The surprising claim of this book is that dwelling on loss is not necessarily depressing. Instead, Jonathan Flatley argues, embracing melancholy can be a road back to contact with others and can lead people to productively remap their relationship to the world around them. Flatley demonstrates that a seemingly disparate set of modernist writers and thinkers showed how aesthetic activity can give us the means to comprehend and change our relation to loss.The texts at the center of Flatley’s analysis—Henry James’s Turn of the Screw, W. E. B. Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk, and Andrei Platonov’s Chevengur—share with Freud an interest in understanding the depressing effects of difficult losses and with Walter Benjamin the hope that loss itself could become a means of connection and the basis for social transformation. For Du Bois, Platonov, and James, the focus on melancholy illuminates both the historical origins of subjective emotional life and a heretofore unarticulated community of melancholics. The affective maps they produce make possible the conversion of a depressive melancholia into a way to be interested in the world.
Archaism, an international artistic phenomenon from early in the twentieth century through the 1930s, receives its first sustained analysis in this book. The distinctive formal and technical conventions of archaic art, especially Greek art, particularly affected sculptors—some frankly modernist, others staunchly conservative, and a few who, like American Paul Manship, negotiated the distance between tradition and modernity. Susan Rather considers the theory, practice, and criticism of early twentieth-century sculpture in order to reveal the changing meaning and significance of the archaic in the modern world. To this end—and against the background of Manship’s career—she explores such topics as the archaeological resources for archaism, the classification of the non-Western art of India as archaic, the interest of sculptors in modem dance (Isadora Duncan and Ruth St. Denis), and the changing critical perception of archaism.
Rather rejects the prevailing conception of archaism as a sterile and superficial academic style to argue its initial importance as a modernist mode of expression. The early practitioners of archaism—including Aristide Maillol, André Derain, and Constantin Brancusi—renounced the rhetorical excess, overrefined naturalism, and indirect techniques of late nineteenth-century sculpture in favor of nonnarrative, stylized and directly carved works, for which archaic Greek art offered an important example. Their position found implicit support in the contemporaneous theoretical writings of Emmanuel Löwy, Wilhelm Worringer, and Adolf von Hildebrand.
The perceived relationship between archaic art and tradition ultimately compromised the modernist authority of archaism and made possible its absorption by academic and reactionary forces during the 1910s. By the 1920s, Paul Manship was identified with archaism, which had become an important element in the aesthetic of public sculpture of both democratic and totalitarian societies. Sculptors often employed archaizing stylizations as ends in themselves and with the intent of evoking the foundations of a classical art diminished in potency by its ubiquity and obsolescence. Such stylistic archaism was not an empty formal exercise but an urgent affirmation of traditional values under siege. Concurrently, archaism entered the mainstream of fashionable modernity as an ingredient in the popular and commercial style known as Art Deco. Both developments fueled the condemnation of archaism—and of Manship, its most visible exemplar—by the avant-garde. Rather’s exploration of the critical debate over archaism, finally, illuminates the uncertain relationship to modernism on the part of many critics and highlights the problematic positions of sculpture in the modernist discourse.
During the struggle for decolonization, Frantz Fanon argued that artists who mimicked European aestheticism were “beginning at the end,” skipping the inventive phase of youth for a decadence thought more typical of Europe’s declining empires. Robert Stilling takes up Fanon’s assertion to argue that decadence became a key idea in postcolonial thought, describing both the failures of revolutionary nationalism and the assertion of new cosmopolitan ideas about poetry and art.In Stilling’s account, anglophone postcolonial artists have reshaped modernist forms associated with the idea of art for art’s sake and often condemned as decadent. By reading decadent works by J. K. Huysmans, Walter Pater, Henry James, and Oscar Wilde alongside Chinua Achebe, Derek Walcott, Agha Shahid Ali, Derek Mahon, Yinka Shonibare, Wole Soyinka, and Bernardine Evaristo, Stilling shows how postcolonial artists reimagined the politics of aestheticism in the service of anticolonial critique. He also shows how fin de siècle figures such as Wilde questioned the imperial ideologies of their own era.Like their European counterparts, postcolonial artists have had to negotiate between the imaginative demands of art and the pressure to conform to a revolutionary politics seemingly inseparable from realism. Beginning at the End argues that both groups—European decadents and postcolonial artists—maintained commitments to artifice while fostering oppositional politics. It asks that we recognize what aestheticism has contributed to politically engaged postcolonial literature. At the same time, Stilling breaks down the boundaries around decadent literature, taking it outside of Europe and emphasizing the global reach of its imaginative transgressions.
Man Ray (1890–1976) has long been considered one of the most versatile and innovative artists of the twentieth century. As a painter, writer, sculptor, photographer, and filmmaker, he is best known for his intimate association with the French Surrealist group in Paris during the 1920s and 1930s, particularly for his highly inventive and unconventional photographic images. These remarkable accomplishments, however, have tended to overshadow the importance of his earlier work—significant not only for comprehending Man Ray’s future artistic development, but also for fleshing out our understanding of the visual arts in America during one of the most important and crucial phases of the evolution of modernism.
