Latham and Sherry--An Attempt to Understand (1 of 8)

Sherry and Latham both operate on known ideas surrounding "modernism." While Dr. Latham does state that "there is no such thing as modernism--no singular definition" (Latham 1), he does give a great way of understanding what contributed to this great cacauphony of different styles, ideas, and forms. Meanwhile, Sherry acknowledges the controversy of the word "modernism" itself as he gives a historical framework from which readers can attempt to draw conclusions about modernism.

One thing that I noticed in both texts was the idea that modernists were focused on the present, but not in a urgent or naive way. Instead, the two scholars give these ideas of a long present. Sherry describes this view as "a vision of days winding away into a future that is at once infinite and diminishing, an eternity that is both meaningless and menacing" (7). It seems as though the present is both overwhelmingly arriving constantly, but it is always slipping away. This view of time fits well with many of the things going on historically--everything was constantly shifting from war to peace, from prosperity to depression. Not only were there many events going on, but technology was rapidly shifting and would continue to do so, even until now.

This push and pull of time passing by is kind of mirrored in modernist writing styles. Dr. Latham wrote a lot about the importance of literary tradition in modernist literature. The writers were not tied to it in any particular force, but tradition was a way for them to push some boundaries--almost like a visual/textual representation of how time was not stopping but felt so long. Traditional forms from all over were used, but they were adjusted to fit the writers' needs or goals.