Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Kathy Lou Schultz
During the first quarter of the twentieth century, a veritable manifesto-craze in the arts swept across Europe and the Americas. Inaugurated by F.T. Marinettis Founding and Manifesto of Futurism (1909), this phenomenon saw the publication of thousands of manifesto texts and parodic manifestos announcing new aesthetic theories and movements in the form of bombastic and often incredulous rhetoric. This dissertation intervenes in the extant body of literary criticism on the subject of this phenomenon. It argues that, contrary to current analytic trends, these manifestos were irreducible to their generic antecedents in the realm of politics. Rather than seeking legitimacy for their artistic programs in the same way political manifestos seek legitimacy for and subscription to their political programs, the authors of these texts sought legitimacy through a paradoxical process of delegitimizing themselves, by appropriating a confluence of comedic framing, rhetoric, and performance specific to burgeoning forms of entertainment unique to early twentieth-century popular culture. Assessing the modern aesthetic manifesto with this internal cultural logic in mind, the project interrogates the genesis, popularization, and decline of the genre at its origin-point in Belle poque Paris. In what unfolds as a narrative of cultural actors, events, and reflexive relations, the project attends to the manifestos popular reception in and appropriation of the theater, the press, cultural memory, and the visual arts, respectively. The genres participation in each of these popular forms, I argue, expose a calculated invocation of the affective, innervating anxious indeterminacy between the serious and non-serious on the part of manifesto authors in order to gain public attention, effectively inculcating in the manifesto a new modality of popular entertainment.
Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest
Leet, Stephen Everett, "Laughing Revolutions: The Popular Culture of Modern Aesthetic Manifestos" (2019). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 2634.