Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2019


As an aesthetic movement in British literature, modernism was marked by an unanticipated departure from traditional ways of interacting with the world. Modernism was composed of a series of virtues that emphasized individualism and experimentation as a way of subverting traditional expectations in literature, and the often discouraged stress on the individual sunk only deeper into the armature of modernist thinking with the outbreak of the Great War. World War I laid the grounds for the modernist intelligentsia to shift artistic focus to the self and inner consciousness, deliberately choosing to see the decay and alienation of the individual undergirding the progressive machinery of a capitalist modern society (Rahn, “Modernism”). Structure and certainty gave way to instability and unknowability, and modernists capitalized on this cultural moment to foreground and explicate the interplay between meaninglessness and human consciousness.