Cover for SOLOMON: Slapstick Modernism: Chaplin to Kerouac to Iggy Pop. Click for larger image
Ebook Information

Slapstick Modernism

Chaplin to Kerouac to Iggy Pop

Linking the literary, the lunatic, and the loud

Slapstick comedy landed like a pie in the face of twentieth-century culture. Pratfalls percolated alongside literary modernism throughout the 1920s and 1930s before slapstick found explosive expression in postwar literature, experimental film, and popular music.

William Solomon charts the origins and evolution of what he calls slapstick modernism--a merging of artistic experimentation with the socially disruptive lunacy made by the likes of Charlie Chaplin. Romping through texts, films, and theory, Solomon embarks on an intellectual odyssey from the high modernism of Dos Passos and Williams to the late modernism of the Beats and Burroughs before a head-on crash into the raw power of punk rock. Throughout, he shows the links between the experimental writers and silent screen performers of the early century, and explores the potent cultural undertaking that drew inspiration from anarchical comedy after World War II.


"Admirably organized and beautifully written, it is stylistically uncontaminated by the frenetic lunacy it describes. It traces modernist literary experimentation and coterminous cinematic physical comedy, until the two parallel tracks merge in the final chapter to form a single phenomenon, 'slapstick modernism.'--TLS

"Slapstick Modernism is a study of little remarked aesthetic influences, fascinating for articulating tendencies that should have been obvious (but were not)."--Shepherd Express

"An ambitious book, Slapstick Modernism delineates a new literary sub-genre, arguing that physical humor becomes a way of undermining economic rationalism. . . . Recommended."--Choice

"Slapstick Modernism uses a fresh and innovative methodology to examine the ways comic films influenced the experimental principals of artists and thinkers from the high modernism of the early 1920s through to the Beat generation>"--The Year's Work in American Humor Studies

"The book's central concept is unprecedented and, once explained, it seems quite extraordinary that no one has fleshed it out before. This is clearly a work of scope and insight whose ideas will have considerable applicability."--Juan Suárez, author of Pop Modernism: Noise and the Reinvention of the Everyday

"Solomon not only articulates a new category for understanding literary history, but ranges easily and provocatively across a wide and deep archive to show why that history matters."--Matthew Stratton, author of The Politics of Irony in American Modernism

"An exciting, fresh study. Solomon illuminates the historical relationships between aesthetic modernism and anarchic screen comedy--unlikely allies in an attempt to negotiate, and survive, the sensory experiences of modernity. Brimming with attractions but absent conceptual pratfalls, the book also makes a compelling case for why, when modernism returns to U.S. artistic practices in late 1950s and 1960s, it often does so in the key of Keaton and Keystone. Solomon's revisionist account of modernism as a space of inspired immaturity and embodied lunacy is a joy to read."--Justus Nieland, co-author of Film Noir: Hard-Boiled Modernity and the Cultures of Globalization


William Solomon is a professor of English at the University at Buffalo.

To order online:
//www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/69tqp2zz9780252040245.html

To order by phone:
(800) 621-2736 (USA/Canada)
(773) 702-7000 (International)

Related Titles

previous book next book
American Literary Realism - Cover
American Literary Realism

Edited by Gary Scharnhorst

American Jewish Filmmakers (2d ed.) - Cover
American Jewish Filmmakers (2d ed.)

David Desser and Lester D. Friedman

Wong Kar-wai - Cover
Wong Kar-wai

Peter Brunette

Claire Denis - Cover
Claire Denis

Judith Mayne

The Inquisition in Hollywood - Cover
The Inquisition in Hollywood

Politics in the Film Community, 1930-60

Larry Ceplair and Steven Englund

Into the Vortex - Cover
Into the Vortex

Female Voice and Paradox in Film

Britta Sjogren

Journal of Film and Video - Cover
Journal of Film and Video

Edited by Michael Clarke

Journalism in the Movies - Cover
Journalism in the Movies

Matthew C. Ehrlich

Joel and Ethan Coen - Cover
Joel and Ethan Coen

R. Barton Palmer

Women and Experimental Filmmaking - Cover
Women and Experimental Filmmaking

Edited by Jean Petrolle and Virginia Wright Wexman

Contesting Identities - Cover
Contesting Identities

Sports in American Film

Aaron Baker

Edward Yang - Cover
Edward Yang

John Anderson