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The Modernist Review #36

6 December 2021

Nothing could be more modernist than the way we’ve experienced time in 2021. How is it possible that 2022 is about to hit us faster than Octave Mirbeau’s car, and yet so many of the days have crept by with the mire of stream of consciousness meticulousness? The festive season is finally upon us, though, and we’re once again trying to sum up a year in the life (Gilmore Girls who?) as BAMS PG Reps here at the Modernist Review. Speaking of festivities, things got busy this summer as we enjoyed all of the wonderful talks, interviews and panels at the Festival of Modernism. This online conviviality came a few months after the Postgraduate Training Day, too, finally back after the 2020 hiatus; we loved connecting online with our fellow postgraduates and learning about all things pedagogy from our illustrious exec and other exciting guests. We’re all about to get together this week, too, for another Zoom version of New Work in Modernist Studies. While we wish we could be raising a glass together in person, we’re delighted that postgrads from around the world are able to join us again this year to share their work.

Looking back at our issues of the Modernist Review this year, connecting with colleagues and hearing about their cutting edge new work in modernist studies has been the overarching theme. We’ve had a record number of guest editors: Rochelle Roberts kicked things off by taking modernism into the contemporary and curating an issue that reminded us how relevant modernism is today; Eliza Murphy brought the party into her issue that asked how we understand festivities in modernism; and Rachel Eames (who finished her PhD on our very own ModZoom!) showed us how modernism and science were interwoven in her issue that ranged from atoms to seashells. Our own issues have taken us from book history to visual culture. We’re always amazed at the work that our contributors are doing, and we thank everyone who has had a hand in taking TMR from strength to strength this year. 

We’re rounding off the year with a medley of write-ups to satisfy the broad range of modernist appetites. Beginning with the visual, Katharina Rajabi’s article, ‘Signatures of all things’: Writing Photography in James Joyce’s Ulysses, explores the ‘complex’ interconnectedness of photographs in Joyce’s 1922 novel and their role in the ‘problem of (linguistic) representation’. From daguerreotypes to ‘pin-up’ nymphs, Rajabi looks at the slippery and paradoxical way in which Joyce handled photography in writing. Alex Braslavsky also points to critical currents of the visual in her review of Ana Hedberg Olenina’s Psychomotor Aesthetics. In looking at ‘the relevance between inner states of being and corporeal movement’, she particularly points towards the recovery of ‘figures often overlooked’. Not only turning attention to the performers themselves, Braslavsky indicates the performativity of reception, too, in her reading of Olenina’s critique.

Shifting in approach, place and text, from Olenina’s Russian studies to Iraqi Kurdistan, we arrive at the second half of Alan Ali Saeed’s interview with Steven Barfield about  teaching Mrs Dalloway. This conclusion to the interview takes a broader view on the contemporary resonations of Mrs Dalloway and its enduring legacy as shaped by its reception in different environments and cultures. In Barfield’s own words: ‘Mrs Dalloway was a far more universal text, in terms of speaking across cultures, than I had originally thought it was. I had a renewed sense of why we should read Woolf’s novel.’ 

In her review of The New Wallace Stevens Studies, Domonique Davies also asks us to think about renewed reasons for reading. This collection reevaluates Stevens’ works and ‘effect[s] change’ in this area of study, taking ‘readers and scholars outside of the traditional philosophical paradigm so often associated with Stevens.’ If this book provides fresh ways of reading Stevens, then Jonathan McAllister looks at revitalising more familiar ground, in the form of the sometimes suspect, or at least under-explored approach of genetic criticism. His review of Georgina Nugent-Folan’s The Making of Samuel Beckett’s Company / Compagnie chimes with the book’s case that ‘genetic criticism allows scholars to offer tentative answers to the questions of how and why we go about’ reading and writing creative texts. 

As we get to the end of writing this editorial, Josh and Bryony are preparing to hang up their hats and wave goodbye to the most wonderful two years of serving as BAMS PG Reps, and, of course, editing this publication. It’s hard to believe that we won’t be scouting out new books to review, or delighting over article submissions anymore, but we can’t wait to see what Emily and Jennifer do with it, and of course, send our warmest wishes to the new PG Reps, whoever they may be! If you’re reading this, and you’re in the first or second year of your PhD in modernist studies (any discipline), and you’re curious about editing TMR and bringing some ideas to the BAMS exec committee, please reach out to any of us on twitter or by email! We’d be thrilled to hear from you.

With that it’s time to round off 2021 at TMR, and thank you, our readers, for being the reason we do all of this! Enjoy the holiday season, whether and whatever you celebrate, and ring in a happy new year.

Best wishes,

Bryony, Josh, Emily and Jennifer

Image credit: Hulton Archive, Getty Images, undated. 


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