The Worlds of Modern Poetry--A Story and Timeline

Welcome to our collaborative timeline covering the worlds of modern poetry. Our goals is to offer a dynamic visual timeline that captures the intersections of modern poetry and its various cultural, political, and artistic contexts.

This timeline is a collaborative effort of a modern poetry course taught at the College of Charleston during the fall 2011 semester.

1900-04-15 00:00:00

Paris Exposition of 1900

The Paris Expo opens. First time, citizens of Paris and the world saw escalators, integration of film and sound, Rudolf Diesel's aptly named diesel engine, and a 60-meter telescope.

1900-04-15 00:00:00

Germany expands navy

The Reichstag passes a law allowing for the expansion of the German Navy. One of many harbingers of a war that was stil over a decade away.

1900-04-15 00:00:00

Max Planck discovers law of black body

Planck's discovery was crucial for his future work with Quantum theory

1900-07-19 00:00:00

Paris Metro opens first line

Inaugurated in July, the Paris Metro's first line ushered in a new era in urban transportation. It exemplified a new urban existence: never before had so many utter strangers been so utterly close. Welcome to the moderns.

1900-11-08 00:00:00

Theodor Dreiser published Sister Carrie

Dreiser (1871-1945) publishes his landmark first novel, Sister Carrie, now viewed as one of the earliest and most important examples of literary naturalism.

1900-12-31 00:00:00

Thomas Hardy publishes "By the Century's Deathbed"

Hardy's (1840-1928) elegy to the century is now more readily recognized by the the title he would later give it: "The Darkling Thrush."

1901-01-10 00:00:00


Oil! The first great "Texas Gusher" was discovered at Spindletop in Beaumont Texas. This would help advance modern technology!

1901-03-17 00:00:00

Van Gogh Exhibit

71 Vincent Van Gogh paintings were made into an exhibit in Paris. This comes 11 years after his death and as Wikipedia states, "created a sensation" among parisians and those visiting. Van Gogh was a post-impressionalist painter and had a huge influence on the art movement in the 20th century.

1901-09-06 00:00:00

Irony of the "Pan" American Expo

In NY during this world fair, President McKinley was assassinated. Despite the close availability of genius advancements like the x-ray, McKinley's doctors used a pan to reflect sunlight on the operating table due to the expo's lack of in-hospital lighting.

1901-11-28 00:00:00

Literacy Tests for Alabama Voters

The new state constitution of Alabama requires voters to have passed literacy tests. This is a direct attack on African American voters who generally didn't know how to read or write. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 suspended the use of literacy tests in states or political subdivisions where less than 50% of voting-age residents were registered.

1901-12-03 00:00:00

Teddy roosevelt wants to curb the power of trusts

U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt delivers a 20,000-word speech to the House of Representatives asking Congress to curb the power of trusts "within reasonable limits". Roosevelt's federal government sued 45 companies using the Sherman Act, which made monopolizing a felony.

1902-04-02 00:00:00

The First Movie Theater In America Opens

The Electric Theatre opens in Los Angeles, California. For 10 cents, the public were treated to "a vaudeville of moving pictures".

1902-05-20 00:00:00

Cuba Gains Formal Independence From America

Under the Republic of Cuba's new constitution, the U.S. retained the right to intervene in Cuban affairs and to supervise its finances and foreign relations. America also leased the Guantánamo Bay naval base from Cuba at this time.

1902-08-19 00:00:00

Birth of Ogden Nash

Best known for his surprising pun-like rhymes, this modern poet first gained national recognition in 1931 with his collection of poems, Hard Lines.

1902-08-22 00:00:00

Still Life with Chair Caning: First Piece of Synthetic Cubism Art

A new type of art called synthetic cubism is acknowledged on this day due to the work of Pablo Picasso. Synthetic cubism threw out the predictable style of original cubism and brought into light a new-found "collage" technique that used reality as a base for construction.

1902-08-22 00:00:00

Roosevelt and the Automobile

On this day Theodore Roosevelt became the first American president to ride in a motorcar when he rides in a Columbia Electric Victoria through Hartford, Connecticut.

1903-07-23 00:00:00

First Model A Sold

Dr. Earnest Pfenning becomes the first owner of a Ford Model A, the first car to be produced by Ford. The company produced 1750 of the machines, which, could reach a top speed of 28 mph, and was advertised as "the most reliable machine in the world."

1903-10-10 00:00:00

Women's Social and Political Union Was Founded

The WSPU was founded which was the leading militant organization campaigning for women's suffrage in the United Kingdom. It was the first group who's members were known as "suffragettes". The organization only allowed female members and created the slogan "Deeds, not words" to demonstrate their determination to act upon what they are saying. Over the next few years the group grow and became a contributing factor to Universal suffrage in the United Kingdom.

