Rationalism in Architecture: 18th and 20th Century

Rationalism began as a 17th century ideology that led to the Enlightenment, a period in history where reason was the primary instrument for justifying and understanding the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of things and circumstances. The Enlightenment was a time where concrete evidence through scientific research flourished and Rationalism influenced all field of endeavors and even simple daily tasks.[1] In layman terms, to be rational is to be understandable, measurable or definite. Using this as premise, Rationalism in architecture therefore pertains to accuracy in designing and building the height, breadth or depth of a structure. Architectural Rationalism was a solid evidence of the Enlightenment influence in the field of architecture. It continues to persist in the modern world as an independent art movement though much of the modern Rationalist designs have little resemblance to Enlightenment architecture.

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Henceforth, this essay attempts to contextualize Rationalism by differentiating its two variants: 18th century Rationalism and the recent 20th century development. The similarities and differences of their respective designs and, if possible, functions are noted to give us an idea on how Rationalism has evolved as an architectural ideology. The essay also includes discussions on sub-movements, their pioneers and their trademarks.
18th Century Rationalism
The Enlightenment Architectural Rationalism was focused on being symmetrical, having accurate measurements of classic shapes, and functionality. It clearly reflected the spirit of the times where science, mathematics and logic were at the peak of their influence.
Neoclassicism was a widespread movement under the Rationalist wing. It was established in reaction to the flamboyant and seemingly excessive Baroque and Rococo styles. During the neoclassicist boom, many artworks and structural designs of the classical Graeco-Roman era were recalled together with the architectural works of Italian Andrea Palladio.[2] The movement was named ‘neoclassical,’ as opposed to pure classicism, as not every classical design was applied therein. Neoclassicists only selected from the wide array of designs those feasible to society. Neoclassicist designs were characterized as follows: symmetry, columns that functioned as support, minimalistic design composed of basic geometric shapes, and an overlaid triangular gable commonly known as pediment. The symmetry, functionality, and geometrical aspects of the neoclassicist movement were defining characteristics of the Rationalist ideology.[3]
The Pediment[4] A Column[5]
Existing in the 16th century towards the culmination of the Renaissance period, Andrea Palladio was the first known architect to revive and apply the classical designs of Graeco-Roman society in many villas, palaces and basilicas. His architecture became an essential foundation of Enlightenment Architecture. As a dedicated follower of Vitruvius and his timeless principle of ‘firmitas, utilitas, venustas,’ Palladio carefully ensured that his structural designs were durable, useful, and attractive as stipulated by Vitruvius in his ten-volume masterpiece ‘De Architectura.’ Palladio was also particular about proportions and putting a purpose on every structural component.[6] For instance, a portico or terrace must be utilized in such a way that the surrounding scenery was seen in its full glory. He wanted geographical attributes of the estate to match with the house’s structural design. The palazzos, villas and basilicas he designed displayed the intermingling values of beauty and the social environment and position of their respective owners. An urban palazzo was different from a provincial palazzo; likewise, an agricultural villa was different from a residential villa. Palladio designed structures according to their context.[7]
Palladio had contributed several design innovations in public buildings and churches. Most Palladian works were made of affordable materials, usually stucco, traditionally made with lime, sand and water, to cover and bind bricks. His urban structures for prestigious Venetian owners had high classical porticos with pediments that extended as far as the second floor and were supported by giant colonnades. These porticos were raised above ground level and on the same level as the rest of the ground floor. This raised floor called ‘piano nobile,’ was reused in later variations of neoclassical architecture. Palazzo Chiericati in the city of Vicenza was a fine example of this urban structure.[8]
Palazzo Chiericati (1550-1557)[9]
Rural villas were rather different. Instead of the piano nobile, there was an elevated podium bordered by lower service wings, connected with an elegant curving flight of stairs. The owner maintained residence at the elevated portion. Villa Foscari (also La Malcontenta) was among the mid-16th century designs of Palladio that employed this renowned building format.
Villa Foscari (1559)[10]
The 1570 publishing of Palladio’s work ‘Quattro Libri dell’Architettura’ (The Four Books of Architecture), stretched his influence far beyond his home country Italy. Palladio’s architectural drawings and discussions contained in the book set the stage for neoclassicist expansion in the key European countries of France, Britain, Ireland, Spain and Germany.[11] Even more remarkable was his influence in colonial and post-colonial America, where his designs were replicated in the houses of well-known families, state buildings and even the private abode of Thomas Jefferson, the freedom President.[12] Along with Palladio’s treatise, the unearthing and discovery of Pompeii and Herculaneum, Roman towns destroyed by volcanic eruption during the classical period, was thought to inspire the interior designs of 18th century European houses and edifices.[13]
The Ruins of Pompeii[14] Interior View of a Herculaneum House[15]
In Europe, neoclassicist architecture developed at different paces. Some sources estimated that the movement reached its peak in France with Étienne-Louis Boullée and Claude Nicolas Ledoux. The two architects followed principles of rationality into their Graeco-Roman inspired designs. Boullée was known for fusing geometry with the standard classics. This original neoclassical deviation might have been influenced by his work as an educator and philosopher at ”École Nationale Des Ponts et Chaussées.’ Like most neoclassicists, his designs were minimalistic, devoid of ornamentation, bold enough to repeat certain structural components, especially if they were functional (i.e. columns), and sought to emphasize the purpose of the structure and its parts. Boullée also proposed a cenotaph, an approximately 500-foot sphere rooted on a round foundation, for the English scientist Isaac Newton. This was not feasible to build but as a professional engraving, the style gained prominence. Boullée’s works were later revived by 20th century Rationalists and more popularly by renowned Modernist architect, Aldo Rossi. Contemporary architects found his designs unique and very inventive – although some would consider them ‘illusions of grandeur.’ The Hôtel Alexandre in Paris, known for its flanking courtyard doors and Corinthian columns, was one of Boullée’s surviving works.[16]
Cenotaph for Newton (1784)[17] Hôtel Alexandre (1763-66)[18]Like his compatriot, Ledoux was very idealistic in his architecture, always wanting to ‘build with a purpose.’ For this he and Boullée were branded ‘Utopians.'[19] Ledoux designed many theatres, hotels, residential homes, and buildings, supplied with rotundas, columns and domes from the Graeco-Roman period. His known architectural innovation was the ‘architectonic order,’ best exhibited through his design on the Royal Saltworks at Arc-et-Senans. He was appointed Royal Architect for the express purpose of building a structural design for efficiently extracting salt. The Royal Saltworks became a significant example of 18th century Architectural Rationalism for its extensive use of geometry and logical arrangement of shapes to facilitate the extraction and transportation processes. Another design was drawn after the first was disapproved.[20]
Facade of the Royal Saltworks, France[21]
Aerial View of Ledoux’ Second Design (1804)[22]
There were many other prominent figures under the neoclassical movement but few were as Utopian as the works of Boullée and Ledoux. French writer-teacher-architect Jean-Nicolas-Louis Durand influenced several German Rationalists by adding principles of economy and convenience to the existing architectural Utopia.[23] The later renditions of neoclassicism in Britain, America, and Spain disregarded the attachment to symmetry and geometry that Palladio himself and the French neoclassicists were very particular. However, they did retain much of the functionality aspect. For example, neo-Palladian British architects William Kent and Indigo Jones invented the flanking wings to give more space in the house interior.[24] This concern for utilizing space was still an archetype of 18th century Rationalism.
20th Century Rationalism
20th century Rationalist architecture was interchangeably called Neo-Rationalist. Although the designs were different from 18th century rationalism, neo-Rationalists continued to practice important principles of Rationalist Architecture. The simplistic form and ornamentation was still retained; the functionality aspect became known as ‘theme.’ In fact, as many historians claimed, neo-Rationalism was an evolution of 18th century Enlightenment Architecture.[25] The need to justify architectural works remained strong as it had then. The Enlightenment brought about the Industrial Revolution around 18th-19th centuries. The effects lasted and were carried over to the 20th century, where industrialization became a fad. Economic advancement was no longer associated with brick and wood but with new elements like steel, iron and glass. As industrialization reached its peak in the 20th century, the growing importance of machinery led to the development of an ‘industrial architecture,’ composed of those new elements.[26]
Modernism was the dominant rationalist movement of the 1900s. It basically aimed to employ new materials suited to the spirit of industrialization and free architects from the bondage of styles, which curtailed individual touches. The works of early Modernists Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius in Germany and Frenchman Le Corbusier were mostly products of socio-political revolutions. Following World War I, the German Modernist ventured into new structures that ‘meet social needs.'[27] The Bauhaus design school resulted from this venture. Bauhaus became identified as the ‘International Style,’ adopted by many Modern structural designs in various countries.[28] The following are famous examples of Bauhaus architecture:
The UN New York Base by Le Corbusier[29] The Gropius Residence in Lincoln[30]
The International Style was characterized by rational principles of minimalism and functional design and structure. Neoclassical pediments, columns and flanking wings were replaced by rectangular shapes of concrete cement, steel, and other new elements. There were hardly traces of particular cultures or social context and a neutral architecture that was universally applicable prevailed.[31]
Modernists like Frank Lloyd Wright tried to balance nature and structural designs.[32] Later, Postmodernist movements emerged to deconstruct the universality of Bauhaus and infuse ‘local identities’ into modern architecture so it can connect with people’s sentiments.[33] Aldo Rossi, Italian theorist-architect-designer-artist, was among the celebrated Postmodernists. His valuable contribution to urban architecture was building contemporary structures without neglecting the historical value of the city or site where it would be built. He stressed the social significance of monuments and cemeteries and also advocated that structures be strong enough for succeeding generations to witness.[34] San Cataldo Cemetery expanded by Rossi (1971)[35] Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht by Rossi (1990-1994)[36]
18th and 20th century Architectural Rationalists are linked by the ancient principles of ‘utilitas, firmitas, venustas.’ Their respective movements were generally non-ornamental and useful in structure, design and theme. In the area of symmetry, the use of geometrical shapes, and projecting cultural and individual sentiments, the two Rationalist regimes differ. 18th century Rationalists were unified in advocating truth and beauty in architecture while neo-Rationalists had individual contradictions.[37] Nevertheless, both strands justified Architecture’s major roles in society and in people’s lives.
[1] Hackett Lewis. (1992) ‘The age if enlightenment,’ History World International at http://history-world.org/age_of_enlightenment.htm
[2] Steve Fallon & Nicola Williams. (2008) Paris: city guide, United Kingdom, Lonely Planet Publications, p. 48.
[4] University of Pittsburgh at http://www.pitt.edu/~medart/menuglossary/pediment.htm
[5] Old House Web at http://www.oldhouseweb.com/architecture-and-design/greek-revival-1820-1850.shtml
[6] Bernd Evers, Christof Thoenes & Kunstbibliothek. (2003) Architectural theory: from the renaissance to the present, Germany, TASCHEN pp. 6-7.
[7] Sam Smiles& Stephanie Moser. (2005) Envisioning the past: archaeology and the image, Maine, Blackwell Publishing pp. 98-114.
[8] Douglas Lewis, Andrea Palladio & International Exhibitions Foundation. (1981) The drawings of Andrea Palladio, Texas, The Foundation, pp. 158-163.
[9] Essential Architecture at http://www.essential-architecture.com/STYLE/STY-E14.htm
[11] Caroline Clifton-Mogg. (1991) The neoclassical source book, New York, Rizzoli, pp. 88-175.
[12] David Watkin. (2005) A history of western architecture, London, Laurence King pp. 114-513.
[13] H. Keethe Beebe. (1975) ‘Domestic Architecture and the New Testament,’ The Biblical Archaeologists, volume 38, number 3/4, pp. 89-104.
[14] Virtual Tourist at http://cache.virtualtourist.com/1898061-Pompeii-Pompeii.jpg
[16] Helen Rosenau. (1976) Boullée & visionary architecture, New York, Harmony Books pp. 1-27.
[19] Barry Bergdoll. (2000) European architecture, 1750-1890, New York, Oxford University Press p. 97.
[20] Elizabeth Basye Gilmore Holt. (1966) From the classicists to the impressionists: art and architecture in the nineteenth century, Connecticut, Yale University Press pp. 227-311.
[21] United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/203
[23] Joy Monice Malnar & Frank Vodvarka. (2004) Sensor design, Minneapolis, The University of Minnesota Press p. 8.
[24] Inigo Jones, William Kent. (1727) The designs of Inigo Jones: consisting of plans and elevations for publick, England, W. Kent pp. 1-73.
[25] Christopher Crouch. (2000) Modernism in Art Design and Architecture, New York, St. Martin’s Press pp. 1-10.
[26] ‘Industrial architecture,’ Encyclopædia Britannica Online at http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/286910/industrial-architecture
[27] Richard J. Evans. (2003) The coming of the third reich, New York, The Penguin Press, pp. 122-123.
[28] Henry Russell Hitchcock & Philip Johnson. (1997)The International Style, New York, W. W. Norton & Company, pp. 1-5.
[29] ‘International Style’ at http://architecture.about.com/od/20thcenturytrends/ig/Modern-Architecture/International-Style.htm
[30] The Digital Archive of American Architecture at http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/fnart/fa267/gropius.html
[31] Hazel Conway & Rowan Roenisch. (1994) Understanding architecture: an introduction to architecture and architectural history, London, Routledge pp. 22-24.
[32] Kathleen Karlsen. ‘Saving Civilization Through Architecture – Rationalism and the International Style,’ at http://ezinearticles.com/?Saving-Civilization-Through-Architecture—Rationalism-and-the-International-Style&id=888138
[33] Hazel Conway & Rowan Roenisch. (1994) Understanding architecture: an introduction to architecture and architectural history, London, Routledge pp. 22.
[34] Terry Kirk. (2005) The architecture of modern Italy, volume 2: visions of utopia 1900-present, New York, Princeton University Press pp. 208-214.
[35] Cornell University Blog at http://blogs.cornell.edu/tim/2008/09/21/cities-sites/
[36] Brian Rose at http://www.brianrose.com/portfolio/bonnefanten/bonnefan.htm
[37] Sarah Williams Goldhagen. ‘Ultraviolet: Alvar Aalto’s embodied Rationalism,’ Harvard Design Magazine at http://www.sarahwilliamsgoldhagen.com/articles/Ultraviolet.pdf  

How Music Changed In The 20th Century Music Essay

The Romantic Period (1800-1910) saw music evolve from the formats, genres and musical ideas established in preceding periods such and went further in expressing different forms of art with music. However, the 20th century saw the rise of great composers such as Arnold Schoenberg, Charles Ives and Igor Stravinsky whose contributions to the world of music brought dynamic changes. In the twentieth century music was no longer constrained to opera-houses, clubs, and concerts and this freedom brought experimentation with new styles of music that went against the conventional music practices.
Discussed below are the contributions of the aforementioned composers and their influence on 20th century music.
Arnold Schoenberg
Schoenberg, an Austrian born composer is widely celebrated for the developments that he brought into the musical arena. His music from his early years was filled with rich harmonies that evolved from the innovative style of Richard Wagner’s operas. He is also credited with extending the works of Brahms. By 1913, Schoenberg was exploring a new musical language. This had started in 1908, with his string quartet whose first two movements were written in a complex tonal style -the central organizing principle of western music in that period. However, with the third and fourth movements Schoenberg bid goodbye the world of tonality. As such, he pioneered an innovation in atonality which became the most polemical characteristic of twentieth century art music. In the 1920s, he developed the twelve tone technique (dodecaphony) which is a widely influential compositional method of manipulating an ordered series of all twelve notes in the chromatic scale. He also coined the term “developing variation” and was the first composer to discover new ways of developing motifs without resorting to tonality. With this discovery, he worked at enabling the texture of his music become simpler and much clearer. The twelve-tone technique in effect provided control over the melodic and harmonic aspects of a composition. Schoenberg’s dodecaphony eventually became one of the integral and polemical issues among European and American musicians until late twentieth century. To date, composers have been extending his legacy in increasingly radical directions.

