Theorizing the Avant-Garde: Modernism, Expressionism, and the Problem of Postmodernity

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In Modernism, Expressionism and Theories of the Avant Garde, Richard Murphy mobilises theories of the postmodern to challenge our understanding of the avant-garde. He assesses the importance of the avant-garde for contemporary culture and for the debates among theorists of postmodernism such as Jameson, Eagleton, Lyotard and Habermas. Murphy reconsiders the classic formulation of the avant-garde in Lukacs and Bloch, especially their discussion of aesthetic autonomy, and investigates the relationship between art and politics via a discussion of Marcuse, Adorno and Benjamin. Combining close textual readings of a wide range of films as well as works of literature, it draws on a rich array of critical theories, such as those of Bakhtin, Todorov, MacCabe, Belsey and Raymond Williams. This interdisciplinary project will appeal to all those interested in modernist and avant-garde movements of the early twentieth century, and provides a critical rethinking of the present-day controversy regarding postmodernity.