At the Newberry Library this semester, I am looking to combine at least one of the seminar's themes with my love for modernist literature in order to create a satisfactory research project. Given that technology played a significant role in shaping the anxieties and fragmentation prominent during the early twentieth century, especially during the 1920s, examining the effects and consequences of the technological boom on modernist literature appears to be a logical option. In particular, I think Sophie Treadwell's play, Machinal, and Fernand Leger's short film, Le Ballet Mecanique, both offer rich fodder for an examination of the effects of technology on artists and, subsequently, their art. Machinal concerns itself with a young unnamed woman who attempts to escape technology in her office only to find that people, including her own husband, and even herself have become machines while Ballet Mecanique's eclectic nature poignantly illustrates the fragmentation and confusion that technology and machines can cause, as the music and images in the short film are extremely unsettling, even in the vastly technological twenty-first century.
I am still toying with my research question as well as the pieces that I would like to include in my research besides Machinal and Ballet Mecanique, but I would like to examine a span of literature and film so I can potentially trace the changes in technology's effects as the new century progressed. As a result, my tentative, and very broad, preliminary research question is as follows: How did technology help to shape the landscape of modernist literature and film?
For anyone interested in watching Ballet Mecanique, the link is below: