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ENGL408: Modern Poetry and Poetics

Unit 5: Other Modernist Movements: Futurism, Vorticism, and Objectivism   In this unit, you will study a sampling of the manifestos behind the poetry of three competing poetic movements from the 1910s to 1930s: Futurism, Vorticism, and Objectivism. This unit will work to define and characterize these movements. Futurism, often associated with Marinetti’s Manifesto of Futurism, was an artistic and social movement that aimed to reject traditional forms of art (i.e., for poetry, rejecting the rules that govern prosody) and focused on imagery as well as precision. Futurist poets highlighted concepts of the future and developed a new language with the play of syntax and alternative substitutions for meter, in the traditional sense. Vorticism, first introduced by Pound’s essay “Vortex” in BLAST, was inspired by Cubism as well as embraced the focus on the mechanical age presented in Futurism. Vorticism focused on abstraction and typographical exploration, and it aimed to capture movement and stillness within an image. In 1930, Objectivism was coined by William Carlos Williams; in consideration of writing, he described this as having “a special eye to its structural aspects, how it has been constructed.…” This concept was expanded on by Louis Zukofsky, who reluctantly pioneered Objectivism at Harriet Monroe’s request to give a name to his associated group of poets. In response to Monroe, Zukofsky said, “No, some of us are writing to say things simply so that they will affect us as new again.” The Objectivist agenda, as defined by Zukofsky, aimed for simplicity and clarity, attempted to create something new, and treated a poem as an object. As you study the material in this unit, consider how these movements compare and contrast to the rhetorical aim of Imagism.

Unit 5 Time Advisory
Completing this unit should take you approximately 17.5 hours. 

☐   Subunit 5.1: 9 hours

☐   Introduction: 5.5 hours

☐   Subunit 5.1.1: 1.25 hours

☐   Subunit 5.1.2: 0.75 hours

☐   Subunit 5.1.3: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 5.2: 4.5 hours

☐    Subunit 5.2.1: 0.25 hours

☐    Subunit 5.2.2: 0.5 hours

☐    Subunit 5.2.3: 3.75 hours

☐   Subunit 5.3: 4 hours

☐    Reading: 3 hours

☐   Web Media: 1 hour

Unit5 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you should be able to: - situate Vorticism, Futurism, and Objectivism in their broader historical context; - identify the most important poetic representatives of Vorticism, Futurism, and Objectivism; and - compare and contrast as well as discuss the formal qualities, uses of imagery and sound, and rhetorical aims of Vorticism, Futurism, and Objectivism that distinguish these movements from Imagism.

5.1 What Is Futurism?   - Reading: Princeton University Press: Christine Poggi’s Inventing Futurism: The Art and Politics of Artificial Optimism: “Chapter 1: Futurist Velocities” Link: Princeton University Press: Christine Poggi’s Inventing Futurism: The Art and Politics of Artificial Optimism: “Chapter 1: Futurist Velocities” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read “Chapter 1: Futurist Velocities,” and take
careful notes on the Futurist movement.  
    
 As you read, consider the following study questions and writing
prompt: How did Futurism differ from Imagism and
19<sup>th</sup>-century Symbolism? What did these movements have in
common? Write a paragraph or two that compares and contrasts the
rhetorical aims of these movements. Consider posting your paragraph
to the [ENGL408 Course Discussion
Board](http://forums.saylor.org/forum/english/ENGL408/), and respond
to other students’ posts.  

 Reading this chapter, answering the questions above, and completing
the writing activity should take approximately 2 hours and 30
minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: The Poetry Foundation: Mina Loy’s “Aphorisms on Futurism,” “Lunar Baedeker,” and “Giovanni Franchi” Link: The Poetry Foundation: Mina Loy’s “Aphorisms on Futurism” (HTML), “Lunar Baedeker” (HTML), and “Giovanni Franchi” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read Mina Loy’s three poems: “Aphorisms on Futurism,” “Lunar Baedeker,” and “Giovanni Franchi.” Also, read the introductory note to “Aphorisms on Futurism” as well as read Jessica Burstein’s article, accessible by clicking on the “Poem Guide” tab for “Lunar Baedeker.”
     