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Charles Ives
Ives, one of the first American composers of international renown combined the American church music with European art music and was among the first composers to engage in a systematic program of experimental music with musical techniques like polytonality, polyrhythm, and tone clusters among others. He was an accomplished pianist and many of his publications had piano parts that were similar to modern movements in Europe, including bitonality and pantonality. He is best known for his orchestral music and he composed two string quartets and other works of chamber music. Ives’ music possessed a number of unique features. He applied unconventional approaches to rhythm and harmony away from the salon styles of the nineteenth century that were dependent on European models. He wanted a music that reflected his view of America: rugged, individualistic, and unafraid to experiment. His music contains a mixture of hard-hedged dissonance and quotations from his favorite hymn tunes. Ives’ compositional career came to an end in 1918 when he succumbed to health complications. Over the duration of time that he had been actively composing, he managed to create a body of work that was unique and ahead of his time. His works were not celebrated as much during his early days but later on in his life his music began to be taken seriously. In 1947, he received the Pulitzer Prize for his Third Symphony and since then, his works became an integral part of the classical repertoire and he has been recognized for being a fine composer.
Igor Stravinsky
This Russian-born composer, pianist and conductor is widely acclaimed as one of the most important and influential composers of 20th century music. Stravinsky’s compositional career was notable for its stylistic diversity. Unlike Arnold Schoenberg who abandoned the world of tonality, he sought to retain tonality by advancing it to its very limits. Stravinsky first achieved international renown with three ballets: The Firebird, Petrushka and The Rite of Spring. The Rite was based upon harsh dissonance, motor rhythms and ambiguous harmonies that drove tonality to its brink. It transformed the way in which subsequent composers thought about rhythmic structure, and was responsible for his enduring reputation as a musical revolutionary, extending the boundaries of musical design. After this Russian phase, Stravinsky joined the Orthodox Church in 1926 and turned to neoclassicism. During this period, his works made use of traditional music forms (concerto grosso, fugue, and symphony) and were all striking in their austerity and experimental tonality. For this neoclassical style, he abandoned the large orchestras required by the ballets and only used wind instruments, the piano and choral and chamber works. In 1952, Stravinsky began using serial compositional styles, including dodecaphony, the twelve-tone technique originally designed by Schoenberg.
Stravinsky earned the title of one of music’s truly epochal innovators because of his technical innovations and the ‘changing face’ of his compositional style while still maintaining identity. He drew his inspiration from different cultures, languages and literatures therefore his influence on composers to date is considerable. Apart from his distinctive use of rhythm, he continued to compose pieces which elaborated on individual pieces by earlier composers. He was also a wonderful conductor of his own and other people’s music and led hundreds of concerts worldwide.
In different ways, Igor Stravinsky rewrote music history. His brilliant, demanding orchestral scores carved the path for the superstar conductor. Years later, his works continue to play a dominant role in the programming of symphony orchestras, ballet companies and increasingly, major opera houses.
Each of the composers discussed above have in their own way greatly influenced the musical circles. Their works and innovation continue to inspire new talent and form the basis of research and expansion of the breath of knowledge as pertains to composition

Racial Inequalities of the 20th Century

The life of three people who were in the same place at the same time is a story of those who wanted to make a change in the world. A story of people who thought differently than others and sought to voice their thoughts to the entire world; so that a much needed change could take place. Langston Hughes according to Biography.com was, “Born on February 1, 1902, in Joplin, Missouri. He published his first poem in 1921. He attended Columbia University. He went on to write countless works of poetry, prose and plays. He died on May 22, 1967” (Langston Hughes Biography 1). He was a very educated man and this allowed his literature to not only appeal to African Americans but also be recognized by other highly educated white people. Zora Neale Hurston according to Biography.com was, “Born in Alabama in 1891, Zora Neale Hurston became a fixture of New York City’s Harlem Renaissance.Hurston died in poverty in 1960, before a revival of interest led to posthumous recognition of her accomplishments” (Zora Neale Hurston Biography 1). James Baldwin according to Biography.com was, “Writer and playwright James Baldwin was born August 2, 1924, in Harlem, New York. One of the 20th century’s greatest writers, Baldwin broke new literary ground with the exploration of racial and social issues in his many works. He was especially known for his essays on the black experience in America”(James Baldwin Biography 1). As they were connected by  the guiding light of the Harlem Renaissance that guided the ways for many people to share their ideas a find a way to combat the injustices that filled the world at the time. Injustices such as discrimination and unfair treatment that affected every African American at this time. According to History. com the Harlem Renaissance was, “The development of the Harlem neighborhood in New York City as a black cultural mecca in the early 20th Century and the subsequent social and artistic explosion that resulted. Lasting roughly from the 1910s through the mid-1930s, the period is considered a golden age in African American culture, manifesting in literature, music, stage performance and art” (Harlem Renaissance 1). One of the foundations of this movement is the great migration of African Americans into urban areas. According to History.com the Great Migration, “The northern Manhattan neighborhood of Harlem was meant to be an upper-class white neighborhood, but rapid overdevelopment led to empty buildings and desperate landlords seeking to fill them. In the early 1900s, a few middle-class black families moved to Harlem, and other black families followed.”(Harlem Renaissance, 1-2). As many of these African Americans moved in to these places they received treatment that is not equitable and discriminatory. This led to many of the inhabitants to start to voice their opinions through means that were provided to them or that interested them; for example literature.

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African American literature addresses racial inequalities, it is of one of the best ways of portraying the struggles that many African Americans faced. In the 20th century three particular writers wrote about racial disparities. The writer James Baldwin was an activist for African American rights. Through his writing, one can see and understand why he fought for what he did. Zora Neale Hurston wrote about racial struggles that many people were facing at the time. Langston Hughes wrote to end the inequalities that many African Americans including himself were facing. They did this through the themes of place, relationship, and change in America. These writers helped to push America into the Civil Rights Movement that took place in the 1950s to 1970s.

 Langston Hughes used his poetry to fight for a change in America. In his poem “I, too, Sing America” he is protesting how African are treated at this time in the United States. In this poem he really tried to convey his belief that even though he was a Black he was still American and deserved the same rights and privileges as anyone else. Before one reads this poem they must know that according to Biography.com, when he first began to write poetry his teacher introduced him to the poetry of Walt Whitman who he would later say was one of his primary influencers ( Langston Hughes Biography 4). In the poem it says, “I, too, sing America”(Hughes, 1), this is a reference to the poem by Walt Whitman I Hear America Singing which talks about the culture of America but does not include African Americans. In the first line of Hughes poem he states that African Americans are also a part of America’s culture. In the second stanza it he says, “I am the darker brother. They send me to eat in the kitchen, When company comes, But I laugh, And eat well, And grow strong” (Hughes 2-7). In this stanza he identifies himself as African American and when he says that he is sent to the kitchen when company comes he is talking about segregation and inequality. In the fourth stanza he says, “Tomorrow, I’ll be at the table. When company comes. Nobody’ll dare – Say to me, “Eat in the kitchen,” Then.” (Hughes 8-14). In this stanza he states that in future a day will come when African Americans are treated as equals. In this day and age nobody will be able to tell him to leave they will be to ashamed. In the final stanza he says, “I, too, am America” (Hughes 18). This points out his main goal which is that African Americans are part of America’s culture. This is the change in America that Hughes foresaw and deeply wanted to be true.

 Langston Hughes shows the theme of relationship in his essay The The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain. This poem shows relationship because it is his thoughts about the things that his young poet which he knew was saying. In this essay he started off by saying,

One of the most promising of the young Negro poets said to me once, “I want to be a poet not a Negro poet,” meaning, I believe, “I want to write like a white poet”; meaning subconsciously, “I would like to be a white poet” (Hughes 1-5). He started his essay off with from a young poet which he doesn’t name but it is believed to be Hughes contemporary Countee Cullen. In the poem Cullen is aspiring to be a white; someone he sees as having merit. Hughes is astonished by this and Cullens  denial of his skin, color, and heritage.In Hughes’s first paragraph he shows that there are times that African American artists strive for standardization and whiteness, this is the racial mountain shown in the title of the piece, and many African-American artists fight to climb it. The essay also says,

His family is of what I suppose one would call the Negro middle class: people who are by no means rich yet never uncomfortable nor hungry—smug, contented, respectable folk, members of the Baptist church. The father goes to work every morning. He is a chief steward at a large white club. The mother sometimes does fancy sewing or supervises parties for the rich families of the town. The children go to a mixed school. In the home they read white papers and magazines. And the mother often says “Don’t be like niggers” when the children are bad. A frequent phrase from the father is, “Look how well a white man does things.” (Hughes, 10-17)

In these lines Hughes speaks of an artist like himself that is trying to become like a white poet because of the way that was raised. The young poets parents both had jobs working for rich white people and he came from a middle class family. Lastly, he went to a unsegregated school, one of the only ones in the area he was raised. These things all led to his rejection of his on heritage. Hughes has pity on him because he was never taught the beauty of his own heritage, only the value of whiteness.  He then says, “So I am ashamed for the black poet who says, “I want to be a poet, not a Negro poet,” as though his own racial world were not as interesting as any other world. I am ashamed, too, for the colored artist who runs from the painting of Negro faces …” (Hughes 15-17). In these lines he shows that he thinks that many of the issues that face America are racial issues and if one writes otherwise it is against one’s own heritage.               Langston Hughes uses the theme of place in his poem Harlem. In this poem he talks about the city which many of his ideas grew out of. The poem starts off by saying, “What happens to a dream deferred”(Hughes 1)? The way Hughes says “dream deferred” instead of “deferred dream” gives us the realization that we are not in a rational world, we are actually in the world of poetry, truth telling, and soul-searching.When he  beginning this poem with a question, the reader is made to start thinking. “Does it dry up”(Hughes 2). Things that dry up become withered and small. “Or fester like a sore”(Hughes 4). Hughes is saying that a  dream deferred won’t go away or heal. “Does it stink like rotten meat”(Hughes 6)? When something stinks it means that it is still there and has not gone away. This is like the dream deferred, it is only being ignored not deleted.“Or crust and sugar over – like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags –like a heavy load. Or does it explode”(Hughes 7-11)? It now tells us that this dream deferred started as something sweet or sugar coated. An example of this is a Black person wanting an end to segregation. This dream may be sweet but it might not be what it seems. By being led to believe such a fallacy, an African American may believe his or her present situation is better than the situation he or she dreams of, which would make him or her see the dream as sugar coated. The final comparisons are a delayed dream to a something that is too heavy to even bear and something that explodes. This final comparison of a delayed dream to an explosion is very powerful.By comparing a delayed dream to an explosion, he implies that if a dream is halted from being fulfilled and caused to bubble up and grow until the dreamer builds up enough energy that he/she explodes in a burst of energy to fulfill the dream, just as we can see with the starting of the Civil Rights Movement.

    James Baldwin shows the theme of place in his short story Sonny’s Blues. This story shows how life was like in Harlem and what people had to go through. In the story racism is often mentioned throughout like a dark vail. Though it is not often referenced directly but its can still be felt continuously. One example is when Baldwin talks about decrepit housing projects that rise out of Harlem like rocks in the middle of the boiling sea. These housing projects began to combine federal segregation laws which made it a representation of the impact of racism on a community. In the story the narrator has anxiety for his students, like sonny who is young and has to deal with discrimination against him even though he hasn’t done anything wrong. Much of the sadness and suffering in this story is because of the effects of racism. The narrator says that this suffering is something that has been passed down from one generation to another in the African American community. The constant but vague influence of racism becomes very clear when the narrator’s mother explains how drunk white men murdered her brother-in-law. She tries to warn the narrator that something like this could happen to Sonny; this showed her concern that racism is still a very real threat to the family. In this story Baldwin shows that the place in which you live can affect the way that you are raised and the way that you are treated.

 James Baldwin shows the theme of relationship in the book Go Tell it on the Mountain. This story shows relationship because he is talking about his own relationships in this semiaotobiographal. The book shows the damaged relationship Baldwin has with his stepfather and the racism that he faced.The book deals with 14-year-old John Grimes, whose intellect seems to him the way to escape the strictures of his straitlaced unloving stepfather who is a preacher. In his work to finish the book he moved to Switzerland where he could be in isolation for 3 months, writing and revising the work that had been forming in his mind since his mind since his early teens. In order to complete the book, Baldwin went to Switzerland and lived a fairly isolated life for three months, writing and revising material that had been taking shape in his mind since his early teens. When Baldwin’s book was finished it was met with positive reviews across the country because of the content and his eloquent, lyrical writing. In this novel the theme of ea In this novel the theme of racism centers around the character of Gabriel. In the book he makes a very big deal about it though not getting as much flout as Richard. Baldwin is Punctilious in showing how often Gabriel is angry at white people and trains his children to be the same. When Roy gets stabbed in a fight with white people, Gabriel takes the opportunity to say to John that that’s what white people do to black people; not giving any blame to Roy for causing trouble. Richard is the one who suffers the most though. He has been unjustly accused of a robbery that he didn’t commit.Richard sadly goes into a state of despair over the unfairness of the world even when he tries to better himself. The book also says, “You think I want to stay around here the rest of my life with these dirty niggers?” “Where do you expect us to live, honey, “I thought I married a man who didn’t just want to stay on the bottom all his life!” “And what you want me to do, Florence? You want me to turn white”(Baldwin 95-96). This excerpt again brings up the issue that some believe that if you want to become better and be successful you must imitate someone that is white. In this excerpt Baldwin tries to change this by idea that many people had at the time by bringing awareness to the issue and demanding that as a people we do better.

In Zora Neale Hurston’s book Every Tongue Got to Confess she uses the theme of change in america. This shows the theme of change in america because she addresses problems that she has witnessed and does not understand why they continue. In the book she says, “Why weren’t novels and poems by Americans of African descent being taught at the university? Why were so few of us attending and almost none of us teaching there” (Hurston np)? In these sentences she is bringing awareness to a major problem at the time which was the fact that many African Americans were not getting higher education. Many African Americans that were highly educated also never got a chance for their work to be admired in a school environment because of the discrimination at the time. She also says, “Why had the training I’d received in the so-called “best” schools alienated me from my particular cultural roots and brainwashed me into believing in some objective, universal, standard brand of culture and art essentialist” (Hurston np). Here she brings up that in her desire for higher education she was met with a force that tried to tell her that if she wanted more knowledge she would have to give up on her cultural roots and except those that were being fed to here by people who thought of her as less. Lastly, she says,  “Doomed people like me to marginality on the campus and worse, consigned the vast majority of us who never reach college to a stigmatized, surplus underclass.” Here she brings up the problem that those who are lucky to make it out and go to higher education are treated insignificantly while those who get stuck and go through discrimination which ends up forcing them into the underclass. Overall Hurston wishes that America was a place where African Americans are treated equally and they receive the same opportunities as those that are white. She hope that African Americans can be praised for their work and not just discriminated for their skin color.

 In Zora Neale Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God she shows the theme of relationship. In this story Janie says, “We’se uh mingled people and all of us got black kinfolks as well as yaller kinfolks”(Hurston 151) by saying this she is combating Mrs. Turner’s belief that mixed folk are superior than other black people. In this story Mrs. Turner believes that lighter skinned folk should treat darker people poorly.  Janie brings up the fact that they both have relatives that are lighter and darker than them which makes Mrs. Turner’s argument illogical. Janie does not agree with Mrs. Turner’s ideas and in fact is in a relationship with a darker man. In this novel hurston is pushing that we should all be seen as equals and not discriminate just because of the color of one’s skin. Later in the story Tea Cake while helping bury dead bodies after the hurricane he says, “They’s mighty particular how dese dead folks goes tuh judgement…. Look lak dey think God don’t know nothin’ ’bout de Jim Crow law”(Hurston 172). In this quote Tea Cake is explaining how black and white people are being buried separately and how white people are buried in pine coffins while black people get nothing.  After seeing what is happening he says that there are no Jim Crow Laws in heaven. By saying this he is saying that this separation is wrong and that in God’s eyes there isn’t’ any discrimination. This again is a foreshadowing of the change that Hurston wishes to see in the real world.

