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Challenging Modernity: Dada between Modern and Postmodern

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Challenging Modernity

Dada between Modern and Postmodern

Mark A. Pegrum

288 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-57181-130-1 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (April 2000)

Hb   Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


When Dada burst onto the European stage in 1916, it shocked and scandalized the public of its day with art forms, ideas, and attitudes which were so revolutionary that it is only in recent decades that they have begun to find recognition within the broad cultural movement known as postmodernism. In fact, many postmodern artistic and intellectual tendencies can be seen to have descended via an underground tradition from the experiments of the Dadaists earlier this century. Yet, the existence of this close link has been largely neglected by scholars.

This book, for the first time, examines in depth the link between modernism and postmodernism and demonstrates the extensive similarities, as well as the few crucial differences between the ideas and art of the Dadaists on the one hand, and those of contemporary postmodern thinkers and artists on the other. Although they did not have access to postmodern terminology, it is clear that many Dadaists were essentially attempting to escape constrictive Enlightenment and modern(ist)structures in order to create a proto-postmodern space of différence, otherness, and flux. Their successes, failures, and compromises in this respect are very illustrative for anyone interested in the progress of our own intellectual and artistic culture in its wavering between modern and postmodern. This book offers a much-needed historical perspective and solid basis for the on-going debate on postmodernism.

Mark A. Pegrum teaches in the German and French Departments of The University of Western Australia.

Subject: General Cultural Studies
Area: Germany




Chapter 1. Post Modernism: Where We Are and How We Got Here

  • The Death of God and the Beginning of Modernity
  • The Postmodern Critique of Modernity
  • Putting Postmodernism into Perspective
  • Modernism and Postmodernism as Artistic Responses

Chapter 2. Dada and the Trappings of Modernity

  • The Search for Alternative Paradigms
  • The Natural Order
  • The Transcendence of Art
  • Ball and Catholicism
  • Political Engagement
  • Freud
  • Modern Solutions to Modern Problems

Chapter 3. A Bridge to the Postmodern

  • Dada and the Revolt Against Pre-Modern Paradigms
  • Dada and the Revolt Against Modern Paradigms
  • Dada Against Western Philosophy
  • Dada Against Reason
  • Dada Against Humanism
  • Dada Against History
  • Dada Against Utopias
  • Dada Against Marx
  • Dada Against Freud
  • Dada Against Science and Technology
  • Dada: For and Against Chaos
  • Dada: A Postmodern Attitude?
  • Dada, Postmodernism, and The Negative Speed

 Chapter 4. Voicing the Other

  • ‘Primitivism’
  • Childhood and the Fabulous
  • Madness
  • The Feminine
  • Transgender
  • Dada as Other

Chapter 5. Celebrating Life

  • Being Serious
  • The Nature of the Game: A Closer Examination
  • The Look
  • Carnival
  • The Subversion of Binarisms
  • Dada as Incomprehensible
  • Celebrating Life: Dada, Postmodernism, and The Positive Speed

Chapter 6. Visions of Change

  • The Role of Intellectuals
  • The Potential for Change

Chapter 7. (Anti)Art

  • The Desacralisation of Art
  • Irony
  • Defrocking the Artist
  • The Art Market
  • High versus Low Culture
  • Ephemerality
  • Art versus Life
  • The Legacy of Rebellion

Chapter 8. Working in the Gap Between Art and Life

  • Revitalising the Margins
  • Juxtaposition
  • Chance
  • Simultaneity
  • The Absurd
  • Word Games
  • Sound and Visual Poetry
  • The Assault on Closure
  • Dada: A Postmodern Art?

Chapter 9. Dada in Relation to its Artistic Environment

  • Cubism
  • Futurism
  • Expressionism
  • Surrealism

Chapter 10. Perspectives on a (Post)Modern Future

  • Is Postmodernism Impractical?
  • Is Postmodernism Still Modern After All?
  • Dada: Caught Between Modern and Postmodern
  • Learning from Dada


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