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Inter-war modernism and technology 1918-1945: machine aesthetics in the work of Ezra Pound, Francis Picabia, D. H. Lawrence, Henry Green and Wyndham Lewis

Burrells, Anna Louise (2010)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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New technologies have long been considered important to the development of modernism – especially theories of efficient form in Vorticism and Italian Futurism This thesis rethinks the relation between modernism and technology in the inter-war years. It uses the work of theorists of technology including Jacques Ellul, Martin Heidegger, Sigfried Gideon and Marshall McLuhan picking up a strand in inter-war modernism highlighting concerns about mechanicity and technologisation as overwhelming and somewhat malign forces. Ezra Pound’s ‘Machine Art’ is influenced by the work of Francis Picabia but demonstrates crucial differences between their conceptions of technology. D. H. Lawrence’s Women in Love is an early example of machine antipathy articulating fears about war and mechanistic mental processes. Henry Green’s factory novel, Living, demonstrates the malign effects of organisational techniques on working-class lives, whilst Wyndham Lewis’s novels Snooty Baronet and The Revenge for Love’s protagonists with prosthetic legs satirise the systematic techniques used in warfare to control individuals, turning them into mechanised grotesques. Finally, Henry Green’s Back enacts Marshall McLuhan’s notion of man as servo-mechanism to the machine. The thesis concludes that some inter-war modernisms display an antipathy towards machine culture which transcends the simple machine, and critiques mechanistic systems which control human bodies and minds.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Gąsiorek, Andrzej (1960-)
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:School of English
Subjects:PR English literature
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:978
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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