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By P. Caughie

A Poiret costume, a Catholic shrine in France, Thomas Wallis's Hoover manufacturing facility development, an Edna Manley sculpture, the poetry of Bei Dao, the interior combustion engine- what makes such artifacts modernist? Disciplining Modernism explores the several methods disciplines conceive modernism and modernity, undisciplining modernist experiences within the approach.

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Is modernity distinctively a Western project in terms of the ways of life fostered by these two great transformative agencies? ’ (Consequences 174–75) To what extent does this definition reflect the western standpoint of Giddens and social theorists like him—not only as products themselves of the West but also as specialists in western societies and history? Without a sufficient knowledge base in the civilizations of Asia, Africa, and the non-Anglo Americas, is it any surprise that the definitional binary of inclusion/exclusion is profoundly Eurocentric, all the more so when the approach is more nominal than relational?

Their linguistic and rhythmic experimentation, intertextual ‘signifyin,’ Africanist mythmaking, parodic mimicry, revolutionary fervor, and self-identification with the New do not seem to qualify them for literary modernism in most histories of the movement even though these same histories frequently list formalist experimentation, citation, mythic analogues, irony, and self-reflexivity as definitional markers. 21 The metonym Another form the politics of definition takes is the identification of certain figures or qualities to stand for the whole.

Additionally, this combined approach suggests that meaning does not lie exclusively with either the formation of hegemonies or their dismantling. Instead, modernity encompasses both centripetal and centrifugal forces in contradiction and constant interplay. I pose this neither as a concept of historical stages nor as a utopian dialectic. Rather, I insist upon a meaning produced liminally in between, a dialogic that pits the contradictory processes of formation and deformation against each other, each as necessary to the other.

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