1903-12-17 00:00:00


Orville Wright makes the first controlled flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The plane had a petrol engine and a three-axis control.

1903-12-30 00:00:00

Fire at Iroguois Theatre - Chicago

The fire at the Iroquois Theatre in Chicago was the deadliest single building fire in American history. About 602 people died in the theatre. The theatre was thought to be "fireproof" but it is clear that that was far from true. In fact, the theatre lacked essential emergency excites as well as fire extinguishers for large fires. The cause of the fire was a light bulb short circuiting and catching a curtain on fire. Because of this fire numerous safety regulations have been instated that are still used today.

1904-03-26 00:00:00

80,000 Protest in London

Hyde Park is swarmed with 80,000 demonstrators protesting against the British government's importation of Chinese workers to South Africa.

1904-07-12 00:00:00

Birth of Pablo Neruda

Future Nobel Prize for Literature winner, Pablo Neruda was born on this day. Neruda "wrote in a variety of styles such as erotically charged love poems as in his collection 'Twenty Poems of Love and a Song of Despair,' surrealist poems, historical epics, and overtly political manifestos" ( Fun fact: "Neruda always wrote in green ink as it was his personal color of hope" (

1904-08-02 00:00:00

Beginning of Russo-Japanese War

The Russo-Japanese War was "the first great war of the 20th century which grew out of the rival imperial ambitions of the Russian Empire and Japanese Empire over Manchuria and Korea."

1904-10-27 00:00:00

New York City Subway Opens

A major milestone in American transportation, the first underground line of the New York City subway opened on this day and "at 7 p.m. that evening, the subway opened to the general public, and more than 100,000 people paid a nickel each to take their first ride under Manhattan" (

1905-01-01 00:00:00

Wolves Extinct in Japan

In 1905, wolves are officially declared extinct in Japan. Once home to two thriving species, Japan's wolf population dies due to a combination climate change and overhunting. Since this date, wolf sightings have been widely reported throughout Japan, especially in remote regions, yet none of these sightings have been confirmed. In relation to modernism, this change in global fauna draws attention to the bleak dawn of the twentieth century. Half a decade after Hardy uses the longtime symbolic bird as a meek glimmer of hope in "The Darkling Thrush," the wolf - also a deeply meaningful cultural symbol - is declared as "disappeared," leaving behind a nostalgic presence in the psyche of the Japanese as they seek to fill the symbolic "space" the wolf once tangibly filled. Meanwhile, people grapple with the fragments of lost or broken symbols of the pre-twentieth world as they move further into the modernism of twentieth century life and mind.

1905-04-06 00:00:00

Lochner v. New York

In this Supreme Court case, the Court ruled that New York cannot, by law, regulate the number of hours a baker can work in a day or week. This case involved a suit against a bakery owner, Lochner, accused of overworking his employee. This case scandalized

1905-05-11 00:00:00

Albert Einstein gets Relative

Albert Einstein submits his doctoral dissertation On the Motion of Small Particles..., in which he explains Brownian motion. In the course of the year, Einstein publishes 4 papers, formulates the theory of special relativity and explains the photoelectric effect by quantization. 1905 is regarded as his "miracle year".

1905-05-11 00:00:00

Mata Hari has debut in paris

Mata Hari was the stage name of Margaretha Geertruida "Grietje" Zelle (7 August 1876, Leeuwarden – 15 October 1917, Vincennes), a Dutch exotic dancer, courtesan, and accused spy, although possibly innocent, who was executed by firing squad in France for espionage for Germany during World War I. She brought this carefree provocative style to the stage in her act, which garnered wide acclaim. The most celebrated segment of her act was her progressive shedding of clothing until she wore just a jeweled bra and some ornaments upon her arms and head.[5] She was seldom seen without a bra as she was self-conscious about being small-breasted. Pictures taken during her performances suggest she may have worn a bodystocking for her shows, as navel and genitals are not seen even in poses where they should be visible on a nude person.

1906-08-22 00:00:00


Fans of music receive a gift when the first Victor Victrola, a phonographic record player, begins to be manufactured.

1906-09-01 00:00:00

Second Geneva Convention

Following the Russo-Japanese war, the Second Geneva Convention is instituted to protect victims of armed conflicts at sea.

1906-09-01 00:00:00

Satyagraha - Nonviolent Resistance

Mahatma Gandhi's conception of "satyagraha," nonviolent resistance in the face of conflict, is first referred to in South Africa in the Indian Opinion news-sheet.

1906-10-23 00:00:00


An aeroplane of Alberto Santos-Dumont takes off at Bagatelle in France and flies 60 meters (200 feet). It is the first officially recorded powered flight in Europe.

