The Modernist Review #33

We had a lovely summer in the UK. This year it was on a Wednesday. We can’t lie though and say we’re not excited for the sinfully early reemergence of the pumpkin spice latte, which we’re pretty sure T. E. Hulme would have included in his poem ‘Autumn’ had he had a cosy cafe down the road. It’s the last few weeks of being able to take a book outdoors, though, and finish off that summer reading we said we’d do (what’s that joke about managing to turn all your hobbies into chores, again?), and we’re determined to make the most of it before the leaves fall and the madness of school and university term hits.  Continue reading “The Modernist Review #33”

The Modernist Review #32: Book History & Networks

2 August 2021

Have you experienced the joy of returning to your favourite bookshop yet? Flicking through pages to decide what to choose, asking a bookseller for a recommendation, with the smell of paper and possibly the clink of teaspoons and the whir of a coffee machine from the cafe at the back. Maybe you listened to ‘coffee shop sound effects’ on YouTube while you read during lockdown – a lot of that reading was probably on a screen, as librarians (our unsung heroes) rushed to provide eBooks, and publishers limited review copies to digital rather than print. It’s been a strange year for books, and it’s made us here at the Modernist Review leaf back through the pages of book history to a century ago, and think deeply about the networks in which we read and exchange books.  Continue reading “The Modernist Review #32: Book History & Networks”

The Modernist Review #31: Visual Cultures

1 July 2021

In Jean Rhys’s 1927 short story, ‘Mannequin’, we open to the scene of Anna trying to find her way to the lunch room, dressed in the ‘chemise-like garment of the mannequin off duty’.[1] On the cusp between a state of dress and undress, between human individuality and thingness, clocked-on objectification and clocked-off satiation of hunger, Anna and the other mannequins represent a crossroads of modernist preoccupations with visual culture. Rhys traverses the bridge between mannequin as human model and mannequin as static window-dressing with Parisian grace, grappling with the tension between stillness and movement that embodies the ways of seeing and being seen in modernist artforms. In this Benjaminian age of mechanical reproduction, where does the agency lie in visual forms of representation? Continue reading “The Modernist Review #31: Visual Cultures”

The Modernist Review #30: Modernist Festivities

1 June 2021

If the last year has taught me anything, it’s that festivity is a central way in which we sustain our social relations. In the COVID-19 pandemic, parties have gained new levels of attention in the public sphere, with sociability being policed and politicised. We have seen both the positive and negative effects of this: socially distanced or online parties become warm and fuzzy news items, while superspreader events become sources for opprobrium and outrage. Continue reading “The Modernist Review #30: Modernist Festivities”

The Modernist Review #29

29 April 2021

Have you felt self-conscious lately? How very modernist of you. Perhaps it’s because (in the U.K. at least) we are beginning, very slowly, to adjust to a relaxing of the pandemic rules, and remind ourselves how to behave in social interactions, or wear something that isn’t loungewear. Or perhaps it’s because we are more self-aware of ourselves within our working space. No longer is ‘a room of one’s own’ a private domain but open to frequent outside scrutiny on Zoom or Teams. People we may not even know gaze into our homes and wonder at the wallpaper or the chaos or the occasional glimpse of a dog’s tail passing by, and few of us can or want to move to a new abode as often as Elizabeth von Arnim to find a tranquil personal space. The ubiquity of Zoom meetings forces us to look at ourselves within our working space, a dystopian parody of Ilse Bing’s photographic self-portrait – though we’re sure there are plenty of modernists who would have loved the memes about looking at oneself on Zoom, not to mention the solemnity of that yellow halo surrounding the speaker’s box. Continue reading “The Modernist Review #29”

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”

