Suzanne Hobson

in British and Irish Literature

ISBN: 9780199846719
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

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Modernism is an area of literary research particularly subject to contest and revision. Most studies converge on the period between 1890 and 1940 in their attempts to date modernism, but there is wide variation, with some accounts stretching this time frame back to the early 19th century and others forward to the beginning of the 21st century. For the major touchstones, there has long been consensus over the inclusion of writers such as T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf, and that would now probably extend to the likes of H.D., Katherine Mansfield, and D. H. Lawrence. But there has historically been less agreement over whether avant-garde movements such as the futurists and Dadaists should appear in the “canon” of modernism, or whether “high” modernism is inherently hostile to the kinds of mass cultural and political movements with which these groups engaged. More recent studies have pointed out that if modernism is to include writers outside the usual metropolitan locations of Berlin, London, New York, and Paris, then it needs to become a more flexible and polycentric category that is less firmly attached to a period that favors Western—and more specifically English-language—writing. Modernism has always had a close relationship with the academy, making it particularly susceptible to changes in critical approach. It entered the academy along with the New Criticism in the United States and Practical Criticism in the United Kingdom, both formalist approaches that modernist poetry seemed to legitimate and, insofar as it resists easy reading, to demand. Modernism has also been usefully subjected to, and sometimes seemed to anticipate, the rigors of feminist, psychoanalytic, queer, post-structuralist, and cultural studies readings. In fact, it would be difficult to imagine feminist literary theory without Woolf, or Derridean deconstruction without Joyce. This bibliography provides a sense of the way that modernist studies has evolved over the last fifty years or so, and how this has changed the scope and the makeup of the category of modernist literature itself.

Article.  14063 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (British and Irish)

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