 In Zora Neale Hurston’s story Mules and Men she uses the theme of place. These book was created during her travels to Florida, including Eatonville the town in which she was raised in and Polk County, and the other in New Orleans. The name Mules and Men is a symbol; mules because they were overworked and burdened like mules but were still human. The mule also stood for individualism, stubbornness, strength, and unpredictability which she believed were characteristics of African Americans. In one of the tales in this book she talks of a story of how black people were created. This story is part of the folklore that Hurston studied in Eatonville. It’s starts off by saying, God created people in a process that went piece by piece and how

 Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, and Zora Neale Hurston all used their literature to convince and show awareness of the discrimination and racial inequalities in the 20th century with stalwart determination. Their ideas of equality, ending stereotypes, and ending discrimination permeated throughout America. More and more people began to join in this effort until it finally ended in an explosion of feelings, politics, and justice that we call the Civil Rights Movement that lasted during the 1950s and 1960s. This nonviolent protest              that fought for equal rights between white and African Americans was the pinnacle of what Harlem Renaissance writers like Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, and Zora Neale Hurston were striving for.

Baldwin, James. “Go Tell It on the Mountain – PDF Free Download.” Epdf.pub, EPDF.PUB, Baldwin, James. “Sonny’s Blues.” Genius, genius.com/14478135.

Biography.com Editors. “Langston Hughes.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 16 Apr. 2019, www.biography.com/writer/langston-hughes.

Biography.com Editors. “James Baldwin.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 15 Apr. 2019, www.biography.com/writer/james-baldwin.

Biography.com Editors. “Zora Neale Hurston.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 16 Apr. 2019,

Editors, History.com. “Harlem Renaissance.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 29 Oct. 2009,

Hughes, Langston. “I, Too by Langston Hughes.” Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation,

Hughes, Langston. “Harlem by Langston Hughes.” Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation,.

Hughes, Langston. “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain by Langston Hughes.” Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation,

Hurston, Zora Neale. “Every Tongue Got to Confess Quotes by Zora Neale Hurston.” Goodreads, Goodreads,

Hurston, Zora Neale. “Mules and Men (P.S.) – PDF Free Download.” Epdf.pub, EPDF.PUB,

Hurston, Zora Neale. “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” Their Eyes Were Watching God, HarperCollins Publishers Inc.


Aleatoric Music Of The 20th Century Music Essay

compositional and instrumental methods utilized by John Cage. The biographical background, educational influences and examples of the musical compositions of Cage will also be illustrated. This paper continues by describing the various methods and processes employed by John Cage in the formation of music written during the minimalist movement. Contrived instruments, ambient audience noise, non-traditional tone structures and electronic music will be identified and defined. Furthermore, this paper will explore the debate over aleatoric music as art form versus noise. Traditionally, Western music is highly structured and organized- however, music written in aleatory form generally lacks traditional instrumentation, time, and other methods present in Western forms. According to whom one would ask, aleatoric music can be extremely complex, emotional and intellectual. On the other hand, there are those who believe aleatoric music is nothing more than random noise with no structure, rhyme or reason. Over the course of this paper, the reader will be able to discern that aleatoric music is a definitive musical genre.
Aleatoric Music of the 20th Century:
Compositions of John Cage – An Art Form, Not Noise
Aleatoric music refers to musical compositions where some aspect of the music is left to chance. The tempo, instrumentation, dynamics, order of the written music, or various other devices can be manipulated. Simply put, aleatoric music is left up to some amount of chance. However, the amount of chance is not immeasurable. In many cases, the composer only allows a portion of the entire composition to chance while the rest conforms to standard Western-influenced counterpoint. The American composer John Cage was one of the foremost composers who utilized aleatory in musical works. He was also the father of the avant-garde in music during the minimalist movement.
By studying the devices used in Cage’s compositions, the argument will be clearly made that aleatoric music, while sometimes free in form and function, is clearly a structured art form and not random noise.
Aleatoric Music of the 20th Century:
Compositions of John Cage – An Art Form, Not Noise
Aleatoric Music
Explicative definition of aleatoric music
Overview of aleatoric devices
John Cage
Early life and education
B. Utilization of aleatoric devices in compositions
Thesis support
Compare and contrast with opposing viewpoint
Acknowledge and dismiss opposing view utilizing evidenciary support
Summarize main points
Reinforce the argument that aleatoric music is not random
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Selena Markham
MUS 2930
Dr. Valerie Austin
November 22, 2010
Aleatoric Music of the 20th Century:
Compositions of John Cage – An Art Form, Not Noise
Aleatoric music refers to musical compositions where some aspect of the music is left to chance. The tempo, instrumentation, dynamics, order of the written music, or various other devices can be manipulated. Simply put, aleatoric music is left up to some amount of chance. However, the amount of chance is not immeasurable. In many cases, the composer only allows a portion of the entire composition to chance while the rest conforms to standard Western-influenced counterpoint. The American composer John Cage was one of the foremost composers who utilized aleatory in musical works. He was also the father of the avant-garde in music during the minimalist movement. By studying the devices used in Cage’s compositions, the argument will be clearly made that aleatoric music, while sometimes free in form and function, is clearly a structured art form and not random noise.
One of the most prolific composers of music in aleatory, John Cage, was born September 5, 1912 in Los Angeles, California. He was the only child of
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parents Lucretia and John Cage, Sr. (two other sons passed away as infants). His father was an inventor and his mother worked on and off as a writer for the Los Angeles Times. The couple met in Greeley, Colorado. John Cage, Sr.’s father was a Baptist minister who felt music was of the Devil. His mother, Lucretia (her maiden name was Harvey) was considered rebellious because she read books (a practice her family forbade). The young couple fled the restrictive atmosphere of Colorado for the more welcoming state of California. John Cage, Sr. had an avid interest in undersea vessels and, in fact, invented a device that was used in the English Channel to successfully detect German submarines during World War I. The intellect and innovative spirit of his mother and father would serve young Cage well throughout his lifetime. (Rich 142).
As early as age eight, the young Cage began to express an interest for music that was slightly outside of the norm. While taking piano lessons with his aunt, the young boy confessed he enjoyed the music of Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg (Rich 145). When Cage graduated in 1928, his grades earned him the record of having the best academics in Los Angeles High School’s history. From high school, Cage spent two years at Pomona College (Struble 287).
While at Pomona College, he studied ministry and writing. (Rich 145). Cage then went on hiatus to Europe for two years. While there, he composed many short works, some using mathematical formulas. Unfortunately, Cage did
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not save these early works- as he traveled, he would go through his belongings and discard any non-essential items in order to lighten his load (Nicholls 175).
He returned to the United States in 1931 and in 1933, John Cage began to study piano under Richard Buhlig, who introduced the composer to serialism, an aleatoric musical device. Serialism is “music which has been written with a high degree of organization” (Brindle 17). Since Buhlig had premiered serialist composer Arnold Schoenberg’s composition Three Piano Pieces, Cage hoped Buhlig would introduce him to Schoenberg. Instead, Cage’s first published piece, Sonata for Clarinet (1933), brought him to the attention of Henry Cowell, a professor teaching the “new music” at the New Music Society of California in San Francisco. Though Cage was able to informally study with Schoenberg, Cowell was his primary influence (Lipman 22).
The Sonata for Clarinet also shows how Cage used serialism to reproduce the same pitches in retrograde in the last movement from the first movement of the same composition in a highly organized fashion. Ironically, when the Sonata for Clarinet premiered, Cage found himself performing it on piano because the clarinetist was unable to do so (Nicholls 176).
Over the course of the next two years (1933-34), John Cage invented a new technique called 25-pitch non-repetitive serialism. In this technique, each voice is limited to a twenty-five note pitch area and no pitch can be repeated
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until all twenty-five have been played. He also used this technique in three additional pieces he wrote during this period: the Sonata for Two Voices (Nov. 1933), Composition for Three Voices (1934) and Solo… and Six Short Inventions (1933-34). The use of this technique was generally not harmonically sound with the exception of a few phrases (Nicholls 177).

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John Cage composed two pieces in 1935 (Three Pieces for Flute Duet and Two Pieces for Piano) that also used the serialism technique. The harmony was paired with a highly chromatic melodic line that made the pieces overwhelmingly contrapuntal. However, these pieces tended to possess a higher percentage of harmonically pleasing subject matter (Nicholls 184). These works also coincided with his introduction to Merce Cunningham, an author, choreographer and Cage’s lifelong love interest. As a result, Cage began to be interested in how music correlated with dance. John Cage and Merce Cunningham collaborated to organize performances using Cage’s music and Cunningham’s choreography over the course of their lifetimes (Thomson 77).
Another interesting device John Cage used in his composition was ambient noise. In his piece 4′ 33″ (1952), a piano or any ensemble is to conduct themselves as if they were preparing to play. However, the instrument(s) or performer(s) never utter a singular sound- for the entire four minutes and
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thirty-three seconds. The idea is to attune one’s self with the ambient noise of the room, the noise entering the room from outside and the natural noises of the people within (Lipman 30). The piece has also been said to be an example of freedom in general (Brindle 122). This work had its premiere by pianist David Tudor in Woodstock, New York, on August 29, 1952, in the Maverick Concert Hall (located near where the 1969 Woodstock Festival was held). Cage (interviewed in the late 1980s by William Duckworth) stated that he listened to the piece every day and that in Indian culture, it is we that turn away from the music. However, the music is always there (Bonds 588-589).
An original device employed by John Cage was an invention all his own- the prepared piano. A prepared piano is a grand piano where the inside strings are manipulated by foreign objects to produce a twelve-tone scale. Such was the case with Cage’s composition Bacchanale (1940)- a percussive piece he was commissioned to write to be performed with a dance group. The work was originally intended for percussion instruments, but was relegated to the prepared piano when it was deemed the concert hall was too small for all of the required instrumentation. Cage required that “bolts and weatherstripping be attached to the strings connected to the 12 different notes” (Bonds 590).
John Cage’s influence in the realm of electronic music began as early as 1937. His composition Imaginary Landscape No. 1 (1939) was one of the first
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written in the electronic genre. It consisted of recording “oscillatory frequencies on two 78rpm gramophone records” (Brindle 99). He also wrote a piece comprised of fifty-one tapes (each twenty minutes long) produced on the computer system of Illinois University (Illiac) that could be played in any order along with seven live harpsichords and a light show of sorts. This piece was written in 1967 and titled HPSCHD (Brindle 125).
John Cage began to write pieces titled by the number of performers later in his life. For example, the work titled One (1987) was for one pianist. Another work, titled Five (1988) was for string quintet. These pieces are dubbed “number pieces” (Moser 31). Even these odd little pieces have a structure- the structure being the amount of time the performer has to perform each measure and the number of musicians required for performance.
As illustrated with the devices John Cage used in his compositions, his works are very structured and organized. Cage was one of the “total serialists, who felt that music composition could be planned and analyzed with the precision of scientific experiments” (Lipman 56). In his own words during a lecture in Darmstadt in 1958:
“The function of the performer… is comparable to that of someone
filling in color where outlines are given; … is that of giving form,
providing, that is to say, the morphology of the continuity, the
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expressive content; … is that of a photographer who on obtaining a camera uses it to take a picture; … is comparable to that of a
traveler who must constantly be catching trains the departures of
which have not been announced but which are in the process of
being announced” (Moser 8).
It is clear by reading these words that Cage finds his music to have form, which is a staple of Western music. In addition, his music is generally left up to the interpretation of the performer- definitively not an aspect of Western music. Even still, form is readily detectable within his works regardless of how the stated form is interpreted by the performers.
Another argument concerning music in aleatory is that there are no determinate ways to discern the number of possible arrangements. This simply is not true: “… the exact number of realizations of an indeterminate score can often be determined…” (Moser 11).
In conclusion, John Cage lived during an exciting time in American history. Just after his birth in 1912, the United States found itself fully engaged in World War I. The United States truly became a world power during this time. The enlightenment through his well-rounded and educated parents as well as the
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excitement and innovations of the new century served John Cage well, as he was able to thrive and grow as an intellectual and musician in this environment. Although his music is sounds extremely dissonant and non-harmonic, it exhibits a high amount of structure. Cage’s earlier works illustrate a mathematical approach to the music- meaning that the music makes sense based on mathematical principles, but not necessarily traditional ideals surrounding musical composition. The influence of John Cage’s music can certainly be felt today in late 20th century jazz and numerous other works that allow the performers greater freedoms. Take, for instance, the piece recently performed on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Dr. Joanna Hersey premiered a work for her Low Brass Ensemble at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke titled Sails, Whales and Whalers (2008) by Gary Buttery. This work included recorded whale song interspersed with the live music produced by the Low Brass Ensemble (Hersey & Krosschell). Perhaps Gary Buttery’s composition was influenced in some way by the works of John Cage. There is no doubt that many musicians past, present, and future have been and will continue to be influenced by Cage’s maverick attitude toward music.
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Music in the 20th Century

The 20th century music started around the time of 1900 – 1960. The simplest way to describe the 20th century is: the period of fundamental change. Different styles were popular in different areas. This type of music was very common in European countries, places like Germany and France were very involved in the creation of the era as well as composers in America. This era was a different era to any that had gone before, all music characteristics that were once part of the romantic era were completely contrasted to create the 20th century music which is emotionless yet evokes emotion. There were many famous composers during the 20th century such as Claude Debussy (1862 – 1918), a French composer; and Maurice Ravel (1875 – 1937) – they were known as the two “great” impressionist. As well as them was Igor Stravinsky (1882 – 1971) he composed neoclassical pieces. George Gershwin (1898 – 1937) an American composer incorporated jazz blues into his pieces. These are just a few composers who tried to compose music which was out of the ordinary.

