The Modernist Review Issue #7

We begin this editorial anew. With the BAMS’ elections finished our team has expanded, welcoming Polly Hember and Cécile Varry into the fold. Similarly, a sense of freshness pervades this issue of the Modernist Review. Though it is unsurprising to claim that the notion of the ‘new’ acts as the connective tissue that binds together modernist studies, the articles contained within this issue look askance at newness, rhythm and temporality as a means of asking what an altered perspective might offer the field.

Beginning his review of The Music of Dada: A Lesson in Intermediality for Our Times (2019) by Peter Dayan, Cole Collins (University of Glasgow) argues ‘In the beginning there was music’. What unfolds is a scintillating overview of an equally generative monograph, one that seeks to take music and performance as a starting point in order to offer an innovative conceptualisation of Dada. Collins’ review positions Dayan as an offbeat scholar, quite literally the first Professor of Music and Word, but also one who has taken up sound as an analytic category in order to let us read (or should that be listen?) to Dada differently.

This focus on music and rhythm speaks to Jade Elizabeth French’s (Queen Mary, University of London) empathetic and generous review of Crone Music, the Beatrice Gibson exhibition held at Camden Arts Centre until March 31st 2019 (there is still time to go!). As an artist, Gibson turns the concept of the modern on its head, asking us to consider who is focalised and who is marginalised in the ever-pressing present. In particular, French hones in on the video piece I Hope I’m Loud When I’m Dead to pose an essential question that cuts through the article as a whole: Can you help but move to a pure piece of 90s disco? This, we are sure, is an inquiry that permeates through not just to our scholarship, but to each of our lives.

Life, or lives, become the central talking point for Anne Reus (Sheffield Hallam) in her rewarding review of Claire Battershill’s Modernist Lives: Biography and Autobiography at Leonard and Virginia Woolf’s Hogarth Press (2018), a monograph that challenges our ‘tendencies to equate the Hogarth Press with Virginia Woolf and Bloomsbury and showcases the eclecticness of form that characterizes contemporary life writing.’ In unpacking Battershill’s scholarship on the place of the Hogarth Press and its relationship to life-writing, Reus positions Modernist Lives as a springboard for new scholarship by asking us to consider the richness of the lives contained within.

Riffing on many of the same lives that take centre stage for Battershill and Reus, Kirsty Hewitt (University of Glasgow) offers a nuanced reading of the presence of time in Mrs Dalloway (1925), discussing the novel in light of the temporal theorizations of Henri Bergson and Albert Einstein. In our ever busying academic lifestyles, we hope that you take the time out to pause, reset and read these articles, and that they offer a brief reprieve.

Aside from our usual fare, this month we are also thrilled to release our crowdsourced Community Resource pack. These resources are designed to provide scholars with examples of how to navigate essential, yet often unspoken, milestones in academia: conferences, PhDs, grants, postdocs, jobs, and more. We are incredibly thankful to everyone who submitted to the campaign and hope that this information will be a stepping stone towards a more informed modernist studies based on an ethics of care. 

Making it new,

Polly, Cécile, Gareth and Séan

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