This chapter sets the scene for the case studies that follow in the rest of the book by characterising the ‘age of modernism’ and identifying problems relating to language and meaning that arose in this context. Emphasis is laid on the social and political issues that dominated the era, in particular the rapid developments in technology, which inspired both hope and fear, and the international political tensions that led to the two World Wars. The chapter also sketches the approach to historiography taken in the book, interdisciplinary history of ideas.
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