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During the transformation from Romantic era to 20th Century a lot of things changes. Suddenly some elements were more important than others. Where in Romantic era tonality was not as important it became more important in the 20th Century. Form was once important, especially in baroque, but in the 20th century it became less important. Rhythms however became an important part of 20th century music they were very different to the rhythms of the previous periods. Harmonies became more complex and new. The texture was predominantly the same but in some 20th century styles the texture would change often. George Gershwin, an American composer, was one of the composers that used new scales and harmonies in his pieces. He implemented jazz blues into his piece “Rhapsody in Blue”.
The characteristics of the 20th Century music was new to everyone that lived in that time. Tone colour changed from having to blend to not blending at all and the use of percussion instruments increased. Melodies and harmonies too were no longer as they were. Chords were being used differently melodies were becoming unpredictable. There was less emphasis on the differentiation between consonant and dissonant harmonies. Composers started using the twelve-tone system a lot more often as well. In pieces such as Assez Lent by Maurice Ravel, you can clearly hear the change between the dissonant and consonant parts of the piece as well as the constant change in dynamic and the use of chromatic notes.
Impressionistic music was mainly composed in the European area. The aim of this music was not to express emotion or to tell a story but rather to create atmosphere and allow listeners to create their own interpretations. This music style included many dissonant chords and an extensive use of whole-tone scales. Other characteristics such as differences in dynamics, continuous change in texture and frequent modulation was also used in this style. Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel are the most well-known impressionist composers in the 20th century. A well-known composition composed by Ravel was The Pavane of the Dead Princess. The piece gained much interest through the image the title portrayed, it was suggestive “who is the dead princess?” the title is even more impressionistic as the piece is not about a dance for a dead princess but rather a young princess dancing to a pavane. Ravel’s opinion on the piece changed as he felt it was not original enough, that the ABACA form was too weak.
Expressionisms is a style that originated in Germany. Its main feature was to create emotional within the listener. Expressionists attempted to create emotion through creating music that was different to what had been composed in previously. The lack of tonality and sharp melodies definitely created emotions within the listeners as it was completely different to anything that had been written in the romantic era. A well-known composer of this style is Arnold Schoenberg, creator of the twelve-tone system. Pierrot Lunaire, is a common composition of Schoenberg’s. You can tell that it is an expressionism piece through the use of twelve-tone notes, irregular rhythms and constant time signature changes.
Neoclassicism is a music style that was predominant during the two world wars. It is a style in which the music contains characteristics and elements from musical styles of previous eras, most commonly classical. Some of these elements include balance form and lack of emotion. Although the music has imitations of the classical and baroque era, it still includes the new harmonisations and progressions found in the 20th century music. Neoclassicism was seen as a style going against the styles of the romantic period, it was not considered to be a protest or movement but rather it became popular for musicians to compose in this style. One of the most common composers of neoclassicism was Igor Stravinsky. He composed one of the first neoclassical pieces was The Rite of Spring. The public at the time rioted about the new style as it was completely different to everything they had heard before, the lack of harmonisation and dissonant sounds was displeasing and in that way evoked emotion although negative at that.
The 20th Century period was by far the most productive era. Everything that occurred in the 20th century changed to idea of music completely. What once was just strict harmonies and beautiful melodies could now be atonal and have no real structure. Even the sound of an audience could be considered music. This drastic change in music ideology has and will affect the way music is produced in today’s time.
Unknown: (ppt) 20th Century “ism”
Dr Melanie Foster, 2009: Analysis of The Rite of Spring

Music History and Analysis. Atlantic International University: bachelor, master, doctoral degree. 2014. Music History and Analysis. Atlantic International University: bachelor, master, doctoral degree. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.aiu.edu/publications/student/english/131-179/Music-History-and-Analysis.html
Neoclassicism (music) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2014. Neoclassicism (music) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. [ONLINE] Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Neoclassical_Music&oldid=134035187
BBC – GCSE Bitesize: Expressionism. 2014. BBC – GCSE Bitesize: Expressionism. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/music/music_20th_century/schoenberg1
Impressionism. 2014. Impressionism. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.academic.muohio.edu/mus189/impressionism/
Maurice Ravel – The Elegant Impressionist. 2014. Maurice Ravel – The Elegant Impressionist. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.favorite-classical-composers.com/maurice-ravel.html.
Program Notes Title. 2014. Program Notes Title. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.barbwired.com/barbweb/programs/ravel_pavane.html.

Music in the 20th Century

The 20th century is described as the period from 1900-1999, however, there is an inconsistency with the dates allocated to this period of music (20th century music). Most people believe the dates to be 1900-1940. This is because when people refer to 20th century music, they are referring to 20th century “classical” music (as opposed to jazz, rock, pop etc.).This period (1900-1940) is when the main works of the era were composed. There were many countries involved in the development of this era. Countries such as Germany and Russia (influenced neoclassicism) and France (influenced impressionism). Other areas, such as Argentina, Brazil and Latin America produced some important composers. Prominent composers in this era include; Igor Stravinsky, Claude Debussy, George Gershwin, Bela Bartok and Arnold Schoenberg.

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Although music from the 20th century is vastly different from previous eras, the composers were still influenced by elements of the past. They used a combination these elements and the other elements introduced in this era to create their own sound. There are five basic categories to describe the musical elements of 20th century music. These are melody, rhythm, harmony, texture and timbre/instrumentation. The melodies were wide-ranging, contained wide-leaps (much less vocal-centric), and were unbalanced and unpredictable. There was much less emphasis put on the melody and this meant the rhythms became more important. This is different from the previous eras except for the fact that the Baroque and Romantic eras also had hard-to-remember melodies. The rhythms in 20th century music became more complex. There were frequent tempo changes and the music used polyrhythms and other exciting and different rhythmic techniques. These polyrhythms can be seen in Charles Ives’ music. As mentioned before, there was more emphasis on rhythm in this era compared to the previous eras. The rhythms were also quite unpredictable. Other than that, these elements are quite similar to the romantic era and quite different to the classical era (steady tempo etc.). There were a few new harmonic techniques introduced in this era. These include the fourth chord (notes a fourth apart), the polychord (two chords played at the same time) and tone clusters. With regards to key, there was an increase in atonal (no home key) and polytonal (more than one home key) music and also the introduction of the 12-tone technique. There was an uncontrolled emphasis on dissonance and dissonant chords, similar to the romantic era, except dissonance in the 20th century was used way more frequently. This created a constant clashing sound/feel in the music that was almost unheard of in the classical and Baroque eras. The texture of this era was polyphonic and contrapuntal as opposed to homophonic. There was more of an emphasis on increasing tonal range and on percussion and wind instruments as opposed to string instruments as seen in the previous eras. Their role was changed to that of a more percussive one, as seen in Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. Electronic instruments were also sometimes used.
This era was a time of revolt and change. Like any other period it is a change as a reaction to the previous ideas of the previous eras. At first these styles were not received well (causing riots at concerts), but eventually, people got used to the unconventional style of this era. It is quite different to the periods before it. The developments in this era include: more electronic instruments being used and developments in compositional techniques that completely disregarded previous rules or systems (while sometimes using elements for the previous eras). This can be seen in the development of the harmonic techniques. It was basically a time where each composer could experiment and create their own style and sound (e.g use of whole-tone and pentatonic scales). This was because they did not have to follow existing rules set out for them, like in the baroque and classical periods.
Impressionism, as the name suggests, focuses on the impression of an idea that a piece of music evokes rather than having a clear description. This creates a soft, subtle, almost dream-like effect. The music has a colourful texture and uses unusual scales such as the whole-tone scale. It was influenced by the impressionist movement in France, which was an artistic movement. Many of the composers were influenced by the nature of the paintings themselves. Some say this movement was a reaction to late romanticism. Composers within the genre preferred to use short genres and forms such as preludes, nocturnes and arabesques. A prominent composer in this style is French composer, Claude Debussy. You can clearly see elements of impressionism in his composition, Clair De Lune from Suite Bergamasque. The piece has an overall dream-like effect and Debussy experiments with non-functional harmony. Even though it opens and closes with the tonic chord of D flat major, the root key throughout the piece is unclear. There is a presence of dissonance and the rhythms are relatively complex. As mentioned before there is a use of unconventional harmony.
Expressionism is extremely emotionally driven. It acts as reaction to the composer’s subconscious mind.” It was influenced/started by Van Gogh’s paintings. The music is not meant to be “pretty” or “pleasing to the ear .This is why some say it is a reaction to this positive characteristic of Impressionism. The music is very expressive, similar to the romantic period, so there are contrasts in dynamics and tempo. The melodies are also unbalanced with wide–leaps and complex rhythms. There is still a presence of dissonance and tonality has also basically been terminated. Some genres within this style include orchestral pieces and dramas such as operas, melodramas and one- act dramas. This was probably a popular genre because dramas are sure to evoke the strong emotion the music suggests. A prominent composer in this genre is Austrian composer, Arnold Schoenberg. He influenced the development of atonality and 12-tone technique. Many elements of expressionism can be seen in his composition, Erwotung Op.17 (1909). This composition is a score for his one-act drama, Erwotung. The music of the orchestra perfectly reflects the strong emotions of the main character (when she finds her dead lover) and the depressing story line, which supposedly has elements of dirty realism. This composition has no overall musical, rhythmic, melodic and harmonic structure (it is through-composed). It is atonal, as most expressionist music is, and it is still quite expressive.
Neoclassicism is more “structural” than impressionism and expressionism. It is more balanced and places more emphasis on emotional restriction. This was influenced by the elements of the classical period and that is why it is called Neoclassicism. It was a reaction to the emotionally driven romanticism and expressionism periods. Germany and France were involved with the development of this style because of the composers it produced. Even though there was more structure, there were still elements of 20th music, such as complex/exciting rhythmic aspects. Similar to the classical period, genres within this style include symphonies, operas, chamber music, concerto grosso, fugue etc. A prominent composer within this style is Igor Stravinsky. He is a Russian composer who converted to this style after the 1920s. It is said that his opera, The Rake’s Progress, was the composition that concluded his Neoclassicism. This opera was set in the 18th century; therefore it gave way for classical elements in the music to be displayed. It is a 3-act opera that is based on the legend of Faust. Stravinsky uses counterpoint in this opera which indicates a contrapuntal texture. As with most of Stravinsky’s works, the rhythms relatively energetic and there is a melodic and harmonic diversity.
The 20th century was a time of change and experimentation and 20th century music reflects that. The many styles and techniques that have developed from this one era and the non-existent limits that were put into place for composers reflects just how less structured the music was compared to the previous eras of music.
(1314 words)
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“All about Romantic Music and Its Features.”All about Romantic Music and Its Features. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Aug. 2014. http://www.mostlywind.co.uk/romantic.html>.
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GMK notes: grade 11 and 9(SA and FR)
“Igor Stravinsky.”Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 09 Mar. 2014. Web. 04 Sept. 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Igor_Stravinsky>
“Impressionist Music.”Princeton University. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Aug. 2014. http://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/wiki100k/docs/Impressionist_music>.
Leeuw, Ton De, and Rokus De. Groot.Music of the Twentieth Century: A Study of Its Elements and Structure. Amsterdam: Amsterdam UP, 2005. Print.
“Music Listening – 20th Century.”Flashcards. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Aug. 2014. http://quizlet.com/32297831/music-listening-20th-century-flash-cards/> .
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The Rake’s Progress.”- Simple English Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Sept. 2014. http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rake’s_Progress>.
“Three Musicians.”Three Musicians. N.p., n.d. Web. 27Aug. 2014. http://www.tarleton.edu/Faculty/boucher/Fundamentals20thCentury.html>.  

Architecture of the 20th Century

While discussing the subject of architecture of the 20th century, the discussion is incomplete without a special mention of Robert Venturi. The man started his life in Philadelphia on 25th June, 1925 he went on to become one of the most prevalent names in American architecture. The information on Venturi includes a special mention of his wife Denise Scott Brown. 1960 was the year they first meet , got married in 1967 they have always been together ever since . This husband and wife team did remarkable work in the region of architecture, launching themselves with their joint venture better recognized as Venturi, Scott Brown & Associates (VSBA). “Architecture steeped in popular symbolism. Kitsch had become art in designs which exaggerate or stylize cultural icons.” [1]
Some of the most important design strategies adopted by Brown were ‘theory is not the rule of thumb’, ‘learn to copy’, ‘drawing-a must have’, ‘ideation is constant’ etc.
According to Robert and Denise, theory is not the rule of thumb. While most architects glued to theory when it comes to planning designs, Robert Venturi and Denise Scotte Brown thought the opposite way. According to them design process should not be dominated by the theory. This was despite the fact that both of them were well known theoreticians. Venturi even went on to say that “the artist is not someone who designs in order to prove his or her theory and certainly not to suit an ideology”[2]

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While most of the architects followed the philosophy of not copying, Venturi and Brown had a different point of view here too. They believed that they could learn more by copying the works of the masters. As Venturi correctly puts forth, “It is better to be good than to be original.” [3] But, this in no way meant a complete imitation. To this, Denise Scott Brown makes it clear that they copy ideology that they copy ideologies. The duo only took copying to the extent of drawing inspiration. Their inspiration was a base to develop further designs. Venturi says, “You have to have something basic that you either build on or evolve from or revolt against. You have to have something there in the first place and the only way to get it is to copy, in a good sense of the word.”[3]
One, of course, needs to possess certain skills to leave a mark the field of architecture. According to Robert and Denise, drawing was the most essential one. Referring to the skill as a facility between hand and mind, Denise Scott Brown also said that it was essential for designers to master drawing in order to succeed. She believed that it often happened that the hand draws something, which the mind interprets in a different way and you draw a whole new idea from it.
In an era where everyone thought that handwriting has a little significance as everything can be done using specially designed software, the duo has its arguments ready. “People who can draw very well and who control line weight well in hand technique are the ones who use the computer imaginatively,”[4] they asserted.
Who says that you need to sit down in a board room to ideate? Well, not Venturi at least. In his opinion ideation cannot be bound by place or time; he believed that one could ideate anytime and anywhere, even while talking. Venturi alleged “that even while talking one suddenly sees something else out of the corner of their eye and they think of something they wouldn’t have done otherwise. He also opined that you ideate more while working on other projects and averred the idea only comes after great struggle and agony.”[5]
Some of the important buildings built by the duo are – The Vanna Venturi House, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1962, Brant House in Greenwich, Connecticut in 1973, Gordon Wu Hall in Princeton, New Jersey in 1983, Bank building in Celebration in Florida in 1994 and many more.
Since mid 1960s Robert and Denise greatly altered the landscape of the American Architectural thought their processes and practices with their design strategies. Robert Venturi’s book ‘Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture became a uniting point for budding architects around the globe who had become cynical with the stylistic restrictions of the International Style as a result of which the book provided a manifesto for the Post-Modern movement in architecture. Followed by this out of his teachings at Yale came his 1972 book Learning from Las Vegas which was co-authored by Steven Izenour and Denise Scott Brown. The architectural world was once again astonished by this work. The the gaudy and the sign-filled Vegas strip was transformed from being an architectural aberration to a vernacular art form which deserve serious study. Venturi felt that the Decorated Shed and various other types of roadside buildings offered design lessons that could not be left attended, an” he argued that architects require to face the reality and symbolize the popularly built environment with buildings corresponding to that environment.”[6]
“Kitsch is reflected as a form of art that is substandard and is a tasteless copy of an a complementary style of art or is a nugatory replica of art of recognized value.”[7] The deliberate use of elements that may be considered as cultural icons is what this concept is related to
“Kitsch can also be defined as the genres of art that aesthetically lack whether or not being theatrical, sentimental, glamorous, or creative and that make creative gestures which simply reflect the superficial appearances of art by means of repeated conventions and formulae. This term is often associated with excessive sentimentality.” [8]
The emergence of postmodernism in the 1980s, blurred the borders between kitsch and high art yet again. The approval of what is called camp taste – which may be related to, but is not the same as camp when used as a gay sensibility was one development.
An unreal or an assumed illustration from the world of painting would be a kitsch image of a deer by a lake. In making camp, panting a sign beside it, saying No Swimming. The majestic or romantic perception of a stately animal would be punctured by humor; the conception of an animal receiving a a penalty for the breach of the rule is out rightly ludicrous. The primordial, reflective sentimentality of the motif is neutralized, and thus, it becomes camp.
A few things that posed as interesting challenges were the conceptual art and deconstruction, because, talking of kitsch, in favour of elements that enter it by relating to other spheres of life they downplayed the formal structure of the artwork.
Inspite of this fact, many in the art world continue to latch onto some sense of the dichotomy between art and kitsch, excluding all sentimental and realistic art from being considered seriously. This has come under the scanner of the critics, who now argue for a renewed art and figurative painting, without the concern for it appearing innovative or new.
Whatever may be the scenario, there is difficulty in defining boundaries between kitsch and fine art since the beginning of postmodernism, the word kitsch is commonly used to label anything seen as being in poor taste still.
This postmodern architecture influenced by Venturi was further prejudiced by many architects like Philip Johnson and Robert A.M Stern.
When talking about American architecture, there is no way one can miss out on Philip Johnson. One of the most notable and renowned American architects, he was the winner of the first ‘Pritzker Architecture Prize’. For establishing the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art, New York is credited to him.
Philip was born in 1906 in Cleveland. He played a vital role in creating and understanding the urban skyscrapers through America. Johnson was an advocate of simple style and thus he played a significant role in strengthening the minimalist trend. The work of various modern architects, including Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier was comprehensively supported by Johnson. He was a co-author of the popular book, ‘The International Style’. The techniques of the Bauhaus were introduced to America by this book.
By the time Johnson reached the age of mid-thirties he was discontented with his role of an author and curator. So he studied under the architect Marcel Breuer at The Graduate School of Design. Johnson designed his own home in New Canaan, Connecticut soon after his graduation. His first architectural work, his house is considered one of his most remarkable works. The house was a glass house and featured an exposed steel frame. Johnson continued with his architectural quest and went on to design numerous public buildings and houses after his own house. Johnson designed some of his well-known works, notably the Seagram Building in New York City during this time.
Johnson had a more inspired than individualistic stint with architecture initially. His initial work carried a strong bear mark of Mies van der Rohe. However, an individualistic touch could be seen in his work by 1960’s. Infused with historical elements, his style of architecture showcased how one could aesthetically incorporate domes and colonnades in a building. He created some of his most monumental works of his life only after he discovered his individualistic architectural sense. Some of these include the Sheldon Art Gallery at the University of Nebraska, the New York State Pavilion at the World’s Fair and the New York State Theater in New York City. By the 1970s and 1980s, he began experimenting with the texture and color of the exterior of his creations at large though he was still stuck with his original style of architecture.
Today in his nineties, Johnson is considered as one of the last modern architects that we have. With a run of nearly 70 years in the field of architecture, he has surely carved his niche and will continue to inspire many architects in the times to come.
Another popular name in American architecture is of Robert Arthur Morton Stern, also known as Robert A.M. Stern. He is an American architect and presently the Dean of Yale University School of Architecture. His work is usually described as postmodern. However, a dominating emphasis on continuity of tradition in his work is witnessed which cannot be ruled out. No wonder, he recently used the phrase ‘modern traditionalist’ to describe his work.
As a designer in the office of Richard Meier he started his career in 1966. But he soon quit from his job and established his own firm, ‘Stern and Hagmann’ in 1969. He formed the firm
with a fellow student at the Yale University named John S. Hagmann. This was followed by the establishment of the successor firm, ‘Robert A.M. Stern Architects’, a name still very popular in American architecture.
He has a broad portfolio to his credit when talking about his work. Some of his more notable projects in the public domain include Lakewood Public Library in Lakewood, Ohio, the main library in Columbus, Federal Reserve Bank in Atlanta and many more. Stern was also a notable author apart from being a successful architect. He has authored New York 1880, New York 1960, and New York 2000- a series that documents the evolution and history of the architecture of New York City.
This postmodern architecture has his roots deep in the past, as is evident from his work. His buildings showcase a deep affection for the past. His most notable project with The Walt Disney Company reiterates the same. He served the company in the position of Board of Director for the tenure 1992-2003.
His boardwalk at Disney World is suggestive of an American seaside village from the early 20th century. You will be reminded of how architecture has evolved from Victorian to the Vienna Secessionist movement while you have a look at his buildings. The mini village beautified with artifacts from various eras, though not exactly historical, comes across as a dream like walk. And not to forget the Beach club, that reflects the 19th century American Resort architecture in its true form.
With a huge pool of work and a design philosophy that combined the best of modernism and tradition, Stern is certainly not a name to be forgotten in the architectural realm.
Though his broad horizon of work is a feat in itself, he has several other achievements to his credit as well. A Driehaus Prize laureate, he went on to win several awards. In the year 1984, he was awarded with the AIA New York Chapter’s Medal of Honor. He was also conferred the Chapter’s President’s Award in 2001. He also has to his credit the Scully Prize from the National Building Museum, Athena Award from the Congress for the New Urbanism and the Board of Directors’ Honor from the Institute of Classical Architecture and Classical America.
“Since long and even now Philip’s designs in PoMo mode reveal a decent to the level of kitsch that appears lest camp in its motivation than simply and unmitigately cheap in its effect” [9]. In the aesthetic program of Robert Venturi kitsch and the area of everyday culture was used. But at the same time in his artistic designs, he generally elevated them. In the circle of architects “Robert Venturi an Robert A M Stern, the so called Greys Designers whose work used the hybrid culture idioms of American day to day life as starting points of their new artistic direction including kitsch and pop.” [10] Thus Robert Venturi, Philip and Robert A M Stern are three flamboyant modern architects whose contribution to architecture have a made a difference to the architectural world.

