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American Passages: A Literary Survey

Modernist Portraits – Timeline

This timeline places literary publications (in black) in their historical contexts (in red).


– Gertrude Stein, Tender Buttons (1914)
– Wallace Stevens, “Sunday Morning” (1915)
– Susan Glaspell, Trifles (1916)
– Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio (1919)
The Great Migration begins, prompting over 4,800,000 World War I (1914-18)
Modernism in the arts begins around this time; artists and writers take new approaches to their work, often denying historical meanings and methods
America officially enters World War I (1917)
The 18th Amendment, also called the Volstead Act, is created, beginning Prohibition, which outlaws “the manufacture, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors” (1919)

[4022] Marcel Duchamp, Nude Descending a Staircase (No. 2) (1912), courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Abstract painting exhibited at the Armory Show in New York in 1913. American audiences criticized and ridiculed the work, an example of cubism, a painting trend that incorporated fragmentation and geometrical shapes.

[6973] Central News Photo Service, Another Sort Of War Ruin – After Several Days In The Trenches (1918) courtesy of Library of Congress [LC-USZ62-115013].


– Marianne Moore, “Poetry” (1921)
– Hart Crane, “Chaplinesque” (1921), The Bridge (1926)
– F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Winter Dreams” (1922), The Great Gatsby (1925)
– Wallace Stevens, “The Emperor of Ice-Cream” (1923)
– Gertrude Stein, The Making of Americans (1925)
– Nella Larsen, Quicksand (1928)
– Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms (1929)
Women gain the right to vote (1920)
Immigration controls are introduced, making it more difficult to enter the United States (1921)
Congress officially makes Native Americans U.S. citizens (1924)
The first talking film is created, The Jazz Singer (1927)
Wall Street stock market crash spurs the Great Depression (1929)

[7477] Anonymous, The New Ford Roadster (1927-1934) courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Wittemann Collection [LC-USZC4-2695].


– F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Babylon Revisited” (1931), Tender Is the Night (1934)
– Wallace Stevens, “The Snow Man,” “Disillusionment of Ten O’Clock,” “Gubbinal,” “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” (1931)
– John Dos Passos, The Big Money (1936)
– Ernest Hemingway, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” (1936)
Franklin Delano Roosevelt is president; in 1933 he begins to implement the “New Deal” (1933-45)
The 18th Amendment is repealed to provide jobs (1933)
World War II (1939-45)


– Marianne Moore, “Nevertheless” (1941), “In Distrust of Merits” (1944)
The Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, prompting the United States to enter World War II (1941)