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The Modernist Review #46

1 May 2023

The arrival of the Spring Equinox, now further affirmed by May Day, is often met with relief. Drawing into the longer and brighter days, after the bleak monotony of the winter months, it seems to come with the hopeful promise of creative energisation, growth, and abundance. Even if for you ‘Spring is like a perhaps hand / (which comes carefully out of Nowhere)’ – we hope that this issue of the The Modernist Review comes as a welcome surprise! 

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Book Review: The Bloomsbury Handbook of Radio

1 May 2023

Jenny Kenyon, University College London

The Bloomsbury Handbook of Radio, edited by Kathryn McDonald and Hugh Chignell (New York: Bloomsbury, 2023)

The Bloomsbury Handbook of Radio spans an impressive range of periods, sources, and methodologies. However, it is not only the three essays focussed on broadcasts from the first half of the twentieth century that should be of interest to modernist scholars. A growing body of criticism, such as Aasiya Lodhi and Amanda Wrigley’s Radio Modernisms (2020), has emphasised the importance of transnational and interdisciplinary listening in radio studies.[1] The Handbook creates similarly broad horizons. Here, experimental radio produced by the BBC in the 1930s speaks to modern podcasting’s blurring of fact and fiction. A line can be drawn from the interwar features of BBC producer Olive Shapley to Pierre Perrault’s 1950s recordings of oral history in Québec City, or Andrea Medrado’s explorations of soundscapes and community radio in Brazil in the 2010s. In this way, this volume reveals not only how broadcasts from the past influence current audio production and research but what the future could hold for both radio scholars and practitioners.

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Book Review: Literary Critique, Modernism and the Transformation of Theory

1 May 2023

Andrea Lupi, Università di Pisa

Mena Mitrano, Literary Critique, Modernism and the Transformation of Theory (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2022)

Paraphrasing Nietzsche, the current debates around literary studies could be summarised in the following proposition: ‘Literary criticism is dead. Literary criticism remains dead. And we have killed it. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers?’. Yet, reflections on how theory affects the reading of texts and culture are still prominent in academia. Far from seconding movements arguing ‘[t]he end of the English major’[1], Mitrano’s book engages with the current situation of literary theory and its trends, mostly postcritique, to recover a fascination for the literary text. Moving away from the negative affects and the ‘hermeneutics of suspicion’[2] that have come to characterise the field, the author’s exploration of major key terms – among which critique, theory, language, and tradition – opens with the allure of South Korean artist Airan Kang and her Digital Book Project.

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Book Review: The Edinburgh Companion to Modernism and Technology

1 May 2023

Christina Heflin, Université Paris I – Panthéon-Sorbonne

The Edinburgh Companion to Modernism and Technology, ed. by Alex Goody and Ian Whittington (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2022)

Modernism scholar Mark S. Morrisson (Pennsylvania State University) highlights the relationship between technology and modernism by explaining that, ‘As literature and the arts were transforming and being transformed by […] modernist sensibility, scientific and technological orthodoxies were similarly in flux in almost every field’ (p. 7).[1] The Edinburgh Companion to Modernism and Technology expands upon this phenomenon by acquainting readers with myriad technologies in an intermedial discussion, enumerating how these two concurrently emergent fields paralleled and how technology figured into modernism in specific ways. It is composed of 28 chapters, sectioned into four parts, plus an introduction. It presents an overview of each topic replete with important references, bringing together previous research and threading through their new contributions to these subjects and adding to the ongoing conversation. This addition to the discourse on modernism and technology is particularly necessary, as demonstrated by the volume’s heavy citation of Tim Armstrong’s 1998 ground-breaking monograph Modernism, Technology and the Body and shows opportunities for further exploration of this intersection. Aside from the simultaneous expansion and depth of subject seen here, one prominent distinction between Armstrong’s work and the Edinburgh Companion to Modernism and Technology is the discussion beyond the literary realm of modernism to include the visual arts.

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Book Review: The Reader’s Joyce: Ulysses, Authorship and the Authority of the Reader

1 May 2023

Emily Bell, University of Antwerp

Sophie Corser, The Reader’s Joyce: Ulysses, Authorship and the Authority of the Reader. (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2022)

The Reader’s Joyce probes the impulses, insights and blind spots of a century of criticism to interrogate a paradox Sophie Corser sees as central to the Joycean’s critical landscape: the simultaneous conferring of authority to the reader and to the author. But by whom is authority sanctioned? Is it by the text itself (that is, James Joyce’s Ulysses), the author, or the reader’s idea of the author? These are some of the proliferating questions Corser explores in her engagement with different types of affect – textual, critical and readerly  – and their interactions with one another. Perhaps aiming to offer something of an antidote to what Corser sees as the prevalent strains in Joyce studies today – ‘genetic, historical, and political’ (124) – The Reader’s Joyce is brimming with thoughtful and careful readings.