The Justification of The 20th Century Drama

The justification for the existence of late 20th century drama being one of shocking an audience out of their complacency is quite a generalisation, bearing in mind that the two productions in question were almost a 40 years apart. The interim period certainly saw stage productions with developing themes of violence, ‘sex, drugs and rock n’ roll’ as with the latest trend of ‘In Yer Face’ theatre which are not only shocking in their content but also fly in the face of common decency and political correctness.

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By the end of World War II in 1945, the world had suffered many years of aggression and the violence that goes with it. The lives of everyone involved were affected. It affected the way people lived, the way people worked and even how theatre plays were written. Pinter’s ‘The Homecoming’ (1963) and McDonagh’s ‘The Pillowman’ (2003) provide an arena where hostility and aggression can no longer be ignored as a social issue. Whether or not there is good reason to say that late 20th Century theatre set out to purposefully shock audiences out of their ‘comfortable nests’ is debatable when one takes into account the relaxation of censorship in 1968 replaced by a form of self-censorship which gave individual playwrights the opportunity to express a more realistic and dramatic approach to everyday issues and concerns that had been festering away underneath society’s complacency such as poverty, morality, family values etc. There was an evolution of theatre productions rather than a revolution. The content of plays may have been shocking to audiences but to some extent were not unexpected given the way the theatre productions and indeed the audiences were developing.
Pre-war critics and theatre audiences had previously been used to seeing plays, which were mostly London based and provided a sense of occasion offering the upper and middle classes a chance to dress formally and sit in splendid surroundings ‘to see and be seen’. The content of plays delivered an uncomplicated message whether educational or humorous such as a Shakespearean comedy or J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, the main theme being one of entertainment rather than a thought provoking spectacle and many playwrights complied with this condition. This is not to say that no contentious issues were placed in the theatrical arena, for example, George Bernard Shaw wrote a series of plays that amused and challenged his audiences with his Plays Unpleasant (1898) relating to prostitution and philandering. Shaw was an entertainer and viewed the theatre as a means to make people think and that it had a serious purpose rather than offering the audience a more radical approach to his subject matter. His plays tended to show the accepted attitude, and then demolished that attitude while showing his own solutions. Shaw used familiar forms of melodrama, romance and history with unexpected twists, he shocked his audiences but in more of a surprising way as opposed to a more emotionally disturbing, offensive or indecent approach.

Eric Bentley said “If you wish to attract the audience’s attention, be violent; if you wish to hold it, be violent again.”

This may be interpreted and approached in two ways, either ‘physical violence’ or ‘verbal violence’ as a means of not only shocking an audience with either the content of conversations or the stage actions but also to keep their interest in what is going to happen next. A case of ‘more of the same’ if the audience responds.
As a reaction to World War II Absurdist theatre evolved, depicting the absurdity of the modern human state and related to a new genre of drama that could not be interpreted in a logical way. “What do I know about man’s destiny? I could tell you more about radishes.” (Beckett). Absurdist theatre openly rebelled against conventional theatre. One of the most important aspects of absurd drama is its distrust of language as a means of communication. Dr. Culik explains that the Theatre of the Absurd tries to make people aware of the possibility of going beyond everyday speech conventions and communicating more authentically. In Pinter’s The Homecoming and McDonagh’s The Pillowman we are faced with two different dimensions of absurdist theatre in that, both playwrights have created milieus which are difficult for audiences to come to terms with. In Pinter’s The Homecoming we have a setting within one room in a comfortable domestic household in which the use of crude language with violent undertones is at the forefront. The torrent of vulgar and repugnant language shocked audiences to the extent that it could not be rationalised. Hints of violence are demonstrated when Max tells the audience that he was once one of the toughest men in East London and that all men moved out of his way in the street. There is also the direct and brutal threat when Max says to his son Lenny “Listen! I’ll chop your spine off if you talk to me like that”
Pinter exploits claustrophobic power of everyday language in enclosed theatrical space. There is certainly a lack of harmony throughout the play based on the disjointed conversations, lack of continuity and the constant non- sensical verbiage, compounded by the unexpected, e.g. Ruth becoming a whore and Sam dropping dead etc. There is a disjunctive split between how the actors react to situations in the play and what the audience expect and perceive. Apart from the offensive language, for example, when Max refers to Ruth in a derogatory way, “We’ve had a smelly scrubber in my house all night. We’ve had a stinking pox-ridden slut in my house all night”, one of the most disconcerting elements of the Homecoming to the audience would have been the constant long pauses Pinter used; thus raising the anxiety of the audience by not knowing what was coming next. One of the most referred to of Pinter’s comments on his own plays was made during a lecture to students in 1962, concerning his stage direction trademark in the adoption of the “two silences”, the use of what became known as the ‘Pinter Pause’, when on the one hand, no actor is speaking and secondly, when there is a torrent of non-sensical abuse which has no relevance as to what has just been said and is technically a pause in the proceedings until the return of the topic of conversation.
These ‘silences’ proved perturbing and uncomfortable, even edgy to some audiences. The Homecoming appears to move from naturalism to absurdism, which is profoundly unsettling. Instead of finding a situation which emphasizes the role of the environment upon the characters we are drawn into a state where the characters’ existence becomes irrational and meaningless. Whilst the circumstances are naturalistic the dialogue is absurd, employing disjointed, repetitious, and meaningless dialogue, purposeless and confusing situations and plots that lack realistic or logical development. This was not so much a shocking concept but more of a bewildering set of circumstances designed to be thought provoking and perplexing to an audience.
McDonagh’s ‘The Pillowman’ on the other hand provides theatre goers with a more subtle approach to absurdist theatre with the actual setting and circumstances being absurd and not necessarily the dialogue. The horrific stories within the play with their explicitly violent subject matter helped to push the boundaries of what was acceptable to a new level and more in the form of brutalist or ‘In Yer Face’ theatre as exemplified by Sarah Kanes in “Blasted” (1995) which exhibits abject horror and atrocities, for example “Ian being raped, having his eyes bitten out and being compelled to consume a dead baby as he starves, alone, in the dark.”, was shocking and seemed unreal, as Kieron Quirke of the Evening Standard said “It moves beyond ‘shock theatre’ to become a powerful reminder that people are capable of anything. I rate it, but I hope it never becomes heresy to dislike it.” The Daily Mail denounced the play as ‘this disgusting feast of filth’, the Sunday Telegraph spoke scathingly against its ‘gratuitous welter of carnage’ and the Spectator called it ‘a sordid little travesty of a play’.
McDonagh, having been influenced by Pinter and indeed the film director Quentin Tarantino presents a twisted psychological horror and dark examination of a storytellers’ (Katurian) hold over an audience by the use of on-stage narrative to explore the power of the stories themselves to shock. ‘The Pillowman’ is not just an apparent political play it is a play with the artist sacrificing his life in order to protect his art for the future. Artistic freedom was at the core of this play and the responsibility that goes with it. Set in an unknown totalitarian state, this was an opportunity for a playwright to decry the evil and unjust way that dictatorships subdued freedom of speech which we were anticipating; however McDonagh turns this presumption on its head. Katurian is actually being interrogated by a couple of comical, brutal cops not because his stories are subversive to the totalitarian regime, but because they are almost entirely about the brutal torture and murder of children.
Katurian’s stories read like blueprints for some recent murders of children. Katurian is questioned about the gruesome subject matter of his short stories and their similarities to a number of strange child murders that have recently occurred.Katurian’s short stories are haunting and horrific eg. “101 ways to skewer a 5 year old”.
Michael Billington, of the Guardian said “in the end, you sense that McDonagh is playing with big issues to do with literature’s power to outlast tyranny rather than writing from any kind of experience”. Robert Isenberg commented that “The Pillowman is a test of will, suitable only for the gutsiest theatregoer”. The Pillowman is more of discomforting experience, shocking in its content but one containing wonderfully dark humour almost akin to the fairy tales of our youth with lurid and fantastical themes, the “Brothers Grimm” springs to mind”.
The Pillowman is a very unsettling and thought-provoking play, a review in the Financial Times referred to the play as “A complex tale about life and art, about fact and illusion, about politics, society, cruelty and creativity”. Whether or not McDonagh’s intention was to set out to shock audiences rather than provide intriguing subjects for debate is open to conjecture.

“Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are.” (Brecht)

Was the raison d’etre of late twentieth century drama to shock audiences out of their complacency? Did Pinter’s ‘The Homecoming’ and McDonagh’s ‘The Pillowman’ set out to shock audiences? Or did the relaxation of censorship in 1968 prove the catalyst for more adventurous playwrights to “buck the system” and take on the more established theatrical styles?

Modernismo in Spanish-american Poetry of the 20th Century

Abstract This research analyses Spanish modernismo in Spanish-American poetry. The paper investigates in depth the impact of Ruben Dario and Leopoldo Lugones, the most influential modernista poets of the twentieth century, on the development and spread of modernismo in Spain. The received results demonstrate that Spanish modernismo was new for Latin America and differed much from European Modernism. Due to the spread of nationalism, modernista poets experienced rejection and criticism from the members of Spanish society that regarded their literary works as the imitation of European poetry. However, Lugones and Dario opposed the existing restrictions and implemented new forms of poetic expression. In this regard, some findings of this research are consistent with the previous studies, while other results provide new valid data to the issue of Spanish modernismo in the twentieth century.    

