The latest entires in our series of conference reviews sees a continuation of the sense that modernism is a discipline which is finding its feet. The term in its current form, as an ‘official’ ‘-ism’, may have been first coined in the 70s in the pages of The Critical Quarterly, but has clearly never been more alive as a descriptor of wide ranging cultural and aesthetic change. Aran Ward Sell’s discussion of the recent Innovation and Experiment in Contemporary Irish Fiction gathering in particular highlights the fact that contemporary Irish writers are still being discussed in terms of legacy that stems from Finnegans Wake. With authors like Eimar McBride now collaborating with institution-led residencies, in her case the Beckett International Foundation, these frames lead to questions about the causality and agency of authorial influence and what role scholarship has in this. Similarly, in Diane Drouin’s review of the International Society for the Study of Surrealism’s first conference, she points out that a reason for Mina Loy’s paintings being unconsidered for so long is related to the fact that as objects, they reside in private hands – raising the spectre of private finance as a potent force as articulated by Lawrence Rainey in Institutions of Modernism.
Kirsty Hewitt’s reflections on gender in Mrs Dalloway belong to a more traditional mode of literary criticism and is a condensed survey of gender across the novel. The relevance of her observations to current interests in intersectional feminism outside of literary studies, however, need no arguing for. Jame’s Gifford’s lively retelling of his archival journey with pulp fiction likewise shows the relevance of modernist studies to all literary forms: his work reveals a highly identifiable ‘high’ modernist core appearing unexpectedly in commercial writings. Suzannah V. Evan’s poems, explicitly in response to Marine Object by Elieen Agar, performs its work the other way around, taking the interdisciplinary and inter-textual nexus of Agar and Woolf as a starting point for new work, which again offers room for reflection on the role modernist studies, as well as modernist texts and art, plays in the continutation contemporary cultural outputs.
These pieces are all important for our own work in that they provide a reason to think about what modernist studies does. In terms of our own activity, we are also very pleased to provide the results of the BAMS 2018 prostgraduate survey. We strive to be responsive to feedback, and would like to thank all those who participated. Drawing on previous feedback from BAMS members and those beyond, in the New Year we have a trio of special issues planned under the auspices of three guest editors: Lilly Markaki will be editing an issue on Modernism Beyond the Literary, Will Carroll will be editing an issue on Modernism and Visual Culture, and Alana Sayers will be editing an issue on Decolonising Modernism. We are excited to be working alongside them. As ever, should you want to write for one of these issues, please email us.
As always we thank our readers and contributors for their involvement with The Modernist Review. Merry Christmas and a happy new year to all of you!