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Hopkins Studies in Modernism

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Hopkins Studies in Modernism

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Collecting as Modernist Practice

Jeremy Braddock

In this highly original study, Jeremy Braddock focuses on collective forms of modernist expression—the art collection, the anthology, and the archive—and their importance in the development of institutional and artistic culture in the United States. Using extensive archival research, Braddock's study synthetically examines the overlooked practices of major American art collectors and literary editors: Albert Barnes, Alain Locke, Duncan Phillips, Alfred Kreymborg, Amy Lowell, Ezra Pound, Katherine Dreier, and Carl Van Vechten. He reveals the way collections were devised as both models for modernism's future institutionalization and culturally productive objects and aesthetic forms in themselves. Rather than anchoring his study in the familiar figures of the individual poet, artist, and work, Braddock gives us an entirely new account of how modernism was made, one centered on the figure of the collector and the practice of collecting. Collecting as Modernist Practice demonstrates that modernism's cultural identity was secured not so much through the selection of a canon of significant works as by the development of new practices that shaped the social meaning of art. Braddock has us revisit the contested terrain of modernist culture prior to the dominance of institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art and the university curriculum so that we might consider modernisms that could have been. Offering the most systematic review to date of the Barnes Foundation, an intellectual genealogy and analysis of The New Negro anthology, and studies of a wide range of hitherto ignored anthologies and archives, Braddock convincingly shows how artistic and literary collections helped define the modernist movement in the United States.

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Modernism and Opera

edited by Richard Begam and Matthew Wilson Smith

At first glance, modernism and opera may seem like strange bedfellows—the former hostile to sentiment, the latter wearing its heart on its sleeve. And yet these apparent opposites attract: many operas are aesthetically avant-garde, politically subversive, and socially transgressive. From the proto-modernist strains of Richard Wagner’s Parsifal through the twenty-first-century modernism of Kaija Saariaho’s L’amour de loin, the duet between modernism and opera, at turns harmonious and dissonant, has been one of the central artistic events of modernity. Despite this centrality, scholars of modernist literature only rarely venture into opera, and music scholars generally return the favor by leaving literature to one side. But opera, that grand cauldron of the arts, demands that scholars, too, share the stage with one another.

In Modernism and Opera, Richard Begam and Matthew Wilson Smith bring together musicologists, literary critics, and theater scholars for the first time in a mutual endeavor to trace certain key moments in the history of modernism and opera. This innovative volume includes essays from some of the most notable scholars in their fields and covers works as diverse as Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle, Berg’s Wozzeck, Janáček’s Makropulos Case, Thomson’s Four Saints in Three Acts, Strauss’s Arabella, Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron, Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, Britten’s Gloriana, and Messiaen’s Saint François d’Assise.

A collaborative study of the ultimate collaborative art form, Modernism and Opera reveals how modernism and opera illuminate each other and, more generally, the culture of the twentieth century. It also addresses a number of issues crucial for understanding the relation between modernism and opera, focusing in particular on intermediality (how modernism integrates music, literature, and drama into opera) and anti-theatricality (how opera responds to modernism’s apparent antipathy to theatricality). This captivating book—the first of its kind—will appeal to scholars of literature, music, theater, and modernity as well as to sophisticated opera lovers everywhere.

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My Silver Planet

A Secret History of Poetry and Kitsch

Daniel Tiffany

My Silver Planet (borrowing its title from John Keats) contends that the insoluble problem of elite poetry’s relation to popular culture bears the indelible stamp of its turbulent incorporation of vernacular poetry—a legacy shaped by nostalgia, contempt, and fraudulence. Daniel Tiffany reactivates and fundamentally redefines the concept of kitsch, freeing it from modernist misapprehension and ridicule. He excavates the forgotten history of poetry’s relation to kitsch, beginning with the exuberant revival of archaic (and often spurious) ballads in Britain in the early eighteenth century. Tiffany argues that the ballad revival—the earliest formation of what we now call popular culture—sparked a dubious but seemingly irresistible flirtation with poetic forgery that endures today in the ambiguity of the kitsch artifact: is it real or fake, art or kitsch? He goes on to trace the genealogy of kitsch in texts ranging from nursery rhymes and poetic melodrama to the lyric commodities of Baudelaire. He scrutinizes the Fascist “paradise” inscribed in Ezra Pound’s Cantos, as well as the poetry of the New York School and its debt to pop and “plastic” art. By exposing and elaborating the historical poetics of kitsch, My Silver Planet transforms our sense of kitsch as a category of material culture.

