The –isms that shaped a century
|Fascist leaders Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini|
Often, authors don’t directly refer to widely held attitudes – they just assume that everyone is coming from a particular cultural viewpoint – even if their job is then to challenge it.
The twentieth century saw the questioning of many longstanding cultural norms, which were replaced by newly developed beliefs. For example:
- In the first quarter of the twentieth century, Enlightenment rationalism was superseded by Modernism
- This was itself discarded in the last quarter of the century, as being an inadequate perception of how life held together, in favour of Post-modernism.
But what do all these –isms mean?www.crossref-it.info has just provided some handy explanations in its ‘Making sense of the intangible world of the twentieth century’ section. Launched this week are easy to understand pages where you can find out about the following:
Communism & Fascism – two ideologies which shaped nationhood and conflict across the world for much of the century
Feminism – the shift of authority from patriarchy to the recognition of female values and power
Modernism – the scientific, industrial ‘solution’ to human progress
Post-modernism & individualism – the loss of faith in over-arching truths
Religious attitudes – changes in religious observance and cultural certainties
Multiculturalism – a challenge to the British, white, Protestant ascendancy
Simply by living within a culture that held these attitudes at varying times, British poets, novelists and playwrights reflected them and refracted them.
As the summer holidays roll on for most, why not take some time out to explore this rich background, and therefore get the most out of the English literature of the twentieth century?