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Acrobatic Modernism from the Avant-Garde to Prehistory$
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Jed Rasula

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198833949

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198833949.001.0001

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Make It New

Make It New

(p.163) 4 Make It New
Acrobatic Modernism from the Avant-Garde to Prehistory

Jed Rasula

Oxford University Press

Ezra Pound’s oft-cited 1934 slogan “Make It New” has long served as an unofficial mantra of modernism. But exhortations to artistic renovation had provided a steady background to modern art and literature for several decades by then. For many it meant starting from scratch, an initiative notably prominent after the First World War as many envisioned a new world, a new order displacing nationalist predation with cosmopolitan internationalism. Paeans to the new accelerated after the war, tautological, euphoric, feeding on a momentary energy reflecting not only new forms but a new form of life. After 1929 that optimism was countered by rival applications, booster slogans like the New Deal and the New Germany, as the aesthetic avowal of the new came under assault from reactionary political tendencies.

Keywords:   Make It New, modernism, avant-garde, manifesto, new world, advertising

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