    As you read these poems, consider the following study questions: How do Loy’s poems represent or depart from Futurist poems? How does gender figure in these poems? How might one provide a Feminist interpretation of her poems? Write a paragraph or two to summarize your thoughts. Consider posting your paragraph to the ENGL408 Course Discussion Board, and respond to other students’ posts.

    Studying these poems, reading the article, answering the questions above, and completing the writing activity should take approximately 3 hours.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

5.1.1 Italian Futurism   - Reading: wendtroot.com: “Italian Futurism” Link: wendtroot.com: “Italian Futurism” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this article on Italian Futurism, and take notes in order to compare and contrast Italian Futurism with aspects of other modern poetry movements that have already been discussed. Later on, you may use your notes to also draw comparisons among Futurism, Vorticism, and Objectivism.

 Reading this article and taking notes should take approximately 15
minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: University of Pennsylvania: Filippo Marinetti’s Excerpts from *Manifesto of Futurism* Link: University of Pennsylvania: Filippo Marinetti’s Excerpts from Manifesto of Futurism (HTML)

    Instructions: Read these two excerpts from Filippo Marinetti’s hugely influential 1909 Manifesto of Futurism: “The Joy of Mechanical Force” and “Futurist Manifesto.”
     
    As you read these excerpts, consider the following study questions: Why do you think there was such an emphasis on the future during this era? What are the dominant images in this manifesto? How does it represent modernity? Is the individual person important? Are there any anti-humanist or violent elements in this text? What should a Futurist poet strive for in his or her art? How does Loy’s “Aphorisms on Futurism” compare to Marinetti’s Manifesto of Futurism? What are the most important differences between the two texts? Write a paragraph to summarize your thoughts. Consider posting your paragraph to the ENGL408 Course Discussion Board, and respond to other students’ posts.

    Reading these texts, answering the questions above, and completing the writing activity should take approximately 1 hour.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

5.1.2 Russian Futurism   - Reading: Poets.org: “A Brief Guide to Futurism” and “Biography of Vladimir Mayakovsky” Link: Poets.org: “A Brief Guide to Futurism” (HTML) and “Biography of Vladimir Mayakovsky” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read the guide to Futurism and take notes to learn
about the distinctions between Italian Futurism and Russian
Futurism. Then, read the biography on Vladimir Mayakovsky, one of
the distinctive poets of Russian Futurism. It may be useful to
review your notes on Italian Futurism.  
    
 As you read and review your notes, consider the following study
question: What are the most important differences between Russian
and Italian Futurism?  

 Reading these texts, reviewing your notes, and answering the
question above should take approximately 45 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

5.1.3 Futurism and Fascism   - Reading: History Today: Richard Jensen’s “Futurism and Fascism” Link: History Today: Richard Jensen’s “Futurism and Fascism” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read “Futurism and Fascism” to learn about Futurism’s
political connection.  
    
 As you read, consider the following study questions and writing
prompt: What is the author’s main argument about the relationship
between Futurism and Fascism? Do you find it convincing? Why, or why
not? Using what you know about Italian Futurism from subunit 5.1.1
to support your ideas, write a brief paragraph to analyze this
political and literary connection. Consider posting your paragraph
to the [ENGL408 Course Discussion
Board](http://forums.saylor.org/forum/english/ENGL408/), and respond
to other students’ posts.  

 Reading this article, answering the questions above, and completing
the writing activity should take approximately 1 hour and 30
minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

5.2 What Is Vorticism?   5.2.1 Introduction to Vorticism   - Reading: Vorticism: “Introduction [to Vorticism]” and “Modern Vorticists” Link: Vorticism: “Introduction [to Vorticism]” (HTML) and “Modern Vorticists” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the introduction to Vorticism. Then, read the brief information about modern Vorticists.

 Reading these sections should take approximately 15 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyrights and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.

5.2.2 Pound’s “Vortex”   - Reading: The Poetry Foundation: Ezra Pound’s “Vortex” Link: The Poetry Foundation: Ezra Pound’s “Vortex” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the introductory note as well as Pound’s essay, “Vortex,” which first appeared in BLAST. This reading will help you understand the origins of the poetic movement of Vorticism as well as will explain the rhetorical aims of the movement.
 
As you read, consider the following study question: How does Pound’s explanation of Vorticism relate to other movements like Imagism and Symbolism?
 
Reading this essay and answering the question above should take approximately 30 minutes.

