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The Modernist Review Issue # 14

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?’ 

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Gilded Grit: Cecil Beaton and the Protest of the Baroque

Samuel Love

Traveling to Cambridge for the first time as an undergraduate in 1922, the photographer Cecil Beaton had things other than his studies on his mind. Watching a stranger in a café, he wrote in his diary that although the man was ‘ugly… he looked as though he had grit; for some reason, that was what I wanted’.[1] Legendarily flamboyant, it is not a sentence one expects of Beaton. ‘Could I, in the event of another war, possibly go in the trenches and fight as others had done before me?’, he agonised- ‘I wanted to ride bikes and fight. I often despise people who do these things, but I wanted to be able to do them’.[2] These anxieties arguably shaped not just Beaton’s psyche but that of many young men of his generation, and saw his early work collide with both deeply felt social concerns and the utopianism of concomitant modernisms.

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