Little Magazines in Europe, 1921–1938
Chapter Three Being Inter/national
Ambitions to be international were integral to the making of the expatriate magazines, and the sharing of texts across national borders should properly be seen as one key to the wide influence of the modernist movement. This chapter examines how discourses surrounding these cosmopolitan aspirations could be employed to promote cultural universals, as well as to question them, often leading to more radical understandings of the relation between aesthetics, language, and identity. The second part of the chapter investigates how the same rhetoric could be put to use to stipulate a direction for new national, principally American, cultural expressions.
Destabilizing the essentially Romanticist link between nation and culture, the modernists undertook a spatial renegotiation between the concepts of culture, civilization, and nation. Cultural expressions such as art, literature, film, architecture, or photography were imagined as moving in new trajectories, unbound to geography, tradition, or environmental conditions. Technological developments such as the telegraph, the railway, transatlantic steamships, tramways, automobiles, radio broadcasting, and the cinema all spurred this radical recasting and “compression” of time-space relations, disrupting the association between national borders, history, and art.200 Notably, the idea that new ways of experiencing space and motion affected Western civilization was a topic of interest in the little magazines. In a 1922 number of Broom, for example, film director and theoretician Jean Epstein commented on how civilization was affected by new travel possibilities: “A new race of men is born under the glazed waiting-rooms of the railroad stations and on...
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