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Optical Impersonality

Science, Images, and Literary Modernism

Christina Walter

Western accounts of human vision before the nineteenth century tended to separate the bodily eye from the rational mind. This model gave way in the mid-nineteenth century to one in which the thinking subject, perceiving body, perceptual object, and material world could not be so easily separated. Christina Walter explores how this new physiology of vision provoked writers to reconceive the relations among image, text, sight, and subjectivity. Walter focuses in particular on the ways in which modernist writers such as H.D., Mina Loy, D. H. Lawrence, and T. S. Eliot adapted modern optics and visual culture to develop an alternative to the self or person as a model of the human subject. Critics have long seen modernists as being concerned with an “impersonal” form of writing that rejects the earlier Romantic notion that literature was a direct expression of its author’s personality. Walter argues that scholars have misunderstood aesthetic impersonality as an evacuation of the person when it is instead an interrogation of what exactly goes into a personality. She shows that modernist impersonality embraced the embodied and incoherent notion of the human subject that resulted from contemporary physiological science, and traces the legacy of that impersonality in current affect theory. Optical Impersonality will appeal to scholars and advanced students of modernist literature and visual culture and to those interested in the intersections of art, literature, science, and technology.

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Poetic Modernism in the Culture of Mass Print

Bartholomew Brinkman

In Poetic Modernism in the Culture of Mass Print, Bartholomew Brinkman argues that an emerging mass print culture conditioned the production, reception, and institutionalization of poetic modernism from the latter part of the nineteenth century through the middle of the twentieth century—with lasting implications for the poetry and media landscape. Drawing upon extensive archival research in the United States and Britain, Brinkman demonstrates that a variety of print collecting practices—including the anthology, the periodical, the collage poem, volumes of selected and collected poems, and the modern poetry archive—helped structure key formal and institutional sites of poetic modernism.

Brinkman focuses on the generative role of book collecting practices and the negotiation of print ephemera in scrapbooks. He also traces the evolution of the modern poetry archive as a particular case of the mid-twentieth-century rise of literary archives and identifies parallels between the beginning of mass print culture at the end of the nineteenth century and the growth of digital culture today. Advocating for a transatlantic modernism that stretches roughly from 1880 to 1960—one that incorporates both popular and canonical poets—Brinkman successfully extends the geographical, historical, and vertical dimensions of modernist studies.

Poetic Modernism in the Culture of Mass Print will appeal not only to scholars and students of literary modernism, modern periodical studies, book history, print culture, media studies, history, art history, and museum studies but also to librarians, archivists, museum curators, and information science professionals.

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Proust's Latin Americans

Rubén Gallo

Part biography, part cultural history, part literary study, Rubén Gallo's book explores the presence of Latin America in Proust's life and work. The novelist lived in an era shaped by French colonial expansion into the Americas: just before his birth, Napoleon III installed Maximilian as emperor of Mexico, and during the 1890s France was shaken by the Panama affair, a financial scandal linked to the construction of the canal in which thousands of French citizens lost their life savings. It was in the context of these tense Franco–Latin American relations that the novelist met the circle of friends discussed in Proust's Latin Americans: the composer Reynaldo Hahn, Proust’s Venezuelan lover; Gabriel de Yturri, an Argentinean dandy; José-Maria de Heredia, a Cuban poet and early literary model; Antonio de La Gandara, a Mexican society painter; and Ramon Fernandez, a brilliant Mexican critic turned Nazi sympathizer. Gallo discusses the correspondence—some of it never before published—between the novelist and this heterogeneous group and also presents insightful readings of In Search of Lost Time that posit Latin America as the novel’s political unconscious. Proust’s speculation with Mexican stocks informed his various fictional passages devoted to financial transactions, and the Panama affair shaped his understanding of the conquest of America in a little-known early text. Proust's Latin Americans will be of interest to scholars of modernism, French literature, Proust studies, gender studies, and Latin American studies.

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The Science of Ocean Waves

Ripples, Tsunamis, and Stormy Seas

J. B. Zirker

"Powerful ocean waves fascinate the public, and they have made a lot of news lately." With that indisputable observation, scientist J. B. Zirker takes off on a whirlwind tour of the world of waves—from the “ordinary” waves that constantly churn the sea to the rogues or freaks that can rise up seemingly from nowhere to heights of 20 meters or more . . . and everything in between. Addressing questions most ocean visitors have had and offering new ones for our consideration, The Science of Ocean Waves explains in accessible language how waves are formed, how they move, how they become huge and destructive, and how they're being studied now for clues that will help us plan for the future. Devoting chapters to wind, tides, currents, breakers, tsunamis, forecasting, renewable energy, and El Niño—as well as discussing the gentler properties of ocean waves which inspire us and offer opportunities for relaxation and recreation—Zirker explores the physical factors that create waves. Drawing on some of the recent storms that have devastated entire regions—such as Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami launched by the 2004 Sumatran earthquake, and the great tsunami that crushed the shore of Japan in 2011—Zirker explains the forces that cause these monster waves and reveals the toll they take on human lives. Enhanced by more than 45 illustrations and a comprehensive glossary, The Science of Ocean Waves will fascinate anyone curious about the science behind the headlines. Praise for J. B. Zirker “Scientists know their stuff but are rarely good storytellers, whereas good storytellers rarely possess the necessary sweeping command of a scientific discipline. Zirker is that rare animal who can both communicate the most demanding technical detail and make it accessible.”—New Scientist