1907-01-01 00:00:00


Cubism, an experimental art movement, begun to take place. It was founded by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque and inspired many other movements in music, literature, and architecture.

1907-01-01 00:00:00


Georges Urbain discovers the element Lutetium, which has an atomic number of 71.

1907-01-01 00:00:00

Alfred Stieglitz

American photographer, Alfred Stieglitz took his photograph, 'The Steerage', depicting the two segregated higher and lower classes aboard a ship set for Europe. This will later be considered one of the most important photographs of the 20th century while also being the beginning of Alfred's relationship to modern art and in turn with other well known artists

1907-01-06 00:00:00

Montessori Education

The first Montessori school and daycare center for working class children opens in Rome. Montessori education focuses on independence and respect for a natural psychological development within children.

1907-08-15 00:00:00

Pavlov's Dogs

Ivan Pavlov started work on his conditioning responses with salivating dogs. This work would eventually be found in psychology books worldwide.

1908-01-12 00:00:00

Long Distance Radio

The radio waves were sent from the Eiffel Tower for the first time. This concept of long distance radio has been crucial to the future of radio telecommunication.

1908-01-20 00:00:00

Dublin City Gallery

Thanks to Hugh Lane, what is considered the "first modern art museum" was built. In 1998, Francis Bacon's work was re-located to this gallery. He proved to be one of the most important modern artist, showing the Hugh Gallery's dedication to being modern.

1908-01-24 00:00:00

Boy Scouts

Robert Baden-Powell starts the Boy Scout movement.

1908-12-28 00:00:00


An earthquake and tsunami destroys Messina, Sicily and Calabria, killing over 70,000 people.

1909-01-28 00:00:00

American military presence in Cuba

The last of theremaining American troops in Cuba are finally withdrawn. Since the conclusion of the Spanish-American War (April 25-August 12 1898), the US maintained a constant military presence in Cuba. This seems to me to be a precursor to American Forgein policy, especially in regards to stationing American military personel in forgeing countries.

1909-04-18 00:00:00

Joan of Arc is Beatified

In the Catholic Church, beatification is the church's recognition of an individual's entrance to heaven and is the third step of canonization. Most literally, it means that Joan of Arc was officially blessed on this day. Her iconic history and significance is popular in the world of art and literature and therefore is important to be duly noted.

1909-07-25 00:00:00

A Heavier-Than-Air Craft?

Louis Bleriot is the first man to fly across the English Channel, or any large body of open water, in a 'heavier-than-air craft.' (This, by the way, is a fancy way of saying the machine pushes air down so that a reaction occurs to push the aircraft up). This event played a large role in the beginning steps of globalization during the modernist movement.

1909-11-18 00:00:00

The US aggressively respond to the execution of 2 American Revolutionaries.

In Nicaragua, 500 revolutionaries are executed at the orders of Dictator Jose Santos Zelaya, 2 of them were American. The US government responds by sending 2 warships. once again this appears to be a harbinger of American Forgein policy.

1910-01-01 00:00:00

First Missle Experiment

Missiles are dropped from an airplane for the first time, when United States Army Lieutenant Paul W. Beck drops sandbags simulating bombs over Los Angeles, California.

1910-02-01 00:00:00

T.S. Eliot Begins Writing "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

Eliot began writing this poem in February of 1910 while still in school at the Sorbonne, though it would not be finished until the summer of 1911 or published until 1915. The poem marks the beginning of Eliot's career as an influential modern poet, and some would argue the beginning of the era of modernist poetry, generally speaking. "Love Song" remains one of the most promient poems of the modern era, and certainly is revolutionary in its content--themes of sexual frustration, decay and mortality pervade throughout the stream-of-consciousness drama.

1910-04-20 00:00:00

Perihelion of Halley's Comet

Halley's comet became visible to the naked eye on 10 April 1910 and came to perihelion ten days after, on April 20. The 1910 approach of the comet was particularly significant as it was the first of which a photograph was taken and also the first instance in which spectroscopic data was collected. On May 19, the Earth actually passed through the tail of the comet itself. Also of note: The writer Mark Twain was born in 1935, two weeks after the perihelion of Halley's comet. He died on April 21 of 2010, the day after the following perihelion of the comet.

1910-05-09 05:42:13

Total Solar Eclipse

A total solar eclipse occured on this date and lasted 4 minutes and 15 seconds. The set of solar eclipses repeat approximately every 177 days and 4 hours at alternating nodes of the moon's orbit.

1910-09-01 00:00:00

Catholic Oaths Against Modernism

The Vatican introduces a compulsory oath against [religious] modernism, to be taken by all priests upon ordination.

The Worlds of Modern Poetry--A Story and Timeline

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