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1 Statement of the problemSpanish modernismo is considered by some researchers and critics to represent a real revolution in Spanish-American literature of the twentieth century. The fact is that by the end of the nineteenth century the poetry of Latin America began to decease, thus innovations had to be implemented to revive it. Modernismo was new for Latin America, and the poets who greatly affected the formation of this movement were Leopoldo Lugones and Ruben Dario, as they were the first persons who implemented European poetic traditions into their writings, transforming the linguistic basis of poetry. However, this viewpoint is sometimes challenged by literary scholars who make attempts to eliminate the impact of modernismo on Spanish-American poetry. Gwen Kirkpatrick suggests that such a biased vision is explained by the fact that “many discussions of modernismo are stereotypically describing a ‘rubenismo’, the hackneyed copies of Ruben Dario’s style, while forgetting the movement’s audacity and its sweeping display of subject matter and styles”1. The conducted researches aggravate the issue by drawing a parallel between Spanish modernismo and European modernism. As a result, they provide ambiguous and invalid findings in regard to modernismo in Spanish-American poetry, instead of clarifying various aspects of the twentieth-century Hispanic literature.
2 IntroductionSpanish modernismo as a crucial literary trend of twentieth century Hispanic poetry was initiated by Leopoldo Lugones and Ruben Dario and achieved its peak in the years of 1888-1915. It had the major impact on Spanish poetry, but also affected other literary genres, such as short stories and novels. Modernismo appeared as a successful combination of the Symbolist and the French Parnassian literary movements and was especially widespread in Argentina, Mexico and Cuba2. Modernismo in Spain reflects various social and economic changes of the late nineteenth – early twentieth centuries.
It is mainly characterized by the substitution of the former structural and thematic components for new elements that include experiments with meter and rhyme and the utilization of such themes as landscape and eroticism. Thus, modernismo possesses three principal features: 1) novelty in rhyme and meter; 2) new appreciation of poetry’s role and 3) increase in subject themes. Social changes influenced the poets’ understanding of their roles and made them adhere to the literary traditions of such European poets and writers as Edgar Allan Poe, Baudelaire and Whitman. Latin America differed from other European countries because of the fact that it made constant attempts to maintain the principles of national identity. As a result, Spanish literature used to adhere to conventional values, and any withdrawal from these particular traditions was regarded as a real danger to the issues of nationality. Modernist poets such as Dario and Lugones were usually considered as escapists and Spanish-American poetry – as the imitation of foreign ways of expression. In view of these complex social and cultural restrictions, the rise of modernismo in Spain signified the elimination of the older stereotypes and the establishment of new models for poetry. The beginning of the twentieth century was also characterized by the spread of sciences and industries that contributed much to the formation of a rationalistic vision on life and universe.
However, due to the existing restrictions, modernista poets of that period could only unite European values with traditional ideals in their literary works. In this regard, modernismo in Spain collided with more complexities than Modernism in other countries. These complexities resulted in the fact that Spanish poetry of the earlier twentieth century revealed much ambiguity and inconsistency. Various attempts of Spanish poets to utilise modernista elements in their works were regarded as the imitation of European literary sources, and modernismo in whole – as the trend of dependence. However, recent criticism on Hispanic poetry of the twentieth century challenged this viewpoint, providing valid data to prove the uniqueness and importance of Spanish modernismo. The themes and innovations of modernismo gave rise to many aesthetic and cultural tendencies of Spanish-American poetry of the twentieth century.
The aim of the research is two-fold: 1) to analyse how modernismo represented a revolution in Spanish-American poetry in the 20th century; 2) to evaluate the importance of Ruben Dario and Leopoldo Lugones in the formation of modernismo. The paper is divided into sections. Chapter 1 provides a statement of the problem that uncovers the principal thesis of the dissertation. Chapter 2 conducts a general overview of modernismo through social and historical contexts. Chapter 3 observes the critical works that are written on the issue of Spanish modernismo. Chapter 4 discusses the theoretical tools that are applied for the analysis. Chapter 5 evaluates in detail the impact of Ruben Dario and Leopoldo Lugones on modernismo and the way they changed Spanish-American poetry. Chapter 6 provides a summarization of the received results, while Chapter 7 demonstrates the limitations of the research and gives the suggestions for further analysis of Spanish modernismo.
3 Review of the literatureVarious critical works are written on the issue of modernismo in Spain, providing rather contradictory findings. Cathy Jrade considers that modernista poets regarded the world as “a system of correspondences”3. Thus, they were in search of the ways to uncover the concealed truth about Latin America and the universe in whole. Some critical works on Spanish modernismo are aimed at analyzing modernista poetry through social contexts, including Noé Jitrik’s Contradicciones del modernismo, Françoise Perus’ Literatura y sociedad en América Latina and Angel Rama’s Rubén Darío y el modernismo4. According to Ricardo Gullon, “What is called modernismo is not thing of school nor of form, but of attitude… That is the modernismo: a great movement of enthusiasm and freedom towards the beauty”5. Discussing Spanish modernismo and the poets who contributed to the formation of this movement, Gwen Kirpatrick points at Leopoldo Lugones as “a true precursor of what might be called the dissonant trend in Spanish American poetry”6. The researcher considers that Lugones greatly influenced other poets of the subsequent generations by rejecting the traditional poetic norms and implementing new modernista elements.
Lugones’ legacy is especially obvious in the works of César Vallejo, Alfonsina Storni and Ramón López Velarde. Octavio Paz points at the fact that Lugones’ and Dario’s poetry is the beginning of “all experiences and experiments of modern poetry in the Spanish language”7. However, Paz also differentiates between Lugones and Dario; although he regards Dario as the initiator of modernismo, it is “Leopoldo Lugones who really initiates the second modernista revolution”8. On the other hand, some researchers criticize Lugones’ poetry and his impact on Spanish-American literature. For instance, Roberto F. Giusti claims, “What is Lugones’ literary personality? It is a difficult question to answer due to the simple fact that he lacks one”9. Amado Nervo contradicts this viewpoint by pointing at powerful aspect of Lugones’ poetry, especially Las montañas del oro. Although Nervo acknowledges the impact of foreign thinking on the works of Lugones, he nevertheless identifies many individualistic features of this modernista poet. As Nervo puts it, “Lugones’ personality is powerful, the most powerful in our America… The outside influences, the variety of reminiscences, the trivial and intimate suggestions of sages, poets, anti artists clash in his soul with his own and diverse ideas”10. However, Ezequiel Martínez Estrada suggests that Lugones’ poetry lacks real sincerity, he considers that “We see him [Lugones] change and contradict himself, but we never see him express himself with absolute sincerity”11. The different perception of Lugones’ poetry can be explained by the changes within Spanish society that shaped people’s understanding of poetry throughout the twentieth century. According to Manuel Pedro Gonzalez, those poets who directly succeeded Leopoldo Lugones greatly admired the poet’s excessive language and powerful verse12, but later generations of Spanish poets failed to rightfully perceive Lugones’ innovations, although they also borrowed some elements of his poetry. In view of such contradictory criticism on the issue of Spanish modernismo, the following analysis makes an attempt to solve this controversy and demonstrate a considerable impact of Ruben Dario and Leopoldo Lugones on Spanish-American poetry of the twentieth century.   
4 Research methodologyThe research utilises two theoretical research methods – a qualitative method and a discourse analytical approach. These methods provide an opportunity to investigate the issue of Spanish modernismo through various perspectives. The qualitative method is applied to the research to observe different views on the discussed issue, while the discourse analytical approach is aimed at analyzing cultural and social contexts that contributed much to the formation of modernismo in Latin-America. The discourse analytical approach explains the reasons for regarding Spanish modernismo as a revolution in Spanish-American poetry and the qualitative method interprets literary works of modernista poets. According to Ricoeur, “interpretation… is the work of thought which consists in deciphering the hidden meaning in the apparent meaning, in unfolding the levels of meaning implied in the literal meaning”13. As appropriate methods for investigation, the qualitative method and the discourse analytical approach demonstrate Spanish poetic traditions and the ways modernismo implemented new poetic forms.    
5 Discussion
5.1. BackgroundIn the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries Spanish-American poetry experienced its prosperity due to the occurred historical and political events. However, gradually the poetry of Latin America exhausted its potentialities and reflected only illusionary visions of reality. At the end of the nineteenth century Spanish-American poetry almost completely rejected the poetic traditions of Romanticism, because it was impossible to adhere to these traditions in view of quick changes in values and modernization of life in many places of Latin America. As Octavio Paz rightfully points out, “Modernity is our style for a century. It’s the universal style. To want to be modern seems crazy: we are condemned to be modern, since we are prohibited from the past and the future”14. It was in that period when some Latin American cities began to inherit European ideals on culture, science and art.
As Kirkpatrick puts it, “New immigration, varying degrees of industrialization, and labor-oriented social movements changed the maps of Spanish American cities in the early twentieth century”15. Thus, Spanish-American poets began to gradually reject the romantic representation of reality, instead revealing their interest in certain objects such as the female body and machines. Leopoldo Lugones was one of the first poets that applied to these themes in some of his poetic works, like Las montañas del oro. Overall, modernista poets demonstrated great obsession with the principles of modernity and made constant attempts to increase the role of a poet in Spanish society. They withdrew from their participation in political affairs, instead transforming writing into a profession. In view of various innovations modernismo was aimed at creating a novel reality and styles of expression. According to Gordon Brotherston, the modernista poets, such as Ruben Dario, Manuel Machado, Leopoldo Lugones, rejected the material obsession that emerged as a result of industrial and scientific achievements, instead revealing true moral and cultural values16. As Paz puts it, “it has been said that modernismo was an evasion of the American reality. It would be truer to say that it was a flight from the local present reality… in search of a universal reality, the only true reality”17. Spanish modernista poets reveal an idealistic treatment of poetry, paying a particular attention to the innovations of poetic forms and themes. The values of these poets appeared in contrast with the existing social norms and were reflected in their poetry.
Modernismo represented a real revolution in Spanish-American poetry, because it was aimed at destroying the isolation of Latin America and at creating a novel discourse that could uncover the concealed truth about social and political situation of the country. However, the spread of modernismo was different in various part of Latin America. In particular, in Buenos Aires and Santiago of Chile, the South regions, modernismo was developed in a fast way, while in the area of Hispanic Carribean the process was considerably slow. In general, modernista poets were in search of the ways to create a language that would reflect social and spiritual discourse, making them closer to European poets.
In this regard, the language of modernista poets is ambiguous. Applying to the qualitative approach it is possible to reveal this ambiguity, because this method provides an opportunity to rightfully interpret the controversial literary texts. According to Taylor, “Interpretation… is an attempt to make clear, to make sense of an object of study. It aims to bring to light an underlying coherence or sense”18. Thus, on the one hand, the language of modernista poets appears as a visionary tool that uncovers reality changed as a result of various scientific innovations, while, on the other hand, it shapes national identity. Due to the fact that these two aspects are closely connected with each other, modernismo manages not only to reveal reality, but also to change the political and social courses established in Latin America. As Gonzalez puts it, modernismo introduces various aspects of modernity and alters Spanish poetry in whole19. According to Ricardo Gullon, “the modernist writer is in first term modern man, and as so he becomes aware of himself as a citizen and believes in the possibility of the political and social reform”20. Ruben Dario and Leopoldo Lugones were the first poets to reflect social modernity and the negative consequences of scientific innovations in their literary works. In their modernista poems they made attempts to combine national identity with foreign features. The following sections provide a more detailed discussion of Lugones’ and Dario’s impact on the formation of Spanish modernismo. 
5.2. Ruben Dario as the initiator of Spanish modernismoAt the end of the nineteenth century Ruben Dario (1867-1916) implemented the concept of modernismo to reflect a new period in Spanish-American poetry. Dario identified modernismo as the trend that corresponded with the essence of his time, when modernity began to influence various aspects of reality. Although Dario is regarded as a nationalistic poet, he is individual in his poetry, bringing up both social and national issues. Ruben Dario rejects the traditional elements of poetry by changing the conventional norms of verse and by introducing smooth rhythms into his poetic works. Simultaneously, Dario challenges and criticizes the reality that is presented in many literary works of Spanish-American literature of the nineteenth century.
Through his poetry Dario rises against the materialization of Spanish life and against the wrong scientific ideals that prevailed in Latin America in that period of time. He also maintains individualism and independence, eternity and dream world; Dario is especially obsessed with beauty, demonstrating that beauty can be found in many displays. He moves beyond traditional portrayal of beauty, paying a particular attention to females’ sexuality as one of the principal images of beauty. For instance, in his poem Rhymes Dario claims, “Out on the sea a swift boat rowing, / rowing: the lover with his beloved, / flying to the land of dreams. / In the sunset light and the million glints / that flashed on the sea, those streaming oars / seemed made of burnished gold”21. This simple verse reveals the beauty of nature and the beauty of a loving couple; nature seems to correspond with their feelings – it is bright and clear, tender and light. However, by the end of the poem nature is changed, as Dario expresses uncertainty as to the future of these lovers: “Their fate? I do not know. I remember / that after a pallid twilight, the sky / darkened and the sea grew rough”22. Thus, nature conveys despair of Dario and the inability of lovers to change anything. Similar to nature that is exposed to constant changes, love also has the beginning and the end.
This modernista poet pays much attention to language and he is in constant search of perfecting it. Musicality of Dario’s poetry and his exotic images inspire other Spanish poets, despite the fact that Dario is more interested in words than in the expressed meaning. Dario’s poetic language acquires power and symbolism; he gives new meaning to simple words and forms his unique rhetorical lexicon that reflects the spirit of Hellenism and Versailles. Applying to various poetic experiments, Dario increases the amount of metrical forms, either transforming classical forms or creating new ones. Dario’s first literary work Azul (1888) reveals musicality and sensuality of his sonnets. It was a real break in Spanish-American poetry due to the fact that Dario managed to substitute a complicated poetic verse of Spanish poets for a simplified and expressive form. In this collection Ruben Dario masterfully combines the symbols taken from ancient literary sources with his own symbols.
Some of Dario’s symbols are the swan that symbolizes eroticism and chastity or centaur that embodies both human and animal features. In this regard, modernismo depends on various influences and literary trends; it manages to combine vulgarity and delicacy, reality and illusion, beauty and violence, extremes and simplicity. Ruben Dario’s modernista poetry introduces many elements into Spanish-American poetry of the twentieth century. In particular, in many poems of Blue Dario applies to the theme of escapism, that is, he escapes reality and involves his readers into the dream world. Dario’s escapism is refined and full of classical illusions. In response to various scientific inventions and reason, Dario creates poems that are closely connected with nature and passions. Although the poet usually depicts such negative feelings as sadness, disappointment, ennui and despondency, they are so expressive that they evoke powerful emotions. In the poem Melancholy Ruben Dario states, “Brother, you that have light, please give me light / I am like a blind man. I grope about in the dark. / I am lost among the tempests, lost among torments, blinded / by fantasies, and driven mad my music. / That is my curse. To dream”23.
Another element of Dario’s poetry that is widely adopted by all modernista poets is the tension between love and sexuality. In his later collection of poetry Songs of Life and Hope (1905), Dario brings up more profound issues of a man and universe, life and death, utilizing irony and bitterness. This is especially obvious in such poems as The Fatal Thing and Youth, Divine Treasure. In this regard, Dario and other modernista poets are often accused of inspiring anarchy in the country, but in reality Dario contributes to the creation of a certain ideological structure in Spanish-American poetry that is closely connected with culture. Applying to classical allusions and cultural images, Dario implicitly demonstrates his cultural tastes. Thus, Jean Franco suggests that “modernismo comes to imply not only a literary renewal under the influence of France but a certain exaltation of taste”24. In some of his poetic collections, including Songs of Life and Hope, Ruben Dario demonstrates his obsession with classical symbols and the images created by Dante in his epic poem.
Dario is in constant search of combining these images with the aesthetic values of modernismo, the poetry with the whole universe. In other poems Dario, similar to Lugones, draws a parallel between natural phenomena and humans’ emotions; for instance, in the poem Nightfall in the Tropics Dario portrays nature through emotions: “Bitter and sonorous rises / The complaint from out the deeps, / And the wave the wind surprises / Weeps. / Viols there amid the gloaming / Hail the sun that dies, / And the white spray in its foaming / ‘Misere’ sighs”25. This verse reveals Dario’s experiments with language and form; and, according to Kirkpatrick, it is in these “experiments, ironies, discordance, and ambiguities, later poets will find the legacy from which they will construct new poetic languages”26. In this regard, Leopoldo Lugones borrows some modernista elements from the poetry of Dario, but he also implements many new elements of modernismo.    
5.3. The influence of Leopoldo Lugones on Spanish-American poetryAlthough Leopoldo Lugones’ earlier poetic works are characterized by the adherence to romantic ideals, he gradually rejects these elements, bringing up the issues and values that are closely connected with modernismo. Despite the fact that Lugones’ patriotic tunes and concise rhyme are not the explicit features of modernismo, his changes in themes and the depiction of certain ideologies through poetry demonstrate the poet’s important role in the transformation of Spanish-American poetry of the twentieth century27. According to Kirkpatrick, simultaneously combining some genres and moving from one extreme to another in his poetic works, “Lugones dramatizes the conflict between modernismo’s formalism and the shift into the twentieth century’s more private sense of poetic language”28. Similar to Dario, Lugones maintains the idea of language perfection, but he regards language as a tool that should be refined. Lugones considers that poetic language should be as much expressive as possible, but “by directing attention to language as a technical instrument, Lugones initiates a dissonant trend in modern Spanish-American poetry”29.
With the help of expressive language Lugones manages to combine various elements in his poems, such as ironical eroticism and the portrayal of landscape, colloquial speech and unromantic scenes. Lugones takes his images from outward things, depicting the changed urban and rural scenery of Spain. Simultaneously, Lugones’ modernista elements reflect his obsession with French literary poetic traditions; however, “Lugones discounts the American setting as being too primitive to allow for the development of a complex and refined expression”30. Although in his early poems Lugones only implicitly reveals modernista elements, he intensifies them in his later poetry. This especially regards Las montañas del oro (1898), where Lugones makes an attempt to combine rather contradictory elements through an allegorical form. It is in this poetic collection that Lugones introduces such innovations as enormous excesses, undisguised exaggeration and bizarre humour that are utilised in his later poems. Introducing various thematic opposites in Las montañas del oro, Lugones manages to achieve integrity of expression. The structure of the book resembles Dante’s poems, revealing that Lugones applies to some classical allusions in his poetry. This is especially obvious in the following words: “I was alone / between my thoughts and eternity. I was / crossing with Dantesque steps the night”31.
In the poem Metempsicosis Leopoldo Lugones combines the powerful images of landscape and animal features to reveal the opposites between two elements: “An evil moon was loosing itself – with its yellow skeleton face / in distances of dream and problem; / and there was a sea, but it was an eternal sea, / asleep in a suffocating silence / like a sick, fantastic animal”32. Metempsicosis is followed by other poems, such as A Histeria, Rosas del Calvario, Oda a la Desnudez, Antifonas, Nebulosa Thule and others that are full of erotic images and the theme of darkness. In his female images Leopoldo Lugones combines both calm beauty of a woman and fierce portrayal of femme fatale. Applying to such conventional symbols of female images as moon, apples, flowers, breast and others, Lugones demonstrates that these images are beautiful, but they embody darkness and destruction.
As a result, Lugones’ female images reflect the desire for possession and desecration: “I want a golden crown to encircle / your heart… and I want you to triumph, naked like a host, in the ideal Easter ceremony of my pleasures”33. Similar to Dario, Lugones’ sexual images are usually connected with various religious images and Greek mythology, – the feature that is characteristic to modernismo. However, Lugones’ images are more turbulent and definite, like in the poem A Histeria: “And so your embrace was like the knot of a noose, / and like glacial floes were your lips, / and bitter wires were my tendons, / and so the enormous stallion was a black wind”34. Thus, Lugones draws a parallel between violence and females’ sexuality; this connection is evident in Los Celos del Sacerdote: “desired crucifix of the weddings / and the triumphant grace of your waist. / like an amphora filled with magnolias, / and the impenetrable iris of your sex, / iris fool of blood and anguish”35. In another poem Oceanida Lugones applies to specific sexual images of Vista that symbolize eroticism and beauty.
Some poems of Lugones’ poetic collection Las montañas del oro reflect the sadomasochistic components that constitute one of the most important themes of Lugones’ poetry. In particular, the poet combines the images of violence and punishment with the images of females’ sensuality: “I shall praise the affection of your embrace, / just as the lecherous ascetic in his battles pulls tight the hairshirt around his kidneys”36. The images of sexuality and violence are repeated several tines throughout the poems, thus repetition is one of the most crucial poetic tools of Lugones. These repetitions, mainly taken from Poe’s literary style, provide Lugones with an opportunity to move from one extreme to another, maintaining the necessary integrity of expression. For instance, in the poem Oda a la Desnudez Lugones constantly repeats the word ‘nakedness’: “Look at the nakedness of the stars; / the noble nakedness of the savage panthers of Nepal, the pure flesh / of the newborn; your divine nakedness which shines like a lamp”37. Leopoldo Lugones implicitly brings up the tensions between nature and scientific discoveries, between reason and myths, between people and environment.
In this regard, Lugones is similar to Ruben Dario who criticizes science and material obsession of his era in his modernista poems. Lugones combines ancient elements with new discoveries of the nineteenth century, evaluating both positive and negative sides of the present. Thus, according to the discourse analytical approach, Lugones’ and Dario’s poetic language is closely connected with the components of social and political contexts38. The poem Hymn to the Moon from Lugones’ Sentimental Lunario reflects French adoptions and is characterized by irony and new metric form. The poem The Cicadas from The Book of the Landscapes is belonged to one of the most modernista poems of Leopoldo Lugones; applying to daily images, the poet portrays them through ironical vision. However, one of the best modernista poetic collections of Leopoldo Lugones is certainly Los crepúsculos del jardín (1905), where the poet intensifies sexual and erotic elements. In this collection Lugones not only utilises many modernista structures and symbols, but he also implicitly criticizes modernismo’s technicality. As Lugones constantly experiments with his poetry, he implements new elements taken from different literary movements and classical literary sources; thus he manages to observe both strong and weak sides of modernismo.
Exaggeration appears the principal tool of expression in Los crepúsculos del jardín; as Kirkpatrick puts it, Lugones “exaggerates certain themes by extending their development too far, or points out certain techniques by explicitly commenting on their use within the poems themselves”39. Thus, the poet creates not one swan in his poems, but several swans; portraying the image of a woman, he does not restrict himself to some features, instead he describes every aspect of her appearance, even the colour of her clothes. Although Leopoldo Lugones initiates the second wave of modernismo in Latin America, he moves away from it in his later poetic works, because he feels that he has already researched this new area and continues to experiment with other literary trends40. Utilising all modernista elements in his Los crepúculos del jardín, he begins to study the archetypal elements of Jules’ Laforgue’s poems. However, Lugones’ later withdrawal from modernismo does not minimize his crucial role in the formation of modernismo.
As Kirkpatrick rightfully claims, “Although Ruben Dario is the undisputed master of the movement, many later poets have found the complex, sometimes troubling, poetic experiments of Leopoldo Lugones to signal openings for a renewed poetic practice”41. The fact is that Lugones’ constant changes of forms and styles, turbulent eroticism and the portrayal of common life attracted attention of many Spanish-American poets. Tensions and ambiguity that are slightly seen in the works of other modernista poets are considerably intensified in Lugones’ poetry42.
5.4. The Legacy of Modernismo Ruben Dario and Leopoldo Lugones as the major contributors to the formation of Spanish modernismo left a considerable legacy to other poets who began to utilise modernista elements of Lugones and Dario in their poetic works. Some of these poets are Ramón López Velarde, César Vallejo, Jorge Luis Borges, Octavio Paz, Alfonsina Storni, Julio Herrera y Reissig, Federico Garcis Lorca, Pablo Neruda and Vicente Huidobro. Their poetry is characterized by expressiveness and freedom, perfection of language and search of new forms, classic allusions and new themes, simplicity of syntax and musicality of words, free verse and powerful visual images. For instance, in his poetic works Ramón López Velarde follows Leopoldo Lugones, combining the elements of eroticism with various prosaic elements. Other modernista poets also utilise prosaic components in their poetry, including Baldomero Fernández Moreno and Enrique Banchs. These poets implicitly apply to Lugones’ method to create opposites; however, they differ from Lugones, using simple colloquial language. Besides, the tone of their poems is quiet in contrast to excessive and exaggerated tone of Lugones. Julio Herrera y Reissig, another modernista poet, greatly resembles Lugones in his representation of sexuality and

