Dada Culture: Critical Texts on the Avant-Garde

By Dafydd Jones | Go to book overview

Short preface

Critically thinking the currency of Dada in the twenty-first century like Peter Sinfield's schizoid man is imperative if Dada is to secure any continuity and relevance beyond its narrow, if not parenthetic, historical moment at the start of the twentieth. Moving towards realisation of such a project, the present volume was first conceptually outlined as part of a presentation addressing theoretical virtuality in visual culture (instanced, on that occasion, in the 1930s' drawings and relief constructions of British modernist and Surrealist Ceri Richards works that made a marked impression on Hans Arp when he visited Richards's London studio in 1937) during an otherwise fruitless visit to the University of Leeds in late 2002. The following summer, a number of papers addressing Dada and the idea of the avant-garde directly, and attempting a critical recontextualising of Dada, were presented at the Sixth International Literature and Humanities Conference at Eastern Mediterranean University in Famagusta, signalling how the address of twenty-first century Dada would necessarily and simultaneously come from a range of disciplines within the humanities. Prompted by Dietrich Scheunemann to whom, in his absence, this volume is heavily indebted the guiding principle of Klaus Beekman at Rodopi Verlag served then to direct a body of work that in the twelve months following had diversified and at once clarified the terms, range and ultimately limit of the scope here presented, and which now constitutes part of the ongoing response to the call for

a new approach towards a comprehensive assessment of the
avant-garde [which will] confront more clearly the complex
and often contradictory nature of the avant-garde's manifestations
and its theoretical discourses [in the] attempt to provide initial
outlines of alternative approaches and put forward first proposals
of a revised practice of interpretation. (Scheunemann 2000: 9-10)

The birth of two daughters to the Jones household during the two years outlined above not only confirmed the theory that “dada” (and “mama” too) is indeed a developmental milestone linguistically, but proved also a constant reminder that there was a book on Dada pressing. The book, in turn, owes to individuals whose participation has been both directly and indirectly foundational. I most sincerely wish

-7-

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