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”

Book Review: Form and Meaning in Avant-Garde Collage and Montage

1st September 2020

Alexandra Chiriac, Met Museum

Magda Dragu, Form and Meaning in Avant-Garde Collage and Montage (New York: Routledge, 2020)

Interdisciplinarity is increasingly an academic buzzword, yet successful attempts to master it are still infrequent. Magda Dragu tackles this issue by slicing up a cross-section of modernist production and investigating its every layer, journeying through art, music, film, and literature in an attempt to classify and differentiate the techniques of collage and montage. Continue reading “Book Review: Form and Meaning in Avant-Garde Collage and Montage”

Book Review: Modernism and Its Environments

1st September 2020

Jack Dice, The University of Kent

Michael Rubenstein and Justin Neuman, Modernism and Its Environments (London: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2020)

Within cultural criticism, modernism has in the past been thought of as an artistic movement with a singular and concretely defined set of principles that were either indifferent to, or in some cases deliberately adverse to, an environmentalist conception of nature.[1] From Ezra Pound’s 1934 assertion to ‘Make it new!’ to the machine-cult of the Futurists, modernists were chronicling and at times championing the industrial revolution, urban expansion, and generally what we now think of as the early stages of the climate emergency. However, since the rise of New Modernist Studies and the foundation of the Modernist Studies Association (MSA) in 1998, modernism’s boundaries have been expanded beyond any singular vision and now include more than just the ‘high modernist’ thinkers. Thus the idea of an exclusively ecocidal modernism has become outdated. New modernism’s broader definition of modernism coincided with the arrival of environmentalist cultural criticism, or ecocriticism, in 1992 with the foundation of the American Society for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE). By exploring the connection between these two watershed moments in cultural criticism, Rubenstein and Neuman’s Modernism and Its Environments contributes to a growing movement that seeks to explicitly read these two disciplines into each other, exposing how the traditional view that the two are incompatible could not be further from the truth.

Continue reading “Book Review: Modernism and Its Environments”

Book Review: Modern Sentimentalism

1st September 2020

Jun Qiang, University of York

Lisa Mendelman, Modern Sentimentalism: Affect, Irony, and Female Authorship in Interwar America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019) 

Sentimentalism has always been considered the antithesis of modern womanhood. Observing that American female novelists reconfigured sentimentalism in the modernist period, Lisa Mendelman offers a new understanding of this literary mode by defining it as ‘an evolving mode that transforms along with its cultural moment’ (p. 9). Mendelman, departing from a long tradition of sentimental fiction criticism in which cultural dynamics are obsessed over and artistic qualities are ignored, examines the aesthetic transformations and irony of the sentimental mode. Her book synthesises the sentimentalist subfield of modernist studies with affect studies, an emerging and thriving field. Its hybrid approach of integrating historical and theoretical inquiry, as well as reexamining the relationship between emotion and aesthetics, will be valuable to future scholars in affect studies.

Continue reading “Book Review: Modern Sentimentalism”

Book Review: The Sensuous Pedagogies of Virginia Woolf and D. H. Lawrence

1st September 2020

Michael Black, University of Glasgow

Benjamin Hagen, The Sensuous Pedagogies of Virginia Woolf and D. H. Lawrence (Clemson: Clemson University Press, 2020)

Benjamin Hagen’s study, that shows us what, as teachers, critics, and students, we can learn from ‘sensuous pedagogies’ in the writing of Virginia Woolf and D.H. Lawrence, is supplemented by assignments, the first of which immediately catches attention with its stimulating questions: ‘How do your favourite writers teach? How do they read? How do they love?’(14). Hagen’s argument in favour of a definition of pedagogy that partakes of ‘sensation, emotion, intensity, the body, as well as attachment and relation’ (8) adopts a theoretical approach supported by Deleuze, Eve Kosofky Sedgwick, and Sara Ahmed, to name a few. However, Hagen’s own questions and the open, supple approach taken to the practice of learning and teaching, may also suggest intellectual kinship with Sister Corita Kent and John Cage’s ‘Some rules for students and teachers’ (1967), a text that is both disciplined and accepting. Kent and Cage insist that education is personal and creative, since there is no ‘mistake’ or sense in which we ‘win’ or ‘fail’, but instead only the imperative to ‘make.’[1] Acceptance of personal limitations must be balanced with discipline: ‘The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something.’[2] My own first thoughts and desires, in response to Hagen’s first assignment, led me to go and look again at Corita Kent’s and Cage’s instructions. Hagen wants the ‘sensuous pedagogy’ outlined to be of value ‘beyond modernism’(7). Yet we would do well to remember that the modernist pedagogical instruction par excellence might come from Samuel Beckett: ‘Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.’[3]

Continue reading “Book Review: The Sensuous Pedagogies of Virginia Woolf and D. H. Lawrence”

‘Too depressing for words’: The failure of communication in ‘The Thimble’ and ‘Two Tuppeny Ones, Please’

1st September 2020

Rebecca Loxton, University of Nottingham

D.H. Lawrence’s ‘The Thimble’ and Katherine Mansfield’s ‘Two Tuppenny Ones, Please’, both first published in 1917 in The Seven Arts and New Age respectively, explore the effects of war on civilian life. ‘The Thimble’ presents a woman’s experience of waiting for the return of her wounded husband, Mr Hepburn, from the front, while ‘Two Tuppeny Ones, Please’ is a dramatic dialogue between a ‘Lady’ and her ‘Friend’ during a shared bus-ride. The presence of the war in the civilian setting infiltrates the characters’ dialogue in both stories, and ultimately reveals the failure of language to encapsulate the reality of war trauma. By interrogating language in such a way, Lawrence and Mansfield explore  civilians’ and soldiers’ desires to breach the gulf dividing them, yet the very process of trying to express the trauma of the war through language is rather more unsettling than comforting.

Continue reading “‘Too depressing for words’: The failure of communication in ‘The Thimble’ and ‘Two Tuppeny Ones, Please’”

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started