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The Modernist Review Issue #45: New Work in Modernist Studies

3 March 2023

February is finally coming to an end, and as we get our first glimpses of Spring we at The Modernist Review are taking the opportunity to reflect back on the snowy yet energising New Work in Modernist Studies, held at Loughborough University in December 2022. Our first NWiMS back in person since the start of the pandemic was a huge success, and it was a joy for us to be able to meet so many new people and hear their excellent research. We would like to especially thank Barbara Cooke and Claire Warden for their incomparable hosting (and wrangling us the most delightful conference lunch we will probably ever have). The camaraderie was top notch; the conversation was the icing on top!

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Ageing work in modernist studies: Keynote Q&A with Jade French

3 March 2023

The 2022 New Work in Modernist Studies Conference hosted Jade French, Loughborough University, as its keynote speaker. Jade gave an engaging and informative presentation on both her research into the modernist poetics of ageing and her experiences as an early career scholar. We are pleased to present a Q&A with Jade, covering some of the high points of her keynote. Thank you very much to Jade for her amazing keynote and for taking the time to speak with us for this special issue.

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‘That might leave all the more room for fun’: Reproductive Futurism in D.H Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover

3 March 2023

Beth Campbell

D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover was published in 1928, and contributes to Lawrence’s call for a primitivist regeneration through which he states that society must ‘get back into relation, vivid and nourishing relation to the cosmos and the universe’.[1] The plot centres around Connie Chatterley who struggles within her passionless and sexless marriage to her aristocrat husband, Clifford, who was made paralysed whilst fighting in the First World War. As the novel progresses, Connie begins an affair with Clifford’s gamekeeper, Oliver Mellors, and their ensuing relationship acts as the primary instigator of both a personal and social regeneration within the novel. Continue reading “‘That might leave all the more room for fun’: Reproductive Futurism in D.H Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover”

Modernity, Loneliness and Religion in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘Thank You for the Light’

3 March 2023

Matthew Mullett, University of East Anglia

A short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, ‘Thank You for the Light’ (1936/2012) uses tobacco to explore the relationship between society, religion and the taboos associated with 20th century femininity. Although written in 1936, the story was deemed sacrilegious at the time and was rejected for publication by The New Yorker magazine.[1] It was found by his descendants and accepted for publication by The New Yorker in 2012, finally allowing Fitzgerald’s tobacco-focused short story to see the light of day.[2] The tale provides a valuable insight into 1930s American society, following the excess and optimism of the Roaring Twenties. It is included in my broader research on tobacco in literary modernism, such as cigarettes and cigars in Joyce’s Ulysses (1922), smoking addiction in Italo Svevo’s Confessions of Zeno (1923), or tobacco production in Cuban Counterpoint (1940) by Fernando Ortiz. Tobacco modernism forms a significant part of my doctoral thesis on commodity modernisms.

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Delving into the ‘Prufrock complex’: Corporeal Tensions and Affect in T. S. Eliot’s‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’

3 March 2023

Andrea Lupi, Università di Pisa

First published on Poetry in 1915, ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ is the first literary success of a young Harvard graduate who signs himself as ‘T. S. Eliot’. The poem immediately sparked debate and enthralled many of its readers, including Ezra Pound’s exclamative praise ‘PRAY GOD IT BE NOT A SINGLE AND UNIQUE SUCCESS’ and Louise Untermeyer’s ambivalent proposition that the prompted effect was that of ‘the Muse in a psychopathic ward’. [1] Indeed, the portrait of a man in the throes of middle-age crisis, the unconventional use of overlapping imagery, and the enigmatic opposition of a speaking ‘you’ and ‘I’ led several critics in the attempt to unravel what Eliot himself called the ‘Prufrock complex’. [2] Whereas critics – to quote but some, Frances Dickey (University of Missouri) [3], John Halverson [4], and J. C. C. Mays (University College, Dublin) [5] – have underlined the alienation, dissociation, and fragmentation characterising Prufrock and his complex, through a reading guided by Henri Bergson’s impact on Eliot, I would like to propose instead that ‘The Love Song’ mostly dramatises the paradox of the body, torn between the self and the other, and featuring affective relations and tensions gathering around it. Continue reading “Delving into the ‘Prufrock complex’: Corporeal Tensions and Affect in T. S. Eliot’s‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’”

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