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”

Come Dine With Me: Gertrude Stein and the Performative Act of Dining

7 December 2020

Rebekka Jolley, Liverpool Hope University

Richard Schechner unpacks the often-overcomplicated term ‘performative’. He clarifies that performative as an adjective ‘inflects what it modifies with performance-like qualities’.[1]In this article, performative will be used as an adjective to demonstrate how Gertrude Stein unveils dining as a ritualised performative act within her early plays: White Wines Three Acts (1913) and Turkey and Bones and Eating and We Liked It A Play (1916). This piece is interdisciplinary and draws on a close reading of the texts to establish the performative acts that are unveiled through the dialogue, as well as an enquiry into the staging of these pieces and the inclusion of the audience as part of the performative act. Continue reading “Come Dine With Me: Gertrude Stein and the Performative Act of Dining”

Book Review: Threshold Modernism

7 December 2020

Matthew Chambers, University of Warsaw

Elizabeth F. Evans, Threshold Modernism: New Public Women and the Literary Spaces of Imperial London (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019)

I was researching a small organization which briefly existed in early 1930’s London and I became curious as to how they ended up in the neighborhood where they would regularly hold meetings. After a little digging around I learned that a half dozen of the organizers lived within a 3-block radius of the square they would frequent. This is hardly a surprising discovery (Francesca Wade’s Square Haunting (2020) is worth reading) but it is an example among many of how location matters in the formation of modernist texts, institutions, and networks. For example, James Joyce famously worked out the timing of ‘Wandering Rocks’ using a stopwatch and map of Dublin, and he was not the only modernist writer, as Elizabeth F. Evans has shown, to have considered verisimilitude when structuring a novel: its setting, its action, and significantly, the cultural and geographic locatedness and mobility of its female characters. Continue reading “Book Review: Threshold Modernism”

Book Review: Modernism and Time Machines

7 December 2020

Alexander Jones, Trinity College Dublin

Charles M. Tung, Modernism and Time Machines (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2019)

Time is undoubtedly a central aspect of modernist literature’s depiction of life. Certain modernist texts aspire to the condition of vehicles that move the reader through time, or that overlap chronologies over each other: the backward leaps of involuntary memory in Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time (1913-1927), say, or Ezra Pound’s statement of historical simultaneity:‘[a]ll ages are contemporaneous.’[1] These implications run through Charles M. Tung’s new study, Modernism and Time Machines: ‘Modernism was itself, in many hitherto-unconsidered senses of the phrase, a time machine.’ (p. 2) What he means by this is that ‘the modernist aesthetic called attention to itself not only as a vehicle for experiencing and moving in time, but also as a technique for rethinking that experience and movement.’ (pp. 1-2) The book explores this dynamic by theorising new ways of understanding the ‘time machine’ as both object and approach. Continue reading “Book Review: Modernism and Time Machines”

‘Further confusing such already confusing words’: Lydia Davis’ footnotes to Beckett

7 December 2020

James Baxter, Independent Scholar

This article will consider Lydia Davis’ (1947-) response to the work of Samuel Beckett, revealing her indebtedness to twentieth-century formal innovations, while gently critiquing the (occasionally ponderous) weight of modernist legacies. Deceptively little sustained criticism exists on Davis’ writing; prior to the 2009 release of The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis (a critically acclaimed compendium of Davis’ short fiction that would go on to be awarded the 2013 Man Booker International Prize), Davis’ reputation as a translator would arguably supersede the attention devoted to her highly singular body of creative work.[1] Continue reading “‘Further confusing such already confusing words’: Lydia Davis’ footnotes to Beckett”

Book Review: The Passion Projects: Modernist Women, Intimate Archives, Unfinished Lives

7 December 2020

Eilish Mulholland, The Queen’s University of Belfast

Melanie Micir, The Passion Projects: Modernist Women, Intimate Archives, Unfinished Lives (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2019)

The history of Anglo-American modernism can feel monolithic in definition. Ranging from a plethora of guides, anthologies, curricula and collections to commemorative tea towels, mugs, tote bags and tell-all biographies, the understanding seems to be that modernism was formed by a group of definitive writers such as Virginia Woolf, Ezra Pound, Wyndham Lewis, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, D.H. Lawrence, Ernest Hemmingway, James Joyce, W.H. Auden and Wallace Stevens. The history of modernism appears to be firmly settled in the form of articles, novels and critical commentary in which we come to know writers intimately. We know of their friends, family and lovers. We know from journals and letters every intimate detail about their lives. We know even where they visited and even what they ate and drank. These snippets of life and style are at first unassuming. Amid reading, writing and researching, amongst the frenzy of collating and connecting we fall into an assumption, an assumption that when it comes to a writer’s biography,we always assume that the information we desire will simply be there. Continue reading “Book Review: The Passion Projects: Modernist Women, Intimate Archives, Unfinished Lives”

Abolitionist Feminism Then and Now #2: Eslanda Cardozo Goode Robeson

7 December 2020

Aija Oksman, University of Edinburgh

Eslanda Cardozo Goode Robeson (1896-1965) was an inspirational Black woman; she was a writer, an anthropologist, and an activist for women’s and civil rights, as well as a successful business woman. Goode strongly favoured Black women’s radical feminism over the type of white women’s more mainstream feminism, the latter of which advocated for the rights of women without paying heed to what we would now term ‘intersectionality’.[1] This she considered obverse to the Woman Question, and believed that mainstream feminism was sowing seeds of disunity by excluding women of all classes and races. Goode and her contemporary Black radical women advocated for a new intersectional, inclusive feminism – though ‘intersectionality’ would not be coined as such until 1989 by Kimberlé Crenshaw.[2] Continue reading “Abolitionist Feminism Then and Now #2: Eslanda Cardozo Goode Robeson”

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