Focusing on the period from 1910 to 1915, this article argues that Richard Wagner's work was crucial to the development of American cinema. Critics and artists not only advocated Wagner's composition techniques for film accompaniment, but also turned Wagner into an emblem for far broader reforms. These reforms included a greater integration of music and film, a conception of film as a high art, and a conception of film as a medium for national purification and bourgeoisification. These reforms, and their connection to Wagner, helped set the stage for the use of "The Ride of the Valkyries" in D. W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation (1915).
In December 1924 the couturier Jean Patou brought six American fashion models from New York to Paris because, he claimed, the American mannequins' lean and leggy physique was needed to sell his clothes to his American clients. This paper focuses on the American mannequins' Paris debut alongside their French counterparts in Patou's February 1925 fashion show. It explores how Patou's presentation and marketing revealed a set of wider concerns about commerce, culture, gender, and work in the 1920s. The mathematics of fashion was translated into visual seduction on the catwalk as business methods became visual and were imprinted on women's bodies. In particular, Patou's modernist styling of the mannequins' bodies pictured both the Fordist aesthetics of 1920s fashion and the Taylorist management techniques that pervaded the couture houses. In this way, Patou's modernism, rather than belonging to the artistic avant garde, was part of the social and economic rationalization of the body in the early twentieth century.
Three enigmas confront Bloom near the end of "Ithaca." The first is "self-imposed" ("the cause of a brief sharp unforeseen heard loud lone crack emitted by the sentient material of a strainveined timber table"); the second is self-involved ("Who is M'Intosh?"); the third is self-evident ("Where was Moses when the lights went out?"). Only the self-involved enigma remains unsolved, by Bloom at least, leading us to suspect that there are certain mysteries that are—narratively as well as existentially—best left unanswered. This essay explores why this should be so.
In November 1919, the Weimar Republic was a year old, yet no domestic consensus seemed in sight. The international military conflict had transformed into a war at home, where assassinations, street fighting, and protests disrupted public order. Through all this, law enforcement agencies in Berlin worked alongside other civic and private institutions to establish a sense of day-to-day normalcy and security. In the case discussed in this essay, a fictional manhunt known as "Augen auf!" or "Open Your Eyes!" sponsored by the Berliner Morgenpost, representatives of the newly reformed local criminal police helped to set the tone of the popular discourse on civility and sociability in the nascent democracy.
Social fragmentation and cultural incoherence are conventionally regarded as trademark modernist themes, among the defining processes of modernity. Using Matthew Arnold as a touchstone, this paper frames the anxiety about wholeness as a Victorian inheritance, and anchors the discussion of fragmentation concretely in two early twentieth-century attempts to imagine society: Ford Madox Ford's social criticism and the first meetings of the London Sociological Society. I read Ford's 1905 impressionistic essay The Soul of London and his 1908 supernatural romance Mr. Apollo in light of Edwardian sociology's preoccupation with synthesis. Ford's social criticism supplemented and critiqued scientific sociology by the importance it assigned to the affect of interest, and to pathos.
Gertrude Stein's notebooks reveal her acute awareness of a constitutive feature of late nineteeth- and early twentieth-century urban life, the grid. The grid structure, as a model of visual and material organization, characterizes and is consolidated across legible environments from the visual-textual integration of the printed page to the design of city streets, becoming the definitive paradigm of modern spatio-temporal experience. Stein's notebooks for "Subject-cases: The Background of a Detective Story" demonstrate that Stein, in playing with the grid, not only subjects its basic features to rearrangement through her diagrammatic method but also uncovers its political foundations.
"My laughter is a concrete wall," says Kafka to Gustav Janouch. In this paper, I claim that laughter offers us a way to appeal to our own bodies as a basis of doubt. I try to substantiate this general proposition by examining Kafka's identification with the story of Sarah laughing uncontrollably at God's promise of a child in Genesis 18. I argue that Kafka finds in the figure of Sarah's laughter not only a most poignant precursor to his own skepticism of the body, but also a basis to retell (in the Octavo Notebooks) the story of Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac.