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 2020

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”

The Modernist Review #23

3rd September 2020

The word ‘review’ seems to pop up everywhere in academic life – it surfaces in official emails, looms annually on the horizon, rests at the start of writing projects in literature reviews, is accompanied by edits with peer-reviews and comes alive in reviews of new books, conferences and exhibitions. In modernist studies, we might associate the word with periodicals, and think back to Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap’s The Little Review. The Modernist Review describes itself as a review of the month in modernism. Reviews can act as surveys, assessments, appraisals, reconsiderations and reflections. At the end of a very surreal summer, many of us are reviewing and readying ourselves for what looks to be a challenging term ahead, and uncertainty surrounding online and face-to-face teaching hangs in the balance as we review the ongoing impact that COVID-19 has on our lives and work.

Continue reading “The Modernist Review #23”

The Modernist Review #22

4 August 2020

As we all settle down to the new abnormal, what are the things that are giving you warm fuzzy feelings? For us here at the Modernist Review, it’s the sense of community. It looks a little bit different this year, with our PGR training days and networking afternoons all being rescheduled; instead we’re finding it through our screens, with the sharing of PDFs and archive photographs that we can’t get our hands on in person, and with every buzz of twitter notification that pops up on our phones. Our weekly #ModWrite allows us a small glimpse of people’s to-do lists, opening up a space to share thoughts, ask questions, and post pictures of #ModBake biscuits and cakes. We hosted our very first #ModZoom last week, a Pomodoro-style virtual writing session, and it was wonderful to see the faces of modernists working literally across the globe and tap into some collective brain power. We’ll be here every Wednesday 3-4:30pm, so email us at info@bams.ac.ukif you’d like to join in! Continue reading “The Modernist Review #22”

The Modernist Review #21: Modernism’s Late Temporalities

3rd July 2020

We’re accustomed to thinking of timeliness as a moral quality: it’s rude to be late. There’s the white rabbit clutching his pocket-watch, mumbling ‘Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!’ as the palpable anxiety of missed appointments prompts Alice to spiral. In light of COVID-19, the last few months have asked us to live in one such spiralling deferral. In Pandemic Temporalities: Crisis, Curve, Crip (in a Twitter keynote here) Beryl Pong suggests ‘We yearn for the “Before Time” and prepare for the “After Time”’ even as we know these delineations to be false and the effects of the virus to exacerbate already existing inequalities. Repeatedly, we’ve been told these are ‘unprecedented times’ – but unprecedented for who, in which epoch, under what conditions? Laura Ryan asks this very question in The ‘Late’ Modernism of Claude McKay’s Romance in Marseille, exploring how a novel so ‘ahead of its time’ shows our own times to still be behind. As Ryan puts it in view of the Black Lives Matter protests: ‘Worldwide events today are the result of centuries-old dreams deferred, progress postponed, promises broken’. The urgency demanded of our contemporary moment can no longer afford for our institutions to be late to the party. Continue reading “The Modernist Review #21: Modernism’s Late Temporalities”

The Modernist Review #20: Moving Bodies


1st June 2020

Is the stay-at-home order making you notice your body more? Maybe it’s the niggling aches and pains that are making you miss the ergonomic desk chair in your office, or are making you wish you had one in the first place. Perhaps you’re a FitBit wielding, 10,000 steps per day kind of lockdown warrior – or, like us, you’re feeling victimised by your iPhone tracker telling you, ‘on average, you’re moving less this year compared to last year’. 

Continue reading “The Modernist Review #20: Moving Bodies”

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started