The European Avant-garde1900-1940
The European Avant-garde
This book offers an informative and accessible cultural history of the European avant-garde in its early twentieth-century heyday. It provides comparative coverage of cultural experimentation across the major European languages, including English, French, German, Russian, Spanish and Italian.

Andrew Webber presents striking examples to illustrate a time of unprecedented experiment and energetic performance in all aspects of culture. Readings of some of the most important and characteristic avant-garde texts, pictures and films are set against some of the key developments of the period: advances in technology and psychology; the rise of radical politics; the cultural ferment of the modern metropolis; and the upheaval in issues of gender and sexuality. The author's mediation between a variety of cultural forms, combining political and psychoanalytical modes of understanding, evokes the richness of the age in a manner that students will find both illuminating and provocative.

This volume will be an excellent textbook for courses on the avant-garde in departments of comparative cultural studies, literature and film studies.
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  • September 2004
  • 272 pages
  • 158 x 237 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $72.75
  • 9780745627045
  • Paperback $30.00
  • 9780745627052
Table of Contents
List of Plates.


1. Introduction: The Historical Avant-garde and Cultural History.

2. Manifestations: The Public Sphere.

3. Writing the City: Urban Technology and Poetic Technique.

4. Modes of Performance: Film-Theatre.

5. Case Histories: Narratives of the Avant-garde.

Conclusion: Allegories of the Avant-garde.

Epilogue: After the Avant-garde?.



About the Author
Andrew J. Webber is University Senior Lecturer in German and Fellow of Churchill College at the University of Cambridge.
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‘“This is not a Cultural History of the Avant-Garde”: the section title, teasing Magritte’s pipe, says it perfectly. Like the famous painting, this book is more, namely a beautiful blend of history and analysis, criticism and theory, in my favorite phrase: cultural analysis. If, after reading it, it is as if one sees avant-garde all around, in contemporary culture, this is because Andrew Webber has made sense of the past in terms that reflect the urgency posed by the present. Tightly argued yet generously clear, abundantly illustrated with close readings of specific works yet proposing an unambiguously innovative reading of the early avant-garde as a state of culture as a whole, this book will make you wish you had been among the first to see those trenchant texts and images that shocked the world. Learning about the avant-garde, the reader also learns “how to”: how to read and understand, how to analyse, how to frame those texts that are so notoriously hard to grasp.’

Mieke Bal, University of Amsterdam

‘Andrew J. Webber's superb new book looks at the constitution of the avant-garde in early twentieth-century European thought. Ranging from architecture and urban space to theatre and film, Webber's take on the avant-garde throws new light on its contradictions and complexities. This is a book for all humanists interested in the formation of twentieth-century sensibilities across the entire spectrum of modern cultural life.’Sander L. Gilman, University of Illinois at Chicago

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