modernism. The main use of the term in literary and cultural theory is to denote the artistic production of a period whose parameters are contested, but whose point of greatest intensity is usually set in the early twentieth century. The widest definitions of the term (Berman 1982) would make it coterminous with modernity, stretching from the eighteenth century, or even earlier, to the present day. The consensus, however, is for a narrower periodization, located somewhere between the 1880s and the 1930s (see Bradbury and McFarlane [eds] 1976). Thus, 1922 (the year of publication of T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land and James Joyce's Ulysses) is usually recognized as modernism's annus mirabilis, while a few anomalous examples (such as the later Samuel Beckett) are allowed to fall outside this range. If Modernism can be roughly periodized, however, its definition remains problematic. In general, in the more standard view, the term denotes artistic experiment and novelty, a radical overhaul of existing forms of representation and available traditions and, as such, is seen to set itself against the emerging mass or popular culture of the same period. A further distinction is then often made between modernism and the avant-garde (Burger 1984). However, as the different arts in literature, drama, painting, sculpture, music, the new media of photography and film produced different modernisms at different times, and as novelty was crucial to their definition as modern, there can be no convincing description of the essence of modernism. The roll-call of movements in Naturalism, Impressionism, Symbolism, Decadence, Cubism, Expressionism, Futurism, Imagism, Vorticism, Dadaism and Surrealism all have a claim to be 'modernist', and a single writer like James Joyce might well be said to have employed several of these styles and strategies. Modernism is therefore better understood in the plural, as a range of 'modernisms' (Nicholls 1995).

In addition, many see these varied experiments in form as the response to a specific moment in the history of modernity; an attempt to register the accelerated pace and disorienting rhythms of specifically urban life and its attendant structures of feeling in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. To this end, modernism introduced new contemporary subject matter into 'high' art (provoking long-term censorship in the case of Joyce's sometimes scatological Ulysses), but above all sought to innovate in matters of artistic form. Among the new techniques employed were estrangement, montage, collage, demotic or everyday language, 'stream-of-consciousness' or interior monologue, parody and pastiche, and, pervading all these, a heightened self-consciousness towards the technical means of art itself.

However, the modernist attitude towards modernity was an ambiguous one. Some examples (Italian Futurism, Soviet Constructivism) can be said to have embraced technological change and modernization wholeheartedly. Yet a distaste for the modern age described by W.B. Yeats as a 'filthy modern tide' and T.S. Eliot as an 'immense panorama of futility and anarchy' is equally detectable. The central paradox of modernism is revealed here: in the yoking of daring formal innovation and new content with, on the one hand, radical or revolutionary political positions, or, on the other, with conservative or outright reactionary political attitudes. Bertolt Brecht's Marxist modernism is matched in this sense by Ezra Pound's fascism.

Academic respectability has brought extensive reinterpretation to some favoured writers, while feminism, post-colonial and African-American criticism (Baker 1987; Gilroy 1993; Radford 1997) have pressed the claims of other, neglected figures and movements. A series of Marxist critics, also, from Lukacs and Adorno to Fredric Jameson (Bloch et al. 1977), Perry Anderson (Nelson and Grossberg [eds] 1988), and Terry Eagleton (1986b) have sought to outline the historical causes and conditions of modernism.

A further reaction to the orthodoxy of modernism coupled with a sense that the post-war years were now 'new' has ushered in the phase of postmodernism and its attendant debates. For many this means that the shock and novelty of modernism have evaporated or been absorbed into mainstream culture. At the same time, modernism's radical energies might be said to continue in the transposed realm of theory (Huyssen 1986). Indeed, Jean-Frangois Lyotard, philosopher of the postmodern, suggests that properly understood, modernism continues as the defining impetus in the postmodern. "Postmodernism is not modernism at its end but in its nascent state, and this state is constant' (1984:79).