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The Trouble with Modernism: a Dialogue Continued

15 September 2020

In 2019, the Modernist Review published a dialogue on the state of Modernist Studies in several instalments, taking as its namesake the title of BAMS’ own conference: Troublesome Modernisms. It began (as so many things do) with a series of tweets in 2018 from Luke Seaber (UCL) who conjectured that ‘current Modernist Studies has something of an academic Ponzi scheme about it’. This sparked a dialogue between he and an independent researcher, Michael Shallcross, about the ‘New Modernist Studies’ and the professional demands of the modern academy. We published responses to this dialogue by Nick Hubble (Brunel University), who believed that ‘it’s time to move…to more democratic conceptions of modernity that lie beyond modernism’, and Emma West (University of Birmingham), whose own encounters with troublesome modernism found her ‘draw[ing] up a pros and cons list for including the word “modernist” in the title of [her] first monograph’. Naomi Milthorpe, Robbie Moore and Eliza Murphy intervened with their own reflections on being Modernism-Adjacent at the University of Tasmania, where ‘the spatial politics of the New Modernist Studies are particularly acute’. Luke and Michael reflected on both of these thoughtful interventions in their own final responses.

Continue reading “The Trouble with Modernism: a Dialogue Continued”

The Trouble with Modernism: a Dialogue

28th June 2019

Luke Seaber and Michael Shallcross


In early 2018, Luke Seaber (UCL) took to Twitter to share his suspicion that ‘current Modernist Studies has something of an academic Ponzi scheme about it’. This comment caught the eye of Michael Shallcross (an independent researcher), who contacted Seaber to see if he might be interested in initiating an email exchange on the state of contemporary modernist studies. Seaber and Shallcross are perhaps well-placed to provide semi-detached commentary. They are both scholars of the seemingly anti-modernist figure, G.K. Chesterton, but their research has focused upon Chesterton’s relationships with writers more closely associated with modernism (T.S. Eliot and George Orwell for Seaber; Eliot, Wyndham Lewis, and Ezra Pound for Shallcross). Similarly, they each occupy a position of relative professional remove: neither has a lectureship in modernism, but each is employed within academia (Seaber is Tutor in Modern European Culture on the international foundation year at UCL; Shallcross works in academic and student support at York).

Continue reading “The Trouble with Modernism: a Dialogue”

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