The book, and the exhibition for which this work will serve as the catalog, concentrate on Man Ray’s production from 1907 to 1917. Conversion to Modernism will be the first comprehensive, fully illustrated work to examine this artist’s seminal years. The show and the catalog begin with Man Ray’s high school years in Brooklyn, his studies at the Art Students League and the American Academy in New York, and the time he spent in life drawing classes at the more progressive Ferrer Center
From 1913 to 1915, Man Ray lived in a small artists’ colony in Grantwood, New Jersey. It was here, studying with Samuel Halpert (a former student of Matisse), that Man Ray began to become the artist we know today. The last section of the show and of the book include recently discovered photographs and other works that are influenced by a knowledge of the emergent Dada movement. Here is Man Ray in recognizable form just before he leaves the country for France in 1921.
This exhibit will first be on display at the Montclair Art Museum from January 26 through March 2003. It will then travel to museums in Athens, Georgia, Philadelphia, and Chicago.
Cultures of Modernism explores how the structure and location of literary communities significantly influence who writes, what they write about, and their openness to formal experimentation. These influences particularly affect women writers. Author Cristanne Miller notes striking patterns of similarity in the concerns and lives of women living in geographically distant centers of modernist production. She looks at three significant poets---the American Marianne Moore, the British expatriate Mina Loy, and the German Else Lasker-Schüler---in the context of cultural, national, and local elements to argue that location significantly affected their performances of subjectivity, gender, race, and religion. The first book of its kind, Cultures of Modernism breaks new ground while it contributes to the ongoing reconception of the modernist period.
"A fascinating, provocative, and genuinely original study of a 'different' modernism in poetry---namely, the Modernism of women poets."
---Marjorie Perloff, Stanford University
"An important and ambitious work that makes major contributions to the fields of gender studies and modernist studies, and to the study of modernist poetry."
---Robin Schulze, Pennsylvania State University
"Offers a welcome corrective to the unreflective critical tendency . . . to make broad claims about the historical experiences and cultural conundrums of 'women,' and particularly 'women writers.' Miller offers tour-de-force comparative readings . . . threading together the world-historical with the personal, poetics with the political, and wielding the instruments of scansion as deftly as a surgeon."
---Modernism/modernity, The Official Journal of the Modernist Studies Association
Cristanne Miller is Edward H. Butler Professor of English and Chair of the English Department at the University of Buffalo, State University of New York.
Addressing both the literature and the visual arts of Anglo-American modernism, The Geometry of Modernism recovers a crucial development of modernism's early years that until now has received little sustained critical attention: the distinctive idiom composed of geometric forms and metaphors generated within the early modernist movement of Vorticism, formed in London in 1914. Focusing on the work of Wyndham Lewis, leader of the Vorticist movement, as well as Ezra Pound, H.D., and William Butler Yeats, Hickman examines the complex of motives out of which Lewis initially forged the geometric lexicon of Vorticism—and then how Pound, H.D., and Yeats later responded to it and the values that it encoded, enlisting both the geometric vocabulary and its attendant assumptions and ideals, in transmuted form, in their later modernist work.
Placing the genesis and appropriation of the geometric idiom in historical context, Hickman explores how despite its brevity as a movement, Vorticism in fact exerted considerable impact on modernist work of the years between the wars, in that its geometric idiom enabled modernist writers to articulate their responses to both personal and political crises of the 1930s and 1940s. Informed by extensive archival research as well as treatment of several of the least-known texts of the modernist milieu, The Geometry of Modernism clarifies and enriches the legacy of this vital period.
Illustrating her argument with images culled from late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century publications, Hutchinson revises the standard history of the mainstream interest in Native American material culture as “art.” While many locate the development of this cross-cultural interest in the Southwest after the First World War, Hutchinson reveals that it began earlier and spread across the nation from west to east and from reservation to metropolis. She demonstrates that artists, teachers, and critics associated with the development of American modernism, including Arthur Wesley Dow and Gertrude Käsebier, were inspired by Native art. Native artists were also able to achieve some recognition as modern artists, as Hutchinson shows through her discussion of the Winnebago painter and educator Angel DeCora. By taking a transcultural approach, Hutchinson transforms our understanding of the role of Native Americans in modernist culture.
While many previous books have probed the causes of Iran's Islamic Revolution of 1979, few have focused on the power of religion in shaping a national identity over the decades leading up to it. Islamism and Modernism captures the metamorphosis of the Islamic movement in Iran, from encounters with Great Britain and the United States in the 1920s through twenty-first-century struggles between those seeking to reform Islam's role and those who take a hardline defensive stance.
Capturing the views of four generations of Muslim activists, Farhang Rajahee describes how the extremism of the 1960s brought more confidence to concerned Islam-minded Iranians and radicalized the Muslim world while Islamic alternatives to modernity were presented. Subsequent ideologies gave rise to the revolution, which in turn has fed a restructuring of Islam as a faith rather than as an ideology.