The Modernist Review #27

8 February 2021

At the start of each new year, E.M. Forster used to write a reflection on the year gone by in his diary. We can only empathise with him as he tried to write about 1920, beginning with the sentence: ‘I may shrink from summarising this sinister year’. This is, as the kids say, a big mood. A century on from Forster’s diary entry, it feels kind of like 2021 hasn’t yet started, and 2020 is still dragging its feet and refusing to exit. After all, it’s a new year but the same pandemic. Forster is onto something, though, in using his writing as a way of processing memories of time gone by, and as our contributors show us in this issue, memory and modernism were of course closely intertwined. Forster might have begun 1921 shrinking away from a sinister year, but it was a great year for modernist writing and art. This year, we celebrate one hundred years since Edith Wharton winning the Pulitzer Prize for The Age of Innocence, Proust publishing The Guermantes Way (if you start now, you might finish it by 2022 in time for the next Temps Perdu centenary), Langston Hughes writing ‘The Negro Speaks of Rivers’, Mondrian straightening up lines on his iconic Composition in Red Blue and Yellow, and Picasso painting his Three Musicians. Maybe you’ve been able to spend some indoor time during this pandemic trying to hash out your own modernist-type masterpiece – whether a seven volume novel or a haiku – for people to celebrate in 2121.  Continue reading “The Modernist Review #27”

The Modernist Review #26

7 December 2020

It feels almost an impossible task to end 2020 with a reflective editorial about our year at the Modernist Review. The frequency with which we’ve used the word ‘unprecedented’ in 2020 could be plotted on an exponential curve (as could the amount of time we’ve all spent looking at exponential curves), but it has truly been an unprecedented year. The pandemic has changed the way we live and work; regular trips to the library seem like a footloose and fancy-free memory, and we have all become familiar with conducting classes and webinars via MS Teams and Zoom, waving for slightly too long as we wait for someone to click the ‘end meeting’ button. But by same token the ways in which we are sociable and collegiate have changed, and we at BAMS feel so grateful for the new ways that we have been able to interact. ModZoom has allowed us to meet colleagues from around the world; #ModWrite has occasionally morphed into a #ModBake or #ModCraft as expectations about writing have thankfully ebbed and flowed throughout the year. This week, we are meeting on Zoom for New Work in Modernist Studies 2020, and for the first time we can hear from fellow PhD researchers in different time zones and across oceans. Continue reading “The Modernist Review #26”

The Modernist Review #25: Black Lives Matter and Modernist Studies

9 November 2020

It cannot be acknowledged enough that modernist studies has been slow to respond to urgent calls for reform within white-dominated higher education: to decolonise, to diversify, to include. White modernism has a troubling history of racism. Students, activists and educators have been calling for a reckoning with that history – for decolonisation, diversification and inclusion in the academy – for decades. We recognise the institutional racism embedded within academia that we, the editors of the Modernist Review, have benefitted from, and that more needs to be done in the name of Black liberation in academia. In this issue on Black modernist studies, our contributors have explored the work of Black writers, artists, thinkers and scholars in the making of modernism, as well as how modernism resonates with racial injustices in our contemporary moment.      Continue reading “The Modernist Review #25: Black Lives Matter and Modernist Studies”

The Modernist Review #24: A (Moveable) Feast of Modernism

2 October 2020

2020 has meant, among many other things, spending a lot more time in our homes and, as a result, in our kitchens. Our relationship with food feels like it has changed this year. What feel like distant memories of lockdown bring back the smell of banana bread in the oven, the yeasty squidge of sourdough starters and the frustration at all the unavailable food delivery slots and seemingly-random shortages (who bought up all the flour in the country?). A seriously surreal section of the internet claimed everything is cake (including, we suppose, this editorial), Robert Pattinson sprinkled cornflakes on pasta and blew up his microwave, Boris Johnson banned fast food adverts and asked us to count calories, and the nation found a sudden new compulsion to stockpile tins of baked beans. A quick trip to the supermarket or a meal out at a restaurant now carries its own set of risks. The gnawing anxieties about the state of the world are eating away at us and we’ve all had a lot on our respective plates. 

Continue reading “The Modernist Review #24: A (Moveable) Feast of Modernism”

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