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Modernist Intermediality: The False Dichotomy between High Modernism and Mass Culture
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Modernist Intermediality: The False Dichotomy between High Modernism and Mass Culture

Author: James O’Sullivan
Edition/Format: Article Article : English
Publication:English Studies, v98 n3 (20170403): 283-309
Summary:
Throughout this paper I will argue that the “high modernism” of the inter-war era did not seek to distinguish itself from “low” art, and that, as a literary movement, it was very much engaged with mass culture. I will explore this in relation to two of the epoch’s most critically acclaimed authors, James Joyce and T. S. Eliot, giving particular focus to Ulysses and The Waste Land. My argument extends what Andreas  Read more...
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Document Type: Article
All Authors / Contributors: James O’Sullivan
ISSN:0013-838X
Language Note: English
Unique Identifier: 7065460433
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Abstract:

Throughout this paper I will argue that the “high modernism” of the inter-war era did not seek to distinguish itself from “low” art, and that, as a literary movement, it was very much engaged with mass culture. I will explore this in relation to two of the epoch’s most critically acclaimed authors, James Joyce and T. S. Eliot, giving particular focus to Ulysses and The Waste Land. My argument extends what Andreas Huyssen suggests in the After the Great Divide, that the separation of high and low culture is a critical construct that has no real basis in the literature it problematises. My argument will be founded on the notion of intermediality. I will show that, in their engagement with differing mass media, Joyce and Eliot deconstruct this false dichotomy by merging classical works with the products and instruments of mass culture. This paper will refrain from contributing further to the delineation of Joycean and Eliotic allusions, but rather, build an argument around Joyce and Eliot’s position in relation to mass media in the context of literary and cultural criticism.

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