which ended in 1919, had missed
this crucial "becoming a good citizen" period. They also returned
traumatized by crazy modern warfare: poison gas and trenches don't
exactly make for happy memories.
Modernist Dystopian Literature
Generally: 1984 was written in response to Orwells
fears about Socialism. Although he was himself a
Democratic Socialist, he saw some significant flaws
in the types of government that evolved in the first
half of the twentieth century.
Written in 1949, he drew a picture of a nightmarish
world 35 years in the future.
Today, we categorize this novel as dystopian.
Utopia vs Dystopia
a future ideal society in which all depicts a future society in which
of societys problems are all of societys problems run wild
eliminated and all virtue is crushed
What are the problems facing society today? List
Homelessness Greed

Poverty Avarice

Racism Crime

Disease Violence

Classism Sexism
Reality of Utopia vs Dystopia
Is a utopian society possible in reality? Is a dystopian society possible in reality?
Where can we find historical or contemporary examples?

Nazi Germany and Stalins Russia came about partially in a pursuit

of UTOPIAbut the end result more closely resembled DYSTOPIA.

What might the reality of dystopian societies, but the fantasy of

utopian ones, suggest about human nature?
UTOPIA: Humans are essentially GOOD
or at least NEUTRAL (a blank slate)
All that is bad or evil can be eradicated by way of environmental
changes, education, etc.

DYSTOPIA: Humans are essentially BAD

the idea that human beings are basically inclined to do evil things
rather than good ones, and, left to their own devices, without the law
and fear of punishment to prevent them, will indulge their selfish, evil
Writers were drawn again to the concept of Original Sin after the
Second World War and, for example, the discovery of the concentration
camps by the allies.
Orwells Dystopia

If you want a picture of the future,

imagine a boot stamping on a human
face for ever.
(1984, part III, chapter iii)
A dystopian novel does not represent the authors
entire worldview.

A dystopian novel does not represent the authors

exact predictions about the future.
A possible future
A What if?

1984 warns us of the world we might be living in if we allow

political leaders to create a state in which people have no
rights and freedom.
1984 was published in 1949, four years after the Second
World War ended. That war was fought against totalitarian
countries such as Hitlers Germany and Mussolinis Italy. In
1949 Russia, under Stalin, was a Communist empire that
Orwell had come to fear and distrust.
Satire is a way of making fun of people, systems, ways of
government, etc.
It usually does so cruelly, by making them look ridiculous
and exposing them to laughter.
By doing this, satire aims to make those people, systems, and
ways of government change.
Satire employs exaggeration, reversal, parody, and
incongruity/irony to mock people and institutions.

To enlarge, increase,
or represent
something beyond
normal bounds
Satire exaggerates
something so that it
becomes ridiculous
and its faults can be
To present the opposite of the
normal order.
Reversal can focus on the order
of events, such as serving
dessert before the main dish or
having breakfast for dinner.
Additionally, reversal can focus
on hierarchical orderfor
instance, when a young child
makes all the decisions for a
To present things that
are out of place or are
absurd in relation to its
Examples of Satire in 1984: Incongruity
One aspect of satire in the novel is the use of labels to try and make something seem
better than it is. An example of this incongruity is all the supplies and housing that
have 'victory' at the beginning, such as Victory coffee, Victory cigarettes, Victory gin,
and the Victory Mansions where Winston, the main character, lives.
The idea behind the name is that people are supposed to view these supplies as superior.
'Victory' is a positive term, indicating superiority over something. By using this label for sub-
par products, Orwell is satirizing the propaganda that was seen throughout WWII. This
propaganda also used buzzwords like 'victory' to give the illusion of positive superiority,
regardless of the actual state of things. This is also true of the names of the various
To imitate the techniques and/or style of
some person, place, or thing in order to
ridicule the original.
For parody to be successful, the reader
must know the original text that is being

Pretty Pink Tractor vs Big Green Tractor

Examples of Satire: Exaggeration and Irony
Orwell also uses his novel to satirize the fanaticism and blind stupidity possible in
people as a group. He does this through the blind acceptance of Party members of
anything the Party says. No matter how ridiculous or clearly false it is, Party
members are expected to (and do) accept it without question as the truth.
A running example of this is when Oceania changes who it is at war with, which it does every
few years. Whoever they are currently at war with, people believe that is who they have
always been at war with. Where are some outlandish examples of this in the novel?
1984: Bleak, Dystopian Satire
George Orwell, in 1984, does not give any modifications or ways to
improve government. There's no implicit message or hope or beauty or
freedom in this book.
This kind of satire is attack-only. His words are meant to destroy
1984s totalitarian government, not to tweak it. You can't have Big
Brother be reformed politically or socially. He must be
obliterated. There's no conciliation, no qualification, no room for
Ironically, Big Brother wins against the individual. That's Orwell's
thesis. There is only torture in this type of government. It's not a
subtle message. There's no hope. Period.
Exploring Dystopia:
1984 & Enders Game
Decide as a group which option you will choose:
Enders Game Newspaper
Enders Game Gameshow
Enders Game Presentation: How Realistic is
Enders Game?

Create an advertisement for a new movie, cartoon

or TV series about Winston the Anti-Hero
Present your advertisement in video, live-action, or
print/graphic format

Lois Lane + torture freedom of the press

Create the front page for the Oceana
Film a segment of the Oceana nightly news
Orwell the fortune teller? How realistic is 1984?
Research the following questions:
Does the technology described in the novel exist now or could it be
Which totalitarian regimes have come closest to resembling Oceana?
How many of Orwells predictions already become a part of US
history/present day?

Present your findings in a clear, interesting and creative format

(including graphics)
Pin the Blame on the Resistance
The Party blamed everything from war to newspaper typos
on a group called the Resistance. This is called
When have real governments or powerful groups of people
used this same tactic in history? Why? What happened? Has
scapegoating ever happened in America?

Present your findings as a board game, game show, power

point, drama (live or video) or news report
The Modern Protagonist
An Archetypal Character who is almost as common in modern fiction as the Ideal
Hero, an antihero is a protagonist who has the opposite of most of the traditional
attributes of a hero.
(S)he may be bewildered, ineffectual, deluded, or merely apathetic.
More often an antihero is just an amoral misfit.
While heroes are typically conventional, anti-heroes, depending on the
circumstances, may be preconventional (in a "good" society), postconventional (if the
government is "evil") or even unconventional.
Not to be confused with the Villain who is the opponent of Heroes (and Anti-Heroes,
for that matter).