Summative Entry

The Twentieth Century must be seen as the first wherein the immense depth and breadth of the human experience was truly explored and exasperated. No other century has seen experienced the utter devastation that both the First and Second World War’s brought about. Yet, whilst remaining distinctive aspects of the Twentieth Century, these events do not define the entirety of the period. Rather, the Twentieth Century also bore witness to periods of unity and tolerance. The rise of cultural integration and multiculturalism brought with it a movement towards the reversal of colonialism that had so overwhelmingly dictated the 18th and 19th Centuries.

The broad experience of the Twentieth Century inspired artists to push the boundaries, challenge tradition and explore new art mediums, content, and form. The Imagists were one such group of artists that sought to push the boundaries of the poetic medium. Rather than compose poems that were lengthy, and crammed with aristocratic language, the Imagists employed minimal words, and used language that was simple to understand. What this did was make poetry far more accessible. No longer was poetry an exclusive affair, restricted to the upper echelons of society, it became something that all classes of individuals could understand. One Imagist poem that I enjoy reading is William Carlos William’s “The Red Wheelbarrow”. It exemplifies what makes an Imagist poem so distinct, as in just sixteen words, Williams provides a commentary on nostalgia, the natural world and pastoral life, that provokes deeper thought within his audience. The ways in which the Imagists sought to challenge tradition and explore new ways of thinking is still a relevant pursuit within the 21st Century. The human experience is built upon the constant pushing of boundaries, and as such, the relevance of the Imagists in the 20th Century, and equally experimental groups within the 21st Century cannot be overstated.

As has been stated, the First and Second World Wars were major events within the 20th Century, that had a major impact on the social and cultural landscape of the world, especially within Europe. In particular, the brutality of the First World War led many to reassess the honour and dignity that many believed partaking in war bestowed upon this. This reality was shattered by the utter devastation that plagued the countless battlefields. Within his poem “On Passing The New Menin Gate” Siegfried Sassoon reasserts the perils of glorifying war and failing to completely understand the harsh reality of human conflict. Sadly, within the 21st Century, war and violent conflict exist as mainstays in global and domestic politics worldwide. Further, the glorification of conflict is still firmly established in discourse surrounding war, and thus the message behind Siegfried Sassoon and other prominent First World War poets, remains ever relevant in the 21st Century.

Therefore, these are just two examples of issues that social issues and events that shaped the Twentieth Century and are still relevant within today. The pushing of artistic boundaries is a key aspect of the Twentieth Century, and thus the work of the Imagists in challenging poetic tradition remains just as important within the 21st Century. Further, a failure to understand the harsh and destructive realities of war became a key observation from prominent poets from the First World War, such as Siegfried Sassoon. The glorification of violence and conflict remains an issue today, and therefore makes these poems and pieces of literature from the 20th Century all the more important. Hence, whilst coming nowhere near exploring the depth of the 20th Century, these examples provide insights into just two of the social issues and events that are still relevant today, in the 20th Century.  

Peer Review 4

Peer Review of Jared Marks’ blog post which can be found here: https://jaredmarksbrain.home.blog/2020/09/24/virginia-woolf-believes-in-the-power-of-the-imagination-to-liberate-human-beings-from/

Hi Jared, I really enjoyed reading this blog post. I really enjoyed your discussion of the different perspectives on the imagination before exploring your own opinion. This made for quite a wholistic blog post to read. I am also a massive fan of Camus, and definitely agree with the links you made between The Plague and present-day events. Once again, I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on the imagination and look forward to reading more of your posts throughout the semester.  

Write a paragraph that continues this sentence by James Joyce and the expresses your own hopes for your life:

” I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can…..”

I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, for life’s greatest injustice is the unwavering passage of time, in that it passes and never returns. Doubts, reservations, thoughts and actions held back, are life’s true misery, and as thus the expression of self, through one’s own self or some other representative form, is to live on indefinitely, to alleviate if not superficially the joyless movement from age to age. For just as immortality is gained through post-humous relevance and reminder, with one living on through their creation, so too is immortality perceived only by the living. It is here that one must find a balance; to live purely for creation, to achieve accolades long after natural life is to deprive ones self of true life. In the same respect, to live with no foresight is to perish like a burning match plunged into a bottomless ocean. Yes, the match did burn on its descent and produced its light and heat in splendour, yet nothing remains when swallowed up by the eternal depths of the ocean. In the same way, to live solely for the present is to inevitably endure life short-lived. As thus, I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, with equal parts foresight and reminder of present joy, tempering my choices.  

Peer Review 3

Peer Review of Andrew Colman’s blog post which can be found here: https://adventuresinliterature.art.blog/2020/08/28/blog-3-nude-in-a-rocking-chair/

Hi Andrew, I really enjoyed reading this blog post. The ekphrastic section of this post was a powerful description of a complex and somewhat ambiguous painting. I quite enjoyed the line “Baleful eyes stare forth in wild mockery, bulging as they gaze upon a world transformed, or perhaps simply uncovered.” This created almost a sense of intrigue within the piece and really drew me in as a reader. The way that you incorporated not only your own personal thoughts on the painting but also those of the Art Gallery, transformed this post from a strong ekphrastic piece, into a personal exploration of the context of Picasso and his works. Once again, I really enjoyed reading this, and definitely look forward to reading more of your posts throughout the semester.

