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Futurisms (A comparative history) - Fall 2023

From its foundation in Feb. 1909 through WWII, futurism developed into the first international cultural-political avant-garde. Its aim was a revolutionary transformation of all spheres of life and its influence extended to the whole of Europe, parts of Asia, and the Americas. Combating the tradi­tionalism of turn-of-the-century European culture, the move­ment sought to found a cosmopolitan (but nationalist) countercul­ture based on the exaltation of youth, speed, violent revolt, innovation, and expe­ri­menta­tion. Hence the move­ment's name: the label "Future-ism" denoting at once adoration of the new and struggle against the prevalence of "past-ism" or passatismo (the idolatry of the past). In its first decade of ex­is­tence Futurism became the first full-fledged cultural/political avant-garde of our cen­tury, ga­ther­ing together pain­ters, musi­cians, archi­tects, political revo­lu­tion­aries, and poets from seve­ral European nations. A key progenitor of later move­ments such as Dada­, Vorticism, and Sur­real­ism, Fu­tur­ism had a powerful forma­tive influence not only on the cul­tural atmo­s­phere of Italy during the Fascist era (1922-1945), but also on 20th century cul­ture as a whole.

For more information about this course, visit the Harvard University Course Catalog.