The Crisis of Language in Twentieth-Century Literature


ACLS Fellowship Program




This historical and archival study examines key moments in the twentieth century when language becomes visible and argued about in order to better understand avant garde writing. This project suggest that the avant garde is directly formed by cultural debates about language, debates that were not isolated philosophical discussion but rather were part of arguments about nineteenth-century imperialism and colonialism. In this study, I explore the possible links between (anti-?)colonialism and avant garde modernism. Beginning with Fanon's assertion that “Europe is literally the creation of the Third World,” I examine the ways that the colonies shaped the language play of the primarily Anglo avant garde, a movement that is often assumed to be mainly indebted to European influences.