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Dadaism Characteristics Dada Poetry and More

Introduce Your High Schoolers to the art form of Dadaism— As young teens move beyond the basic curriculum in their middle school classrooms and into the vast expanse of high school, their teachers have the opportunity to go beyond the facts of history and into the cultural moments that defined generations. One of those moments is the birth of the Dadaism and the Dada movement, an alternative art movement that confounded the people of the time and has not quite earned the place in history that it deserves.

Dada Writing Prompts for High School

What is the Dada Movement?

The Dada Movement came into existence in Zurich, Switzerland during World War I and emerged in direct response to the harsh realities of living during wartime. Dadaism began with spoken word and poetry, which appeared to be utter nonsense to those of the time.

While today this movement is most well-known for the painters and sculptors that were influenced by it, Dadaism also had a huge impact on great writers of that time such as Hugo Ball, Tristan Tzara, and T.S. Elliot. The exact origin of the Dada Movement can be pinpointed to a night when Hugo Ball recited a Dada poem on stage at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich. From there, the movement spread quickly across Europe and took hold of its residents for nearly a decade.

Dada artists were known to push boundaries and question authority through their unique and often absurd performances and works of art. And, the Dadaism movement strongly influenced and shaped what we know today as the modern and contemporary art movements.

Who is Hugo Ball?

Hugo Ball is known as the father of the Dada Movement. He was a German resident who was born just before the turn of the 20th century, and who was caught in the crosshairs of the first World War. He took refuge in Switzerland, which was a neutral country at the time, and began dabbling in the arts. While the Dada Movement first began as spoken word and poetry, it quickly spread to lectures, dances, and performances.

Dada Poetry Writing Prompts for High School Students

Teens who are learning about Hugo Ball should dabble in the Dada writing form. Here are three Dadaism poetry prompts to inspire your high school students:

  • Dada Poetry Idea #1– Write a poem that does not consist of words. Instead, focus on the sounds in the poem. Try to make your sound rhythmic in nature to convey the meaning of your poem.
  • Dada Poetry Idea #2– Bring a magazine to class and start to cut out the letters in the headlines. Mix the letters up in a bag and place them in word-phrases on a piece of paper. Read this as your Dada poem.
  • Dada Poem Idea #3– Write a poem without using words at all. Instead, choose images that contradict each other and place them next to each other on your page. Display this as a Dada poem.

Dadaism Characteristics

Using the characteristics of humor, obscenity, and whimsy, artists of this time drew on Dadaism to create something new and exciting. And for those looking to break into a new genre or expand their creativity, Dadaism is a great avenue to explore.

Invaluable breaks down the six main principles of the Dada movement below, providing famous quotes and writing prompts for each principle so that emerging writers can understand the movement in all its forms and practice writing in the same style.

dadaism literature characteristics

High school teachers should take advantage of every opportunity to get their students writing in the classroom. Whether you are discussing Hugo Ball and the Dada movement, or you are delving into a scientific discovery in the chemistry classroom, there are endless opportunities for journaling.

Remember to always keep your students writing! Until next time, write on…

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Dadaism Writing Prompts for High School Writers
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