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

5.2.3 Wyndham Lewis and the Vortex Manifesto   - Reading: Vorticism: “Biography of Wyndham Lewis” Link: Vorticism: “Biography of Wyndham Lewis” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this biography of Wyndham Lewis to better understand the artistic connection to Vorticism.
 
As you read, consider the following questions: What inspired Lewis to strike out on his own to form his own movement rather than to simply join one? Note that Vorticism was influenced by Cubism. How might you see this transferred over to poetry?
 
Reading this biography and answering the questions above should take approximately 15 minutes.

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: The Poetry Foundation: Wyndham Lewis’ “Long Live the Vortex!” and “Our Vortex” Link: The Poetry Foundation: Wyndham Lewis’ “Long Live the Vortex!” and “Our Vortex” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read the introductory note as well as excerpts from “Long Live the Vortex!” and “Our Vortex,” pieces published in BLAST as part of Lewis’ manifesto on Vorticism. Pay particular attention to the early stages of the evolution of the Vorticist movement and its relationship to World War I. 
     
    Reading these texts should take approximately 30 minutes.

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  • Reading: Brown University and The University of Tulsa’s The Modernist Journals Project: BLAST (No. 1, Ed. Wyndham Lewis) Link: Brown University and The University of Tulsa’s The Modernist Journals Project: BLAST (No. 1, Ed. Wyndham Lewis)(HTML)

    Instructions: Using the scrolling tool on the left-hand side of the webpage, go to page 9 (“Long Live the Vortex!”), and read the manifesto in its entirety (pp. 9–45). Once you have read the manifesto, explore the magazine’s other pages, paying attention to both the language of the poems and the visual aesthetic of this publication.
     
    As you read, consider the following study questions: What are the most important claims this manifesto makes about art? How are these different from the creed of the Symbolists and the Imagists? What do you think was so revolutionary about BLAST?
     
    Reading the text, answering the questions above, and exploring poems in BLAST should take approximately 3 hours.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

5.3 What Is Objectivism?   - Reading: The Poetry Foundation: Peter O’Leary’s “The Energies of Words” Link: The Poetry Foundation: Peter O’Leary’s “The Energies of Words” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read “The Energies of Words” to learn about *Poetry
Magazine’s* legendary 1931 Objectivist issue and the origins as well
as characteristics of the movement.  

 Reading this article should take approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
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  • Reading: The Poetry Foundation: Poetry, February 1931 Link: The Poetry Foundation: Poetry, February 1931 (HTML)

    Instructions: Read the poems in the 1931 magazine issue, Poetry, dedicated to the Objectivists. Make sure to study Louis Zukofsky's poem “‘A’: Seventh Movement: ‘There Are Different Techniques,’” and list the Objectivist elements that this poem illustrates.
     
    Reading this issue of Poetry, studying Zukofsky’s poem, and identifying various Objectivist elements should take approximately 2 hours.

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  • Web Media: University of Pennsylvania’s PennSound: “Discussion at the Kelly Writers House, Moderated by Bob Perelman” Link: University of Pennsylvania’s PennSound: “Discussion at the Kelly Writers House, Moderated by Bob Perelman” (Mp3)
     
    Instructions: Select the links to each audio clip for: “Introduction to the Objectivists,” “On Determining Poetic Connections between Reznikoff, Zukofsky, and Oppen,” and “On Jewishness and the Objectivists.” Listen to these audio clips, and then define Objectivist poetry in your own words.
     
    Listening to these recordings, pausing to take notes, and defining Objectivist poetry should take approximately 1 hour.

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Unit 5 Assessment   - Assessment: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 5 Assessment” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 5 Assessment” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Consider the essay prompts for this assessment, and craft an essay founded on your readings from this unit. After writing your essay, use the “Rubric for Effectively Written College-Level Essays” (PDF) to self-evaluate your writing.
 
Tips and Suggestions: If you have an ePortfolio account, then it may be beneficial to upload or link to your essay from the Work Samples section of your profile. In combination with the Study Groups function or the ENGL408 Discussion Forum, using your ePortfolio profile may be a good way to receive peer feedback on your written work. If you do not yet have an ePortfolio account, you can create one here, free of charge.
 
Completing this assessment should take approximately 3 hours.