Blog 3.10 - Progressivism

Why We Tell Stories — Reading for Theme


       Modernism was marked by the notion that all things could be made new, what’s called a “Progressive Spirit”.  With groundbreaking work in psychology, Totem and Taboo, Sigmund Freud made the argument that society had been indoctrinated by outdated methods of morality (found in the Bible) and made an impassioned plea that culture should be re-invented by loosening long-held assumptions about sexuality and gender roles.  

    In philosophy, Freiderich Nietzsche argued “God is dead”, and, therefore, mankind is free to create a new society based on human intuition and instinct.  Politically, thinkers like Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels seized this notion as they strove to create an equitable society under the assumptions that mankind, left to himself, will create imbalance that favors wealth; their Communist Manifesto, sought to reconstruct society based on the masses (proletariat) instead of the elite (bourgouise).  All this speculation turned to optimism and, at the Turn-of-the-20th Century, contributed to worldwide innovation in art, architecture, literature, and politics. 

Key Questions:

  • What is the effect of Modernism on the speaker and his community?
  • Characterize the binary oppositions (see: City as Container) of this poem?
  • How does this attitude compare/contrast to Martin Dressler?


Write a news editorial (panoramic opinion) reflecting on the contrast between Martin Dressler’s NYC and Yeat’s Dublin.

© Jeff Thomas,