The Age of Uncertainty: How the World Wars Forever Altered Literature and the Arts

By:
Prof. Jennifer Arin
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How did the extreme circumstances of The Age of Uncertainty impact the literature of the times? English author Virginia Woolf once commented that before the war and the years spent gearing up for it, literature was optimistic, dealing with subjects like hopeful love and cheerful Sunday afternoon gatherings. While certainly not all pre-war literature was cheerful, the art of the Age of Uncertainty reflected a far more frequent sense of disenchantment and despair, frustration and cynicism, paralysis and inertia (all the good things wrapped up in one!). Resolutions were replaced by irresolutions, and by a sense of uncertainty about the future. In addition to the disillusioned tone that permeated the arts came a movement away from structure and form. Examples would be the fractured images of Cubism, the discordant and syncopated music of Stravinsky, and the shift from ballet, with its requirement that female dancers wear their hair in buns so as not to "break" the dancer's line, to modern dance, with its more jagged motions. The reason for this shift? With three dictators in place – Hitler in Germany and Austria, Mussolini in Italy, and Franco in Spain – artists came to view structure, even in their art, as another form of tyranny from which to free themselves and their audiences.


Keywords: Age of Uncertainty
Stream: Aesthetics, Design
Presentation Type: Workshop Presentation in English
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Prof. Jennifer Arin

Lecturer in English, San Francisco State University
USA

Jennifer Arin is editor of "Transformations", an anthology of poetry and art, and also has authored two books of poetry, both from Thicket Press: "Tangle Vine" (2004) and "The Roots of Desire" (forthcoming). Her essays and other writings have won awards and been published in both the U.S. and Europe: in 'Poet Lore', 'The San Francisco Chronicle', 'Berkeley Poetry Review', 'Lucero', 'Chain', 'Humanities' and 'Paris/Atlantic Review', among others. She is the recipient of the Villa Montalvo, Robert Browning and Poems of Joy poetry awards, and has received multiple grants, including one from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Poets and Writers' "Writers On Site Residency", and a PEN Writers' Grant. Prof. Arin teaches literature and writing at San Francisco State University.

Ref: H05P0140