The Assignment: In this assignment you are given two texts, one written in 1921 and one in 1932, one by a poet, playwright, and public intellectual, one by an academic analytic philosopher, also a public intellectual. Both texts are about the nature of the modern world of the interwar period, and both portray the anxious, uncertain state many intellectuals found themselves in during this period. In “The Substitute for Dreams” the famous Austrian poet and playwright Hugo von Hofmannsthal comments on the mass phenomenon of the cinema, offering an explanation for the psychological mechanism driving people into the motion picture palaces in droves. In “On Modern Uncertainty,” Bertrand Russell, the analytic philosopher, presents an historical schema that classifies historical periods by the predominant beliefs about knowledge. In what ways do these two texts display the anxiety and uncertainty of the interwar period? How might the two texts relate to each other? In order to answer these questions you will need to unpack each text and determine what the author is trying to say, how this relates to the historical situation of Europe in the interwar period and how you think these two texts might relate to each other. It will help to begin with Hoffmansthals text. What does this text tell you about urban life at the time? What does it tell you about the modern, European world between the wars? How was this world different from that which preceded it? (Use your textbook and document readings to fill in this background.) What is Hofmannsthals main point about film? What is his main point about modern, European urban society? Next, unpack Russells text. What is his view of this age? Is his view in harmony with Hofmannsthals? Is it similar? Different? Both? …How so? Using these two texts, your textbook, documents, and one other book from the OSU library, discuss the ways in which Hofmannsthal and Russell express the age of anxiety between the two wars. Describe what you think is the general mentality of these intellectuals in an age of anxiety and its sources and use evidence from the two texts, your textbook, document readings, and one other book from the OSU library to back up your description. You Must: This essay is an exercise in historical analysis; as such, it needs to reflect a careful analysis of the texts and convey an argument. You need to exercise your critical thinking abilities and not just summarize the documents. You must make direct references to both of the documents, your textbook, document readings, and one other source from the OSU library in order to back up your points (give page numbers for all of your citations). there is also book readings i have to send to you by via phone because it is not supported when uploading it.
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