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The Modernist Review #36

6 December 2021

Nothing could be more modernist than the way we’ve experienced time in 2021. How is it possible that 2022 is about to hit us faster than Octave Mirbeau’s car, and yet so many of the days have crept by with the mire of stream of consciousness meticulousness? The festive season is finally upon us, though, and we’re once again trying to sum up a year in the life (Gilmore Girls who?) as BAMS PG Reps here at the Modernist Review. Speaking of festivities, things got busy this summer as we enjoyed all of the wonderful talks, interviews and panels at the Festival of Modernism. This online conviviality came a few months after the Postgraduate Training Day, too, finally back after the 2020 hiatus; we loved connecting online with our fellow postgraduates and learning about all things pedagogy from our illustrious exec and other exciting guests. We’re all about to get together this week, too, for another Zoom version of New Work in Modernist Studies. While we wish we could be raising a glass together in person, we’re delighted that postgrads from around the world are able to join us again this year to share their work. Continue reading “The Modernist Review #36”

Reflections on Teaching Mrs Dalloway in Iraqi Kurdistan: An Interview with Steven Barfield (Part 2)

6 December 2021

Alan Ali Saeed, Sulaimani University, and Steven Barfield, London South Bank University

In Part I of this interview, published in our October issue, Steven Barfield and Alan Ali Saeed discussed the students of Sulaimani University’s interactions with Mrs Dalloway and with modernism more broadly. In this second and final part of the interview, the pair discuss the wider contemporary resonances of identity in Mrs Dalloway with transcultural perspectives, and the pedagogical methods which inform this. Continue reading “Reflections on Teaching Mrs Dalloway in Iraqi Kurdistan: An Interview with Steven Barfield (Part 2)”

Book Review: The New Wallace Stevens Studies

6 December 2021

Domonique Davies, University of Reading

The New Wallace Stevens Studies, Edited by Bart Eeckhout and Gül Bilge Han, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021).

Wallace Stevens’s well-known adage, ‘It Must Change’, has been continually reflected on through critical discussions of his work.[1]  Over the last twenty years, socio-political movements have been echoed in literary criticism, with the development and expansion of ecocritical studies, queer studies, and re-evaluations of imperialism and colonialism. The New Studies in Wallace Stevens signals that it is time to effect change in Stevens studies and reevaluate his works and thought. As Bart Eeckhout comments in his chapter on Stevens and Queer Studies, ‘there may be some value in attempting to redraw a number of circles around Stevens’ (p. 178). Even so, while a paradigm of fresh perspectives is set out in this text, it is not without remembrance of how Stevens criticism has evolved, and a particular strength of the contributions is the acknowledgement of key work by Helen Vendler, J. Hillis Miller, Frank Lentricchia, and Alan Filreis, helping to situate the development of Stevens studies over the years.

Continue reading “Book Review: The New Wallace Stevens Studies”

‘Signatures of all things’: Writing photography in James Joyce’s Ulysses

6 December 2021

Katharina Rajabi (University of Munich)

From the descriptions of photographs in Kafka’s prose, to the photographic metaphorization of memory in Proust’s Recherche (1913-1927), or the subversive gendered use of photographs in Woolf’s Orlando (1928), modernist literature incorporates photography beyond the non-specific image, mere literary motif, or illustration. Modernist writers consider photography as a complex configuration of various discourses essential to modernity – visual perception, representation and reference, time, space and perspective – introducing what Philippe Dubois terms the photographic ‘dispositif’ into the text – a specifically photographic approach to these discourses.[1] In writing, narrating and fictionalising photographs, modernist prose at the same time shapes this ‘dispositif’, often anticipating key ideas of later photographic theory – which, in fact, frequently draws on these authors in developing its arguments (like, for example, Walter Benjamin on Kafka, or Roland Barthes on Proust).[2] The most complex of these modernist writings of photography, centring on the problem of (linguistic) representation, occurs in James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922).

Continue reading “‘Signatures of all things’: Writing photography in James Joyce’s Ulysses”

Book Review: Psychomotor Aesthetics: Movement and Affect in Modern Literature and Film

6 December 2021

Alex Braslavsky, Harvard University

Ana Hedberg Olenina, Psychomotor Aesthetics: Movement and Affect in Modern Literature and Film (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020)

In her recent book Psychomotor Aesthetics, Ana Hedberg Olenina asks a critical question: what role does physical experience take in the appreciation of art? Throughout her impeccably researched book, Olenina pores over the relevance of psychomotor aesthetics in the realms of literary composition, oral performance, cinema acting, and the experience of film viewing at a time when, in her words, “Art forms were now viewed as matrix, or blueprints for eliciting sensations” (xiv).  Continue reading “Book Review: Psychomotor Aesthetics: Movement and Affect in Modern Literature and Film”

Book Review: The Making of Samuel Beckett’s Company/Compagnie

6 December 2021

Jonathan McAllister, University of Cambridge

Georgina Nugent-Folan, The Making of Samuel Beckett’s Company / Compagnie (Brussels: University of Antwerp Press, 2019).

Tried to get going again in English to see me through, say for company, but broke down. But must somehow.

Samuel Beckett to Ruby Cohn, 3 May 1977.[1]

One of the arguments often levelled against genetic criticism is the following: tracing the composition of an artwork tells us little about the significance of the work itself. The most concise formulation of this critique of which I know is given by the late Roger Scruton: ‘what a thing is and how it came to be are two different questions, and the answer to the second may not be the answer to the first’.[2] For this reason, one critic has unreasonably argued that ‘genetic criticism explains nothing, and never has’.[3] But Georgina Nugent-Folan shows that there are substantive intellectual reasons for pursuing a compositional analysis of Beckett’s work. Of relevance to my review is the processual nature of his prose, which foregrounds the pursuit and motive of reading and writing creative texts. What genetic criticism allows scholars to do is offer tentative answers to the questions of how and why we go about these strange activities. 

Continue reading “Book Review: The Making of Samuel Beckett’s Company/Compagnie”

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