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The movement known as Modernism began in the late 19th century, reached its "pinnacle" in the period of 1910-30. It tried to radically redefine various artforms, especially literature and poetry. Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, Marcel Proust, and Franz Kafka are all considered to be leading lights within the literary 'wing' of this movement.

Modernism includes an emphasis on impressionism and subjectivity, blurring of distinctions between genres, experimentation with fragmented, abstracted, and random-seeming collages. Minimalistic designs are favored over formal ornate theories and also favors spontaneity and discovery.

It should be noted that there is some academic disagreement about the actual definition of the term 'Modernism'.