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Sublime Noise

Musical Culture and the Modernist Writer

Josh Epstein

When Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring premiered in Paris in 1913, the crowd rioted in response to the harsh dissonance and jarring rhythms of its score. This was noise, not music. In Sublime Noise, Josh Epstein examines the significance of noise in modernist music and literature. How—and why—did composers and writers incorporate the noises of modern industry, warfare, and big-city life into their work? Epstein argues that, as the creative class engaged with the racket of cityscapes and new media, they reconsidered not just the aesthetic of music but also its cultural effects. Noise, after all, is more than a sonic category: it is a cultural value judgment—a way of abating and categorizing the sounds of a social space or of new music. Pulled into dialogue with modern music’s innovative rhythms, noise signaled the breakdown of art’s autonomy from social life—even the “old favorites” of Beethoven and Wagner took on new cultural meanings when circulated in noisy modern contexts. The use of noise also opened up the closed space of art to the pressures of publicity and technological mediation. Building both on literary cultural studies and work in the “new musicology,” Sublime Noise examines the rich material relationship that exists between music and literature. Through close readings of modernist authors, including James Joyce, T. S. Eliot, Edith Sitwell, E. M. Forster, and Ezra Pound, and composers, including George Antheil, William Walton, Erik Satie, and Benjamin Britten, Epstein offers a radically contemporary account of musical-literary interactions that goes well beyond pure formalism. This book will be of interest to scholars of Anglophone literary modernism and to musicologists interested in how music was given new literary and cultural meaning during that complex interdisciplinary period.

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Transatlantic Aliens

Modernism, Exile, and Culture in Midcentury America

Will Norman

The intellectual migration to the United States of European writers, intellectuals, and artists in the 1930s and 1940s has often been narrowly seen as a clash between a rarefied European modernist sensibility and a debased American mass culture. In Transatlantic Aliens, Will Norman reorients our understanding of midcentury American culture by thinking dialectically about the interfusion of aesthetic and intellectual practices across both the cultural hierarchy and the Atlantic. The transatlantic exchanges of midcentury emerge in the book as a crisis point for modernism at which claims for the autonomy of high culture became increasingly untenable, the geographical center of cultural authority was displaced, and the governing principles of the American cultural field went through a phase of dramatic instability.

Norman relays this critical narrative through a series of interlinked case studies of key figures, including C. L. R. James, Theodor Adorno, George Grosz, Raymond Chandler, Simone de Beauvoir, Vladimir Nabokov, and Saul Steinberg. He discovers the strange afterlives of European modernism in disorientating and uncanny juxtapositions: the aesthetics of French symbolism flicker among the neon signs of a small town in the dead of night, and echoes of Mondrian’s grids are observed in the form of a boardroom sales chart. At the heart of Transatlantic Aliens is a conception of alienation that encompasses both its political and aesthetic valences. What unites the exilic figures it addresses is the desire to transform the practical experience of alienation into a positive resource for criticizing and coping with a reconfigured postwar landscape.

Addressed to scholars and readers of American and comparative literatures as well as of cultural history and visual culture, the book combines assessments of individual artworks, novels, and other texts with more distant readings spanning time and space. A gallery of color plates beautifully illuminates the book's analysis. Examining hardboiled fiction through Flaubert, New Yorker cartoons through modernist painting, and Bette Davis through Hegel and Marx, Transatlantic Aliens challenges and changes the way we understand modernism’s place in midcentury American culture.

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The Zukofsky Era

Modernity, Margins, and the Avant-Garde

Ruth Jennison

Inaugurated in 1932 by Louis Zukofsky, Objectivist poetry gave expression to the complex contours of culture and politics in America during the Great Depression. This study of Zukofsky and two others in the Objectivist constellation, George Oppen and Lorine Niedecker, elaborates the dialectic between the formal experimental features of their poetry and their progressive commitments to the radical potentials of modernity. Mixing textual analysis, archival research, and historiography, Ruth Jennison shows how Zukofsky, Oppen, and Niedecker braided their experiences as working-class Jews, political activists, and feminists into radical, canon-challenging poetic forms. Using the tools of critical geography, Jennison offers an account of the relationship between the uneven spatial landscapes of capitalism in crisis and the Objectivists’ paratactical textscapes. In a rethinking of the overall terms in which poetic modernism is described, she identifies and assesses the key characteristics of the Objectivist avant-garde, including its formal recognition of proliferating commodity cultures, its solidarity with global anticapitalist movements, and its imperative to develop poetics that nurtured revolutionary literacy. The resulting narrative is a historically sensitive, thorough, and innovative account of Objectivism’s Depression-era modernism. A rich analysis of American avant-garde poetic forms and politics, The Zukofsky Era convincingly situates Objectivist poetry as a politically radical movement comprising a crucial chapter in American literary history. Scholars and students of modernism especially will find much to discuss in Jennison’s theoretical study.

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