The Modernist Review #28: Modernism in the Contemporary

26 February 2021

This special issue of the Modernist Review aims to bring together approaches to modernism that relate to contemporary times. Much in the way that life as we know it has changed since the spread of Coronavirus, modernism grew out of a time of great change in the early part of the 20th-century. Urmila Seshagiri suggests that contemporary fiction is interested in modernism’s defamiliarizing act and the rewriting of “public and private discourses through the violent, surprising, or thrilling erasure of the habitual and the known.” In commissioning works for this issue, I asked contributors to think about the ways in which the ideals and aesthetics of modernism are still relevant today, and what inspirations and techniques we can use to reflect our own realities. In this vein, Orlaith Darling unpicks the ways in which writers June Caldwell and Lucy Sweeney Byrne borrow from James Joyce’s Ulysses in her article Rewriting Joyce in contemporary Irish women’s short fiction. Caldwell shapes Joycean characteristics to paint a contemporary picture of Dublin in her story ‘Dubstopia’, using her main character as a vehicle to explore the city in a similar way to Joyce’s Leopold Bloom. Darling reads Sweeney Byrne’s story ‘Le Rêve’ in the context of Dubliners, both what it borrows and how it subverts Joyce’s own stories within the collection.  Continue reading “The Modernist Review #28: Modernism in the Contemporary”

Somewhere Else Things Are Changing

26th February 2021

Chloe Austin

In that heady summer when the apocalypse seemed to have temporarily receded, I talked my family into a weekend at the seaside. While I sold them on the white cliffs of Botany Bay, I knew my ulterior motive: We Will Walk – Art and Resistance in the American South had opened at the Turner Contemporary in Margate and I was determined not to miss it. Among the range of mediums, subjects and techniques on display were a selection of quilts, most of which were made in a small town on a bend of the Alabama River, called Boykin but more commonly known as Gee’s Bend.[1] Mainly women, the Gee’s Bend quilters are tied by the familial and communal bonds of the African American hamlet where quilting skills have been passed down and innovated upon for generations.

Continue reading “Somewhere Else Things Are Changing”

Book Review: Annotating Modernism

26th February 2021

Julie Irigaray, The University of Huddersfield

Amanda Golden, Annotating Modernism: Marginalia and Pedagogy from Virginia Woolf to the Confessional Poets (Abingdon: Routledge, 2020)

‘Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.’  After a year when teachers have had to adapt to online teaching, this adage sounds particularly insensitive and inappropriate. In the case of Sylvia Plath, John Berryman, Anne Sexton, and Ted Hughes, one can say that those who do can also be teachers. Great poets do not automatically become great teachers, but Amanda Golden’s Annotating Modernism demonstrates how these four put a lot of effort into designing and delivering courses that would enable their students to achieve a better understanding of modernism, as well as the creative process itself.

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Toni Roberts interviews Jesse Ataide of @queer_modernisms

26 February 2021

Toni Roberts

When did you become interested in Modernism and queerness? What was it that resonated with you and how did you come to create the @queer_modernisms Instagram account?

My interest in modernism and queerness is the culmination of a lot of different factors. I come from a conservative, rural, religious background, and until I left for college my exposure to contemporary pop culture was very limited—no television or secular music, and a select group of movies. As an artistically-inclined, socially awkward little boy I found an escape in reading, as well as the visual arts, and, later, classic Hollywood films. 

Continue reading “Toni Roberts interviews Jesse Ataide of @queer_modernisms”

Book Review: I’m Afraid That’s All We’ve Got Time For

26th February 2021

Josie Cray, Cardiff University

Jen Calleja, I’m Afraid That’s All We’ve Got Time For (London: Prototype, 2020)

‘When the rain wept and wailed and hammered its wet fists against the fences and flung itself down on the grass over and over again for two weeks, everyone in the valley was dismissive of it’ (61). So begins ‘Divination’, the fifth short story in Jen Calleja’s newest collection I’m Afraid That’s All We’ve Got Time For (2020). Unlike the rain there is nothing to be dismissed about Calleja’s collection. From a pregnant food writer developing a craving for luxury living to an amateur actor not entirely sure why his performances are so funny, Calleja takes the familiar we find in the everyday and twists it through absurdity, dark humour and the surreal.

Continue reading “Book Review: I’m Afraid That’s All We’ve Got Time For”

Physical impressions and the marks we leave behind; an analysis of Wolfgang Tillmans’ Faltenwurfs inspired by readings of Felix-Gonzalez Torres

26 February 2021

Charlotte Russell, Independent Researcher

Perhaps best known for his photographs of the European youth of the nineties, Wolfgang Tillmans’ vignettes about the lives of the LGBTQ community and electronic music subcultures feature images of people partying in sweaty raves or embracing in open woodland; living together in the wake of division caused by the fallen Berlin Wall. Exhibited across magazines such as i-D and The Face, Tillmans’ photography encapsulated the zeitgeist of 1990s Europe. In 1997 following the opening of his debut London show I didn’t inhaleat The Chisenhale, London, the photographer lost his boyfriend, the artist Jochen Klein, to AIDS. Continue reading “Physical impressions and the marks we leave behind; an analysis of Wolfgang Tillmans’ Faltenwurfs inspired by readings of Felix-Gonzalez Torres”

Rewriting Joyce in contemporary Irish women’s short fiction

26 February 2021

Orlaith DarlingTrinity College Dublin

Modernist influences in the contemporary Irish novel have been well documented, from the narrative fragmentation of Eimear McBride’s A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing (2013), to the stream-of-consciousness narration of Anna Burns’s Milkman (2018), to the structure of Mike McCormack’s Solar Bones (2016). Here, however, I wish to examine two Irish women short story authors’ rewriting James Joyce. Continue reading “Rewriting Joyce in contemporary Irish women’s short fiction”

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