MODERNITY: An Impressionistic Chronology


Philip Jenkins


I have argued that the years around 1900 witness many events that symbolically mark the onset of what we can generally call “modernity”, a new world view. This rough chronology names some of those dates, with some critical books and art-works.


1890-London subway system opened

            Jacob Riis, How the Other Half Lives

1891-papal encyclical Rerum Novarum on social and industrial issues

1892-first major oil strike in Los Angeles area

1893-The World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago; the World Parliament of Religions.

            Duryea, first US automobile manufacturing company

1894-Edison’s Kinetograph

first use of Maxim Gun in combat (Matabele war)

1895-X-Rays discovered

Wells, The Time Machine

1896-critical presidential election in US creates Republican hegemony

            first movie shown in London

            Marconi’s radio operating in London

Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi presented in Paris, pioneers modern experimental theater

            Hearst acquires the New York Journal

            British Daily Mail founded

Henry Ford’s first automobile

1897-Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria

            Curies investigate radioactivity

Stoker, Dracula

Car in Paris-Tourville rally approaches 30 mph

World Zionist Congress, Basel

1898-Spanish-American war

            City of New York formed by merger with Brooklyn

            Britain reoccupies Sudan

Wells, The War of the Worlds

Height of Dreyfus affair in France

1898-1902-Philippine Insurgency against US occupation

1899-Boer War (1899-1902)

            Marconi transmits radio signal across English Channel

            Conrad, Heart of Darkness

            Veblen, Theory of the Leisure Class

Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams

1900-Boxer Rising in China

1901-US Steel Corporation founded with billion dollar capitalization

            Oldsmobile appears on the market

            Marconi transmits across the Atlantic

1902-Owen Wister, The Virginian

1903-Wright brothers achieve heavier than air flight

            Ford Motor Company founded

            Krupps Works founded in Essen

Women’s Social and Political Union founded in Britain

            Exposé of brutal Belgian rule in Congo

1904-electronic valve invented

            Lincoln Steffens, Shame of the Cities

            Ida Tarbell, History of the Standard Oil Company

Chekhov, The Cherry Orchard

            8,500 cars in Britain

            Broadway subway (electric) opens in New York

1904-1905-Russo-Japanese war

1905-aborted revolution in Russia

            Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) founded in US

1904-1907-Herero war in southern Africa foreshadows modern wars of extermination

1906-Britain launches the warship Dreadnought

            Upton Sinclair, The Jungle

US Pure Food and Drug Act

            triode invented

            San Francisco earthquake

            Pentecostal revival in southern California

1906-1911-Constitutional revolution in Persia/Iran

1907-Chesterton, The Man who was Thursday

            Conrad, The Secret Agent

Picasso, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

1908-first specialized cinema opens in Britain

            Young Turk revolution in Ottoman Empire

1908-1909-Great Britain introduces basic elements of welfare state

1909-the Brescia air show

Blériot flies across the English Channel

Ford produces Model T

Marinetti, Futurist Manifesto

1910-Mexican Revolution begins

            D W Griffith shoots first film in Hollywood

Selfridge’s department store in London marks new departure in retailing

1911-Republican Revolution in China

            Walter Gropius’s Fagus Factory revolutionizes modern architecture

Motor buses entirely replace horse-drawn buses in London

1912-The Fundamentals published to reassert traditional Christian theology

1912-Zane Grey, Riders of the Purple Sage

1913-The 16th Amendment to US Constitution authorizes unapportioned federal taxes on income. 17th Amendment establishes direct election of senators.

            US creates Federal Reserve banking system.

Armory show, New York

            The Rite of Spring presented in Paris

1914-Charlie Chaplin’s first film appearance

1915-Birth of the Nation shown

Panama Pacific Exhibition in San Francisco; California Exposition in San Diego

Turks commit Armenian Genocide