Japanese animation and how its been influenced by American culture in the 20th century

In this essay I shall investigate to what extent twentieth century American culture has influenced Japanese animation. I shall examine the history of Japanese film, paying close attention to the rise of animation as an independent art form; determine what facets of American culture have appeared and influenced Japanese animation, including language, pop culture and consumerism; present two case studies of Japanese animated productions that adhere to the American influence; and draw conclusions from my findings.
For my research I shall be referencing literature on Japanese animation, American culture and film history. The case studies shall consist of films by Osamu Tezuka and Mamoru Oshii.
History of Japanese Animation
The Japanese film industry was born out of the fascination with Edison’s Kinetoscope. The Kinetoscope had been first shown in New York in 1894, and two years later the Japanese imported several to their cities. This was a period of celebration and novelty as the Sino-Japanese war had been won in 1895 with Japan forcing the Chinese invasion out of Korea; proving that Japan could adjust to the modern civilization [sic] which less than fifty years earlier had arrived knocking at the closed gates of the country in the person of Commodore Perry. It was the reign of Emperor Meiji, spanning 44 years from 1868 to 1912, which welcomed an era of rapid commercial expansion. In 1897, the Lumière brothers’ Cinématographe arrived with a mixed bill of films including ‘Baignade en Mer’ and ‘L’Arrivée d’un Train en Gare’. This was followed by the Edison Vitascope and its films ‘The Death of Mary Queen of Scots’ and ‘Feeding Pigeons’. These innovative projectors were extremely popular with the Japanese, including the future Emperor Taisho. The public were arriving in their thousands to watch these films and continued to do so for another twenty years. Throughout this period the Japanese were importing films from Europe and the United States.