Virginia Woolf believes in the power of the imagination to liberate human beings from the shackles of their enslavement. Do you have a comment on this statement?

The first thing to break down is exactly what is meant by the term “enslavement”. I think that the angle being taken here is that modern life and society presents itself as this enslavement. Through the dehumanisation of individuals, as nameless, faceless cogs in one large corporate machine, individuals may view themselves as slaves in this regard. Yet the argument could also be made for the individual’s enslavement to consumerism, on the other side of the corporate equation. Rather than being a cog within a corporate machine, they instead become IV drips of money, greedily drained by Big Business for profit. Regardless of the approach taken towards what enslavement truly means, the question stills remains, as to whether Virginia Woolf’s belief in the power of imagination as a tool for liberation, is truly valid. The answer to this question, is that sadly, there is no one answer. The ambiguity and personal nature of what enslavement truly means to an individual, in turn, means that the universal prescription of imagination that this statement alludes to, is somewhat hard to justify. As has been seen, enslavement can take many forms, and to each individual different methods, different approaches will provide to them, freedom, and liberation. Whether that be the power of imagination, or something completely different, to believe fully that imagination is the key to liberation, is perhaps too simple an answer, given the complexity of the parameters set. That is not to say though, that imagination holds no merits. As Woolf’s works make abundantly clear, the imagination is most definitely a powerful tool.

Peer Review 2

Peer Review of Dylan Versola’s blog post which can be found here: https://dylanversola.home.blog/2020/08/25/blog-3-2/

Hi Dylan, I really enjoyed reading this blog post. The way in which you extensively explored the question with a multi-faceted response made it quite engaging. I especially enjoyed the personal example that you gave at the end to conclude the blog post. In particular I like the line “Bleached of any real hope that may remain.” It is such an evocative and intense statement that it really stands out against what is an intriguing blog post that grips its readers. I look forward to reading more of your posts in the future.

Write a short poem in the style of the Imagists and explain what you think the Imagists were trying to do with their radically new approach to language.

Coming Home

I saw the light under your door

which means either you’re here or you just forgot.

.

where did I go

that I don’t know

where you went

or if

.

Explanation

The Imagists forged a new literary path with their approach to language. Almost suddenly they conjured a new paradigm for poetic technique that contrasted almost entirely from the existing. Poetry before Imagism was word-heavy, and more often than not were focused on subjects of nobility or grandeur. The Imagists sought to completely shift this with the introduction of minimalist poems whose subjects were lacking the grandeur that the former held in abundance. I believe that this new approach was undertaken for a multitude of reasons, but prominently to provide accessibility. To understand poetry of that time, the dense, near superfluous verses and stanzas that were embedded with hard to understand images and metaphors, one would have to be well educated. In creating minimalist poems that tended to use simple, common words that could be understood simply. What this did, was shift the concept of meaning behind poetry. No longer did a poem hold one, or a few, preordained, objective meanings. Rather meaning became inherently subjective, as each individual was and still is able to interpret the ambiguity of the choice words of an Imagist poem and discern their own meaning.

How does your response to Sassoon’s “On Passing the New Menin Gate” make you reassess your reaction to war memorials in your own country?

Siegfried Sassoon’s poem “On Passing the New Menin Gate” raises a crucial perspective on the deadly reality of war. He highlights how war memorials romanticise the idea of war and do little to memorialise the individuals who fought and died. On my first reading, I was taken back by this poem, it stood out to me amongst the other poems and texts purely for the reason that it subtly hints at the inevitability of human conflict. Lines nine and ten contrasts the First World War as “the world’s worst wound” from the personified Gateway’s pride in displaying the names of the dead. The memorial represents a failure to reflect on the harsh reality and truth of war. In particular it represents the active choice to celebrate the sacrifices of individuals after they have been made, rather than prevent them altogether.  

Peer Review 1

Peer Review of Jessica Aramini’s blog post, which can be found here:

https://uniblogjessicaaramini.wordpress.com/2020/08/10/20th-century-literature-blog-1/

Hey Jess, I really enjoyed reading this blog post. The way in which you established your position on the quote was direct and set the tone for the rest of the post. Further, the way in which you made reference to both poetry and visual art helped in creating a holistic argument that was cohesive and enhanced your viewpoint. My only criticism is that I would have loved to have seen you dive deeper into the aspects of corruption and greed that you identified within your opening paragraph. Otherwise, I found this quite an insightful post that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

  • Cameron

Ekphrastic Poem based on Fred Williams untitled 1980 painting.

“Try to write your own ekphrastic poem with reference to any one of the paintings shown to you during lectures in the first two weeks. Include an image of the painting in your blog.”

Emerald fields that swayed in the breeze

Now pale against the blackened stumps

Of once proud, tall standing native trees

Whose remains drift away, in flaky clumps

And perhaps the permanence of disaster

Preys only on the minds of the damned.

Time, that kind, benevolent master

Spares no thought for all that’s planned

Just as the sun rises high in the east

And sets in the west, a fated ritual.

So too do the flames scorch the tips of the trees

Yet the green flocks return, free from all vitriol

Such is their lot and such is their life

Whoever could resist? Simply none

For as fast as that ashy exodus of strife

Now too has their regeneration begun

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