Make It New! Modernism & the Medieval Presence. Online exhibition


The phrase 'Make it New' is frequently used in defining a key feature of modernism – its novelty – and is often regarded as influential and foundational in the development of modernist aesthetics. Yet when Ezra Pound employed the phrase for the first time in 1928, modernism’s major works had already appeared, and decades would pass before 'Make It New' gained significance and became a catchphrase and slogan. 'Make It New' was Pound's rendering of a passage in Da Xue, a historical Chinese text. Influenced by Christian belief as well, 'Make It New' became a model of change, of renaissance and renewal, in which the new is not simply a return to the old. Drawing on the work of those who have gone before, Making It New is a process of historical recycling, quotation, and re-arrangement.
In this exhibition, you will see examples of modernist writers Making It New, and it focuses on modernists who re-inscribe medieval elements, including medieval forms, themes, and narratives. It highlights the holdings of the University of Otago Libraries, in particular the treasures of the Charles Brasch collection. Please enjoy.


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