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It was only in 1912 that Japan founded its first production company; Nikkatsu Motion Picture Company. Established as an independent company under the title Japan Cinematograph Company, Nikkatsu started mass distribution and production of films in the 1920s. This meant that Japan was still dependant on films produced in the West to exhibit in its cinemas in the 1910s. During the First World War (1914-1918) European films were unavailable and to fill the void Japan began to heavily import films from Hollywood. One particular film that was to change the way the Japanese read film narrative was D.W. Griffith’s 1916 feature, ‘Intolerance’. Perhaps the director nost influenced by Griffith in this early period of Japanese film was Norimasa Kaeriyama. Kaeriyama introduced advanced film technique into Japan and helped establish the ‘Film Record’, the country’s first motion picture magazine. His films were heavily inspired by the Hollywood narrative structure and were dedicated to: the introduction of long-, medium-, and close-shots, together with editing principles; the conversion to realistic acting; and the use of actresses in women’s roles instead of oyama (oyama impersonators were previously used instead of actresses for female roles).
After the death of Emperor Taisho in 1926 Japan’s new Emperor, Showa (Hirohito), began to reject the liberal attitudes towards Western influence of his predecessor. There was more emphasis on creating greater armies and a more powerful navy than building diplomatic relations. Before the Great Depression rocked the United States and Europe, Japan had already suffered; this was accelerated by the population boom across the country. Japan now put emphasis into its manufacturing and exportation of goods. Japan’s foreign policy had become one of aggressive expansion; they had seized control of the railways in Shandong, China, but were forced to withdraw after China boycotted Japanese exports. There was unrest in the country as labour unions were growing and dissatisfaction bred. Strikes and boycotts were rife, and this was reflected in the films of the time. Period drama films afforded the public the luxury of escapism while, on the other end of the scale, left-wing ‘tendency films’ that “sought to encourage, or fight against, a given social tendency” played to the nation. This period of filmmaking in Japan proved that the industry had grown up from its humble origins and was establishing its own themes.
The influx of the ‘talkies’ from Hollywood finally pushed Japanese filmmakers to produce their own sound filmes. In the early 1930s sound became the norm for Japanese productions and therefore pushed the boundaries of the industry; allowing directors such as Teinosuke Kinugasa to create lavish dramas that were adored by the public. Suddenly the door was open for filmmakers to adapt historic tales dramatically. These dramas were singled out by the Emperor who saw them as an important tool to boost the nation’s morale, showing the masses how important history was; and how important it was to actually make their own history. The second Sino-Japanese war was not unexpected. The film industry had to develop the skills to produce the war genre. The first Japanese war movie was Tomotaka Tasaka’s 1938 feature, ‘Five Scouts’ (Gonin no Sekkohei). It is interesting to note that this film does not include the pride, nationalism or propaganda that was being released in the United States, Britain or Germany. The story dealt with the lives of five soldiers caught up in a battle that they know they must fight. This narrative development of character over plot is still used in modern cinema, most recently in Sam Mendes’ ‘Jarhead’ (2005).
After the destruction of the Second World War, Japan was forced to rebuild as a nation. The Emperor saw the need to keep the cinemas open (at least those that still remained). Production continued, some unfinished films were abandoned due to their military narrative, and projects that had been discarded before the outbreak of war were completed. The occupying Allied interim ‘government’ announced a list of prohibited subjects, these included militarism, revenge, nationalism, religious or racial discrimination, feudal loyalty, suicide, cruelty, exploitation of children and opposition to the occupation. Editorial power had been taken away from the filmmakers and left with a foreign military presence. Out of this period two important directors were to emerge; Kurosawa and Kinoshita.In 1950, Akira Kurosawa’s ‘Rashomon’ was released. The film introduced new ideas to Japanese, and world, cinema. It was the first film to use flashbacks that disagreed with the action they were flashing back to. It supplied first-person eyewitness accounts that differed radically; one of which came from beyond the grave. The final scene saw no Hollywood resolution with three self-confessed killers and no explanation. His later films included ‘Seven Samurai’ (Shichinin no samurai) (1954), ‘The Hidden Fortress’ (Kakushi-toride no san-akunin) (1958) and ‘Yojimbo’ (1961). Keisuke Kinoshita directed Japan’s first colour film in 1951 with ‘Carmen Comes Home’ (Karumen kokyo ni kaeru). Kinoshita’s work is much lighter than that of Kurosawa and his influences seem to come from French comedies; most notably in the two Carmen movies featuring the ‘stripper-with-a-heart-of-gold’ Carmen. Both these and other films explore the need for a character to leave the countryside and head to the new cities. This was echoed in Japan’s successful attempts to join the United Nations in 1956.
In 1958 the first cartoon feature from Japan was released from the Toei studios. ‘Panda and the Magic Serpent’ (Hakuja den) was directed by Kazuhiko Okabe and Taiji Yabushita and tells of two lovers in ancient China who must battle evil to find happiness. The film combines bizarre supernatural sequences, psychedelic montages and instantly likeable songs. Even though it can be argued that this is the Japanese interpretation of Disney’s 1940 classic ‘Fantasia’, ‘Panda and the Magic Serpent’ heralds the beginning of the Japanese animation industry (anime).
Anime is the term used to describe Japanese animation. Since the 1950s Japan has been at the forefront of not only producing animation but is a world-leader in comic book art, or ‘Manga’. It is best described by Gilles Poitras: “Anime (pronounced ah-nee-may), as defined by common non-Japanese fan usage, is any animation made in Japan. In Japan, the word simply means ‘animation’. While anime is sometimes erroneously referred to as a ‘genre’, it is in reality an art form that includes all the genres found in cinema or literature, from heroic epics and romances to science fiction and comedy.” Whereas anime is what people would refer to as cartoons, Manga is the illustrated storyboards that the reader animates in his or her head. The fact that Manga is read by a whole cross-section of society is notable because it is; simply too fascinating, colorful [sic], and rich a literary medium to be left solely to children”.
The 1960s saw a host of anime films released. In ‘The Enchanted Monkey’ (Saiyu-ki), directed by Daisaku Shirakawa, Taiji Yabushita and Osamu Tezuka in 1960, the story is a retelling of part of the epic Chinese classic, ‘The Journey to the West’, written by Wu Cheng-En in the sixteenth century. This technique of updating early stories was a popular theme in anime and is still used today. However, it was not only the cinema that was releasing anime productions. Japanese television aired ‘Mighty Atom’ (Tetsuwan Atomu) from 1963 to 1966. ‘Mighty Atom’ was the creation of Dr Osamu Tezuka, an influential figure in the early development of Manga. It was the first animated series produced by Tezuka’s television and film production company, Mushi Studios. The initial episode was shown as a television special on New Year’s Eve (one of the most widely viewed evenings on Japanese television) and became an instant success. When the series was shown in the United States the character’s name was changed to ‘Astroboy’ due to DC Comics already owning a character called ‘The Mighty Atom’. The series proved to be extremely popular with children, and sparked controversy amongst parents who, even though the translation was greatly softened and sometimes edited for juvenile audiences, complained that the often dark subject matter was not suitable for impressionable young minds. Some episodes exhibited increasingly dreamlike and surreal imagery. This argument still persists today with the debate on whether graphic violence in cartoons (or anime) can prove detrimental to a young audience.
The 1970s was a time of consolidation for the animation studios. The worldwide popularity of anime had afforded hundreds of studios to be set up to produce a plethora of films and television series. The moon landing in 1969 fired the imagination of the world with more emphasis on science fiction; and that is what the audience wanted. Fans of anime, or ‘otaku’, from around the world demanded new productions from these studios, and in turn the studios delivered new and advanced films. Otaku derives from the Chinese character for ‘house’ and the honorific prefix ‘o-‘. This translates as ‘your honourable house’. It is an extremely polite way of saying ‘you’ when addressing another person in conversation; the writer Akio Nakamori proposed that the term be applied to the fans themselves. Another interpretation, as used by the Japanese media, is that of ‘extreme fixation’, which is probably closer to the truth. Either way it is the fans of anime that have been the driving force behind its success.
In 1971 an animator directed 24 episodes of an anime series called ‘Lupin III’ (Rupan sansei). It was the start of a very important career for perhaps the most important animator to come out of Japan. This man was Hayao Miyazaki. The series ran from 1971 to 1972 and was so successful that a number of sequels were made as well as theatrical releases. ‘Lupin III’ describes the life of gang members in 1970s society. The action targeted the adult audience with its violence, sex, dark humour and contemporary soundtrack. Eight years later Miyazaki went on to direct ‘The Castle of Cagliostro’ (Rupan sansei: Kariosutoro no shiro). The film is a continuation of the Lupin franchise that started with the television series in 1971. The emphasis is on the characters rather than the plot; a trait that Miyazaki develops over the course of his career. Even though the film is far from being one of the best examples of anime from the 1970s, the pace, comedy and willingness to show anti-heroes captures the feeling of the decade. Another example of an anime series that became global was ‘Gatchaman Science Ninjas’ (Kagaku ninja tai Gatchaman). This series originally ran from 1972 to 1974 in Japan before being renamed ‘Battle of the Planets’ when it aired in the United States in 1978. Yet again the re-dubbed, re-edited version was toned down for the Western audience, so much so that the series was moved from Earth to outer space; sequences with a robot (7-Zark-7) were added to patch the ‘safer’ storylines together, make up for the lost (edited) footage and jump on the ‘Star Wars’ R2-D2 bandwagon; exploding planes and ships were always ‘robot-controlled’ and Spectra forces constantly ejected. The original ‘Gatchaman’ series introduced characters that had feelings and motivation; there was character development and ongoing sub-plots. They sought revenge, felt jealousy and fear, had relationships, and got hurt. The villains were unabashedly evil, not misguided. The heroes didn’t always win, at least not completely.It was as if the West was still not ready to embrace anime and Manga as an art form that was acceptable for adults to enjoy. Anime was still widely seen as cartoons for children in the 1970s.
The Japanese animation industry went from strength to strength in the 1980s. It was the decade that saw the Western world finally succumb to the power of anime. This was a two-pronged attack; a Manga pincer movement. For those that still believed animation was for children there was the extraordinary global phenomenon that was ‘Transformers’, and for those that were looking for an alternative cult classic there was ‘Akira’. In 1984, American toy manufacturer Hasbro bought the rights to produce transforming robots from Japanese company Takara. To bolster the sales of their new line Hasbro decided to use anime as the frontline attack on the target audience (children). The result was the extremely successful ‘Transformer’ series. This series led to the production of the 1986 feature film, ‘Transformers: The Movie’. This was the first real evidence of American culture, in its consumer form, influencing Japanese animation. In stark contrast of the ‘animation-as-advert’, Katsuhiro Ôtomo directed the 1988 classic ‘Akira’. The film was soon to become a benchmark for anime in Japan, and across the world. This was a film that was aimed at adults with dark, subversive themes. The futuristic settings of ‘Neo-Tokyo’ were apocalyptic and tinged with doom. After ‘Akira’ it was widely accepted that anime was not just for children.
The 1990s saw anime reach mass appeal as the release of such films as ‘Patlabor’ (Kidô keisatsu patorebâ) (1990), ‘Patlabor II’ (Kidô keisatsu patorebâ 2) (1993) and ‘Ghost in the Shell’ (Kôkaku kidôtai) (1995) by Mamoru Oshii found an international audience; Hideaki Anno and Kazuya Tsurumaki’s 1997 feature ‘End of Evangelion’ (Shin seiki Evangelion Gekijô-ban: Air) followed on where the original Japanese television series left off; and of course Hayao Miyazaki’s ‘Crimson Pig’ (Kurenai no buta) (1992) and ‘Princess Mononoke’ (Mononoke-hime) (1997). The American influence was still rife as the toy industry, in particular the computer and video game market, provided the plotlines to a number of films and television series including ‘Street Fighter II: The Movie’ (1994), ‘Battle Arena Toshinden’ (1997) and the original series of the ‘next big thing’, ‘Pokémon’ (1998 onwards). In 1999, Michael Haigney and Kunihiko Yuyama directed the feature length version of the popular ‘Pokémon’ series; ‘Pokémon: The First Movie’. Whereas the 1980s saw Transformers flood the children’s market, the beginning of the new millennium saw the Japanese revenge. Pokémon originally began as a video game, on the Nintendo Gameboy: The Pokémon game was the platform for the Pokémon brand to kick-start what would become the world’s largest success story in the game-licensing card-collecting business. The video game gave the characters identities, the collection cards gave them powers, the movie added life to the brand, and word-of-mouth spread the news. The Pokémon invasion is still evident nearly ten years later as the television series is still in production, with two feature film sequels having followed the original cinematic release. The consumerism powers of America had truly influenced anime.
American Cultural Invasion
The cultural invasion from the West began in earnest at the turn of the twentieth century. Japan’s industrial revolution had been slow to start but quickly gathered momentum. By 1890 there were two hundred large steam factories where twenty years earlier there had been none; steamship tonnage increased from 15,000 to over 1,500,000 tons in the period between 1893 and 1905; and by 1896 things Western were in full fashion… derbies or straw boaters were worn with formal kimono, the big gold pocket-watch was tucked into the obi, and spectacles, whether needed or not, were esteemed as a sign of learning.” Ironically, the period when Japan found itself bowing down to the pressure of American influence was directly after fighting a war against it. When the atom bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki it was not just the radiation that remained in Japan. Any country that has been invaded will always have traces of the invader’s culture embedded into the normal life of its habitants. The Allied (most notably the American) control of Japan directly after the war was to allow Western influences to develop into the Japanese way of life. This influence was both highly visual as well as subliminal. America saw the clandestine operations there were not only as part of an effort to defeat Japan but also as the ‘opening wedge for post-war Southeast Asia. The Japanese were suspicious of the Western approach to education and the governing of their homeland. The Occupation, they thought, had destroyed traditional Japanese virtues and unleashed a wave of selfishness and egotism. In an interview with the elderly president of a real estate company in Oita City, author Jeffrey Broadbent discovered the feelings of the former owbers of the land: Due to American influence, the heart of our people has been lost – our way of thinking that, if it’s good for the progress of the whole, it’s good to sacrifice yourself… The Japanese strength from group unity has been lost. The other side of the coin is the very noticeable, consumer-led American cultural assault on Japan.The way in which American culture has seeped into the Japanese way of life is what Koichi Iwabuchi writes as: strategies that incorporate the viewpoint of the dominated, who long ago learned to negotiate Western culture in their consumption of media products imported fro the West. Depending on the viewpoint of the individual, culture and life in Japan, and especially that in the densely populated areas, are influenced by the same commercial culture that defines the American way of life today. Japanese streets are now littered with the flashing neon signs that are found (admittedly all over the world) adorning the pavements of any American town or city. Western branding has left its mark on Japan. The American phenomenon of the fast-food culture such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Baskin-Robbins, and other outlets dominate the Japanese urbanscape more than in America. As a matter of fact the first Disneyland outside the United States was built in Japan. Even when taking into consideration the immense popularity of Japanese culture (for example, the growth of Yo! Sushi restaurants in the UK) and the West’s embracing of Eastern philosophies (in this case Shinto and Buddhism), it is safe to say that Japanese culture has been more extensively shaped by its American counterpart than vice versa. If it is indeed true that Japan’s exports of products and manufactured goods far outweighs its imports, then it is also true that Japan imports vastly more information about or from the United States than the other way round.
Japan is today regarded as one of the leading powers in the world especially in the representation of its national media; the Japanese population of more than 120 million people and its economic wealth make the Japanese audiovisual market, along with that of the United States, one of the only two self-sufficient markets in the world. However, this does not mean that foreign popular culture is no longer consumed in Japan; American popular culture has continued to strongly influence and saturate Japan. Japan is one of the biggest buyers of Hollywood movie and many Japanese television formats and concepts are also deeply influenced by and borrowed from American programmes; yet the format is quite often changed to make it more suitable to a Japanese audience: “What was marked as foreign and exotic yesterday can become familiar today and traditionally Japanese tomorrow”. Kosaku Yoshino writes that although Japan has developed a ‘relative maturity’ of its cultural industries, it still hasn’t found itself fully expanding on the exportation of its television programming and films to other regions of the world. This ‘unexportability’ of Japanese media can be explained by the term ‘cultural discount’: “A particular programme rooted in one culture and thus attractive in that environment will have a diminished appeal elsewhere as viewers find it difficult to identify with the style, values, beliefs, institutions and behavioural patterns of the material in question. Included in the cultural discount are reductions in appreciation due to dubbing or subtitling. The biggest media products that the Japanese have managed to export, despite cultural discount, is Manga and anime; but is this due to American cultural influences shaping the genre into a more Western-friendly medium?

Case Study 1 – ‘Alakazam the Great’ (Saiyu-ki)
The first example of a Japanese animation that has been influenced by American culture is the 1960 feature, ‘The Enchanted Monkey’ (Saiyu-ki), directed by Daisaku Shirakawa, Taiji Yabushita and Osamu Tezuka for Toei Studios. It was released in America as ‘Alakazam the Great’ in an attempt to win a bigger audience by moving away from the emphasis of the ancient Eastern tale, the story is a retelling of part of the epic Chinese classic ‘The Journey to the West’ (Xiyouji), written by Wu Cheng-En in the sixteenth century. The title name-change and the subsequent character name-changes point to the influence that America held over Japanese culture at the time. The original story chronicles the many encounters of Sanzo, a monk who travels from China to India to obtain a copy of the original Buddhist scriptures to bring back to his country and teach the purity of Siddharta’s original messages. In Osamu Tezuka’s film the star of the show is not Sanzo but Son Goku, the monkey king. Son Guko is a talented but arrogant warrior that is sent on a journey by Buddha to learn the virtues of humility and compassion. However, when re-dubbed and released in the United States the characters changed.
Sanzo became ‘Prince Amat’ and turns out to be the son of Buddha. Buddha in turn is named ‘King Amo’, Sir Quigley (Pigze), Lulipopo (Sandy), and Son Goku is renamed the titular ‘Alakazam’.
Considering the fact that the storyline was centuries old there is more than a passing resemblance between the character of Alakazam (Son Guko) and the way in which Japan was seen by the rest of the world. In the tale the protagonist is king of his surroundings (Japan in the late 1930s and early 1940s) before he discovers the existence of a people that are more powerful than him. In an attempt to beat them he sneaks into their world and begins a pre-emptive strike against them (Pearl Harbour attack). He is then disciplined by a greater being (America) before being allowed to continue his journey under the agreement that he learns from his mistakes (the Occupation and the subsequent acceptance into the United Nations). I believe the fact that Tezuka decided to use the story to create this, the third Japanese feature length animation, demonstrates an understanding of the ever present American dominance over Japan.
The aesthetics of the production borrow from the American animations of the time. In the post-war period it was evident that the biggest influence on the explosion of Manga style artwork came from the imports of European and American comic books and animation. The most famous being the work from the studios of Walt Disney. Osamu Tezuka was originally a Manga artist before he became involved with anime. His style and technique was heavily influenced by Disney (he admitted to watching ‘Bambi’ 80 times and ‘Snow White’ 50 times).” The studio that he worked for, Toei, strived for that same cross-cultural, cross-generational appeal of Disney, albeit using more Asian scenarios. Considering that he had studied Disney’s ‘Bambi’ to the point of obsession it is not surprising to learn that “Tezuka noted how Bambi’s childish attributes, such as his big eyes and large head, were an ideal way of conveying complex emotions.” The influence of the West is truly evident in this film, and many that followed it.

Case Study 2 ‘Ghost in the Shell’ (Kôkaku kidôtai) (1995)
The second film I am looking at in detail is ‘Ghost in the Shell’ (Kôkaku kidôtai) (1995), directed by Mamoru Oshii. It is widely accepted that anime has been inspired by a number of different factors that draws simultaneously on medieval Japanese traditions, on American cyberpunk styles, and on an imagery of ethnic and cultural mixture (of the sort envisioned in Blade Runner) that never quite evokes any specific human society, but that in various ways hints of the American dream of a multicultural society and suggests the extent to which the American science fiction film has become a key narrative type for much of contemporary culture.” This ‘cyberpunk’ culture has been lapped up by the Japanese and features heavily in Manga and anime. Perhaps the most famous writers and contributors to this particular genre are William Gibson, author of the cult ‘Neuromancer’ and Philip K. Dick, author of ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’, the novel that was the basis of the 1982 classic ‘Blade Runner’.
Both these writers provided a futuristic world that could be further advanced by the medium of animation. The plot of ‘Ghost in the Shell’ parallels ‘Neuromancer’ very closely, except that rather than an artificial intelligence seeking to be free by merging with its better half, an artificial life form (the Puppet Master) seeks to free itself by merging with the protagonist (cyborg Major Motoko Kusangi).
Developing similar themes to Gibson and Dick, Oshii’s interest in mankind’s over-reliance on technology is brought to a logical conclusion in ‘Ghost in the Shell’, which foregrounds fundamental questions about what it is to be human in an increasingly computerised cyberworld, where a computer programme gains sentience and also questions its own function in the acquisition of power, autonomy and longevity.” In ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ and later ‘Blade Runner’ the plot and characterisation are centred on the struggle to determine what is human and what is machine.
It can be argued that ‘Neuromancer’ borrows from modern Eastern culture as the locale is set in Japan, however, it is the significance of the characters rather than the setting that has cemented it as a science-fiction classic. In Dick’s novel, the opening image of the book, comparing nature to technology, sets the tone of this narrative. The protagonist, ‘Case’ is a combination of man and machine; a now common trait amongst Cyberpunk literature and animation.It is this imagery that Oshii has borrowed from the West that has provided the background to his work; ‘Blade Runner’ has been labelled as one of the finest examples of post-noir with its anti-heroes, atmospheric lighting and dark storylines, and Oshii replicates this in his film. He uses sound, and in particular the score written by Kenji Kawai’s to achieve an emotional response from the viewer that is a million miles from any Disney cartoon. He presents ‘Ghost in the Shell’ with the feeling of a bona fide film noir that just happens to be an anime production.
As such Oshii has admittedly borrowed American ideas, themes and culture but he has formed his own creative style out of it. He uses the medium not only to entertain but to put forward questions of morality to an audience that are not treated like children: Oshii develops the form by refusing innocence and indifference, insisting upon only the maturity of the medium. Indeed, while in an accessible, orthodox model, it only advances the case further that all animation is in some sense experimental, even within populist forms.”
From my research I have drawn the conclusion that Japanese animation has indeed been influenced by twentieth century American culture. This has happened side by side with the country as a whole accepting elements of Western popular culture. As early as the beginning of the century under the leadership of Emperor Meiji Japan began to embrace the West after years of being an insular island race. It was immediately after the end of the Second World War, when Japan was occupied by the Americans under General MacArthur from 1945 to 1951, that the floodgates opened. American ‘control’ influenced education, culture and general living. Whereas the older generation saw this as Japan ‘losing its heart’ the younger generation thought of it as a fresh start. This is evident in Japan’s rise to power in the 1960s onwards. The Feudal system of Japan that had reigned until 1868 had been disregarded; the way of the samurai had been supplanted by the power of the microchip. The nation had taken on board American culture and adjusted it for their own purpose. This ability to progress with outside influences paved the way for animators such as Kazuhiko Okabe, Taiji Yabushita, Osamu Tezuka, Hayao Miyazaki, Katsuhiro Ôtomo and Mamoru Oshii.
It is worthy of note that it has not completely been one-way traffic. The Japanese animators have been influenced by American culture (Disney, comic books, Cyberpunk, etc.) but in turn the Americans, and the West, have imported attributes specifically found in Manga and anime. The creative team behind ‘The Matrix’ trilogy, Andy and Larry Wachowski, are Japanese anime fans and were the driving force behind the 2003 animated film ‘The Animatrix’. Advertising agencies in the United States have also picked up on the popularity of anime with the Coca Cola group producing the ‘Obey Your Thirst Voltron’ campaign, combining anime and hip-hop to sell Sprite.Sales of Manga comics and picture novels in North America grew over 40 per cent to $140 million in 2004.
This trend was also boosted when director Hayao Miyazaki won the Oscar for Best A