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Theorizing the Avant-Garde
Modernism, Expressionism, and the Problem of Postmodernity
by Richard Murphy Anthony J. Cascardi Richard A. Macksey

RRP €82.10

Theorizing the Avant-Garde
Modernism, Expressionism, and the Problem of Postmodernity
by Author Name Richard Murphy, Anthony J. Cascardi, Richard A. Macksey

Book details for title
List Price:82.10
Format: Hardback, 216 x 138 x 22mm, 336pp
Publication date: 22 Apr 1999
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN-13: 9780521632911


In Modernism, Expressionism and Theories of the Avant Garde, Richard Murphy mobilises theories of the postmodern to challenge our understanding of the avant-garde. He assesses the importance of the avant-garde for contemporary culture and for the debates among theorists of postmodernism such as Jameson, Eagleton, Lyotard and Habermas. Murphy reconsiders the classic formulation of the avant-garde in Lukacs and Bloch, especially their discussion of aesthetic autonomy, and investigates the relationship between art and politics via a discussion of Marcuse, Adorno and Benjamin. Combining close textual readings of a wide range of films as well as works of literature, it draws on a rich array of critical theories, such as those of Bakhtin, Todorov, MacCabe, Belsey and Raymond Williams. This interdisciplinary project will appeal to all those interested in modernist and avant-garde movements of the early twentieth century, and provides a critical rethinking of the present-day controversy regarding postmodernity.


"...original and fascinating..." Journal of English and Germanic Philology "Murphy's book nevertheless makes an entirely persuasive and superbly documented case for the continuing impact of the historical avant-garde on the culture of postmodernity." College Literature


1. Theories of the avant-garde; 2. Revisions of Burger's theory; 3. Re-writing the discursive world: revolution and the expressionist avant-garde; 4. Counter-discourses of the avant-garde: Jameson, Bakhtin and the problem of realism; 5. Doblin and the avant-garde poetics of expressionist prose; 6. Benn: modernity and the double bind of rationality; 7. Bakhtin and double voiced discourse: Doblin's 'The Murder of a Buttercup' and the double bind; 8. The poetics of hysteria: expressionist drama and the melodramatic imagination; 9. Kafka's photograph of the imaginary: dialogical interplay between realism and the fantastic (the metamorphosis); 10. Weimar silent film and expressionism: representational instability and oppositional discourse in The Cabinet of Dr Caligari; 11. Framing the interpretation: the frame-narrative and the conflict of discourses; 12. Towards a poetic of postmodernism: simulation, the sublime and the expressionist avant-garde; 13. Lyotard's postmodern sublime and Habermas's 'enlightenment project of modernity': modernism, mass culture and the avant-garde; Bibliography.

Additional Information

  • Illustrations: bibliography