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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.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Bloomsbury Handbook of Radio”

Book Review: Becoming T. S. Eliot: The Rhetoric of Voice and Audience in Inventions of the March Hare

1 May 2023

Peter Lowe, Bader College

Jayme Stayer, Becoming T. S. Eliot: The Rhetoric of Voice and Audience in ‘Inventions of the March Hare’. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2021)

‘The more we know of Eliot, the better,’ wrote Ezra Pound on the 1971 publication of the manuscript and associated drafts of The Waste Land, and in recent years Eliot’s readers have certainly seen a great deal more material become available. The published edition of his letters has now reached 1941 while the eight-volume Complete Prose offers an immense archive of previously unavailable material to sit alongside both halves of Robert Crawford’s biography. And, of course, there are the letters to Emily Hale, laying bare as they do the complex relationship revived in the 1930s when Eliot found himself once again close to the woman who embodied the American milieu from which he had found himself, by accident or design, separated by what Jayme Stayer calls “his hasty marriage and permanent expatriation.” Continue reading “Book Review: Becoming T. S. Eliot: The Rhetoric of Voice and Audience in Inventions of the March Hare”

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.

Continue reading “Book Review: Literary Critique, Modernism and the Transformation of Theory”

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.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Reader’s Joyce: Ulysses, Authorship and the Authority of the Reader”

Book Review: The Annotated Mrs. Dalloway

30 January 2023

Han Au Chua, University of Oxford

Woolf, Virginia. The Annotated Mrs. Dalloway, ed. by Merve Emre (New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2022)

It is true that Merve Emre’s The Annotated Mrs. Dalloway (2021) is not the first annotated version of Virginia Woolf’s novel, Mrs Dalloway (1925). There have been others that were published in the last two decades. These include Mariner Books’s Mrs. Dalloway (2005), annotated by Bonnie Kim Scott; Oxford University Press’s Mrs Dalloway (2009), accompanied by David Bradshaw’s notes; and Cambridge University Press’s Mrs. Dalloway (2018), edited by Anne Fernald. In fact, the year in which Emre’s book was published saw the release of a Norton critical edition, also edited by Fernald. Yet what makes The Annotated Mrs. Dalloway exceptional is not the scale and depth of evidence marshalled to clarify ostensibly abstruse references in Woolf’s novel. It is the distinctive array of questions posed by Emre to guide the reader in thinking about the novel’s history, structure, and characterisation, as well as the edition’s seamless engagement with influential and largely neglected debates in contemporary modernist scholarship.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Annotated Mrs. Dalloway”

Book Review: Pow! Right in the Eye!: Thirty Years Behind the Scenes of Modern French Painting

30 January 2023

Henry Martin, National College of Art and Design (NCAD), Ireland

Weill, Berthe, William Rodarmor, Lynn Gumpert, Marianne Le Morvan, and Julie Saul. Pow! Right in the Eye!: Thirty Years Behind the Scenes of Modern French Painting (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2022)

‘I’m stiff-necked, forbidding, and I have a difficult personality’, writes the art dealer Berthe Weill (1865–1951) in her 1933 memoir, published in English this year for the first time in a translation by William Rodarmor for Chicago University Press. [1] Weill’s bark may be worse than her bite, however, for this spritely chronicle also reveals someone sensitive, humble, generous-to-a-fault and humorous. Like the Cubist portraits Weill hoped to sell, this art dealer had many sides and layers. Continue reading “Book Review: Pow! Right in the Eye!: Thirty Years Behind the Scenes of Modern French Painting”

Book Review: Hope, Form, and Future in the Work of James Joyce

30 September 2022

Anna Dijkstra

David P. Rando, Hope, Form, and Future in the Work of James Joyce (London: Bloomsbury, 2022)

100 years after the first publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922), David P. Rando provides an analysis of Joyce’s oeuvre centring on a theme that has not just for a long time remained mostly neglected in Joyce scholarship, but even stands starkly at odds with its general tendency: the theme of hope. By providing innovative analyses of Joyce’s major works, Rando traces the various paths that hope takes in order to present a future-oriented understanding of Joyce that is grounded in ‘socioeconomic material conditions,’ significantly characterising hope by ‘restlessness’ and ‘dissatisfaction’ (p. 1). As such, Rando complements and recontextualises, rather than fully rejects, analyses focusing on hopelessness and pessimism, proposing a dialectical relationship between a capacity for change, and material conditions, in a way that understands Joyce’s work as one large project aimed at the conceptual development and eventual expression of hope. This angle results in a convincing argument for the relevance of hope both to interpreting Joyce, as well as to understanding the act of reading Joyce itself, conceptualising reading communities’ utopian impulses as responses to those seen within Joyce’s work. Continue reading “Book Review: Hope, Form, and Future in the Work of James Joyce”

Book Review: Making Liberalism New

30 September 2022

Aidan Watson-Morris, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Afflerbach, Ian. Making Liberalism New: American Intellectuals, Modern Literature, and
the Rewriting of a Political Tradition (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2021).

When, and what, was liberalism? The question begets another: Which liberalism? Ian Afflerbach’s (University of North Georgia) study documents a midcentury interchange between modernist writers and liberal intellectuals, asking us to parse the genealogy of a modern—or even modernist—liberalism against its classical and neo- variants. If liberalism often plays the role of Big Other to both the academic Left and hegemonic Right as ‘the organizing political grammar of modernity’ (p. 1), an overlooked characteristic of liberal thought is its ‘self-critical intellectual enterprise’ (p. 17). To study this enterprise in its particularity, Afflerbach provides an intellectual history, bracketing the political institutions which put liberal ideas into practice. Continue reading “Book Review: Making Liberalism New”

Book Review: Modernists and the Theatre

2 June 2022

Annie Williams, Trinity College Dublin

James Moran, Modernists and the Theatre: The Drama of W.B. Yeats, Ezra Pound, D.H. Lawrence, James Joyce, T.S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf (London: Bloomsbury, 2022)

Yeats, Pound, Lawrence, Joyce, Eliot, and Woolf: often amassed as the ‘1922 core’ (p. 1) of Anglo-American and Irish literary modernism, these six writers are regularly credited with having defined the aesthetics of the period. However, scholarship on modernism’s six ‘obvious suspects’ (p. 1) tends to spotlight their poetry and their prose rather than their plays. James Moran’s Modernists and the Theatre (2022) seeks to redress this critical neglect by framing this central group as six writers who actively engaged with theatre throughout their lives. The result is an informative study in which Moran persuasively challenges the critical assumption that these writers’ engagement with the dramatic form was ever fleeting, insignificant, or non-existent. Continue reading Book Review: Modernists and the Theatre

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