What is modernist studies today? This question has doggedly plagued the field since the ‘New Modernist Studies’ announced itself in PMLA over a decade ago. And yet the answer might no longer be found bound within journals – instead, the accurate response may be the number of bodies squashed into a room at the Modernist Studies Association in Toronto. These attendants gathered to hear a roundtable on precarity, a subject matter that has become the watchword for not just modernism, but all fields of literary study. As the professoriate, like a perennial pop star, seeks to continually radicalise their object of discussion, an ever-growing chasm is apparent: there is no point in reinventing the wheel if you do not have a car to drive. This point was underscored by the roundtable organiser, Alix Beeston (Cardiff University), noting that modernist studies is not currently a hiring field: ‘What does it mean to speak of the future of modernist studies in a year where there are no TT [tenure track] jobs in modernist studies?’
Jon Churchill, Duke University
Nathan Waddell, Moonlighting: Beethoven and Literary Modernism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019)
Beethoven is inevitable. His symphonies sell Kit Kats in television commercials, and wisps of the early sonatas float among bookstores’ shelves and coffee shops’ tables—anywhere erudition is implied. Meanwhile, his likeness adorns countless pianos and desks, always offering a steely appraisal of its surroundings. Schroeder felt this gaze while practicing in the Peanuts comic strip, as have the countless students who glanced at their music room’s posters.