Presenting thought-provoking discussions of religious thinkers such as Ha'eri, Burujerdi, Bazargan, and Shari'ati, along with contemporaries such as Kadivar, Soroush, and Shabestari, the author sheds rare light on the voices fueling contemporary Islamic thinking in Iran. A comprehensive study of these interwoven aspects of politics, religion, society, and identity, Islamism and Modernism offers crucial new insight into the aftermath of the Iranian Constitutional Revolution fought one hundred years ago—and its ramifications for the newest generation to face the crossroads of modernity and Islamic discourse in modern Iran today.
James Joyce has long been viewed as a literary modernist who helped define and uphold modernism's fundamental concepts of the artist as martyr to bourgeois sensibilities and of an idealistic faith in artistic freedom. In this revolutionary work, however, Margot Norris proposes that Joyce's art actually critiques these modernist tenets by revealing an awareness of the artist's connections to and constraints within bourgeois society.
In sections organized around three mythologized and aestheticized figures in Joyce's works—artist, woman, and child—Norris' readings "unravel the web" of Joyce's early and late stories, novels, and experimental texts. She shows how Joyce's texts employ multiple mechanisms to expose their own distortions, silences, and lies and reveal connections between art and politics, and art and society.
This ambitious new reading not only repositions Joyce within contemporary debates about the ideological assumptions behind modernism and postmodernism, but also urges reconsideration of the phenomenon of modernism itself. It will be of interest and importance to all literary scholars.
In the spring of 1900, British archaeologist Arthur Evans began to excavate the palace of Knossos on Crete, bringing ancient Greek legends to life just as a new century dawned amid far-reaching questions about human history, art, and culture. With Knossos and the Prophets of Modernism, Cathy Gere relates the fascinating story of Evans’s excavation and its long-term effects on Western culture. After the World War I left the Enlightenment dream in tatters, the lost paradise that Evans offered in the concrete labyrinth—pacifist and matriarchal, pagan and cosmic—seemed to offer a new way forward for writers, artists, and thinkers such as Sigmund Freud, James Joyce, Giorgio de Chirico, Robert Graves, and Hilda Doolittle.
Assembling a brilliant, talented, and eccentric cast at a moment of tremendous intellectual vitality and wrenching change, Cathy Gere paints an unforgettable portrait of the age of concrete and the birth of modernism.
In the 1930s as the capitalist system faltered, many in the United States turned to the political Left. Hollywood, so deeply embedded in capitalism, was not immune to this shift. Left of Hollywood offers the first book-length study of Depression-era Left film theory and criticism in the United States. Robé studies the development of this theory and criticism over the course of the 1930s, as artists and intellectuals formed alliances in order to establish an engaged political film movement that aspired toward a popular cinema of social change. Combining extensive archival research with careful close analysis of films, Robé explores the origins of this radical social formation of U.S. Left film culture.
Grounding his arguments in the surrounding contexts and aesthetics of a few films in particular—Sergei Eisenstein's Que Viva Mexico!, Fritz Lang's Fury, William Dieterle's Juarez, and Jean Renoir's La Marseillaise—Robé focuses on how film theorists and critics sought to foster audiences who might push both film culture and larger social practices in more progressive directions. Turning at one point to anti-lynching films, Robé discusses how these movies united black and white film critics, forging an alliance of writers who championed not only critical spectatorship but also the public support of racial equality. Yet, despite a stated interest in forging more egalitarian social relations, gender bias was endemic in Left criticism of the era, and female-centered films were regularly discounted. Thus Robé provides an in-depth examination of this overlooked shortcoming of U.S. Left film criticism and theory.
In the spirit of Lionel Trilling, Edmund Wilson, and Susan Sontag, the renowned literary critic Jeffrey Hart writes The Living Moment, a close reading of literature as it intersects with the political. Hart’s book is an even-handed guide for anyone toddling into the mists of the modernist moment, effortlessly moving between such modernist monuments as Eliot’s “The Waste Land,” Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, Mann’s Doctor Faustus, and Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Hart’s most stunning achievement is his brilliant inclusion of Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead as a modernist text, for the way the novel teaches us to see more, to hear more, to feel more. Hart’s dazzling study is an examination of important works of literature as they explore the experience of living in a broken world with thought and sometimes with examples of resolve that possess permanent validity. The Living Moment is for anyone who is wearied by so much of today’s trendy, narrow, and ideologically driven criticism.
One of the most interesting questions that can be raised about the twentieth century world concerns the degree to which industrialization created a common culture for all peoples. Reported here are the results of an empirical investigation designed to produce instruments to measure those personal values that have been central variables in the theory of modernization of societies.
The purpose of Joseph Kahl’s research is primarily methodological: to advance the description and measurement of those value orientations used by men to organize their occupational careers. It seeks to delineate and measure a set of values that represents a “modern” view of work and life.
The working laboratory was Brazil and Mexico, two countries undergoing rapid industrialization. More than six hundred men in Brazil and more than seven hundred in Mexico responded to questionnaires. In addition, over twenty-five men in each country were asked to sit beside a tape recorder and talk freely of their worldviews. The respondents were divided between inhabitants of the cities of Rio de Janeiro and Mexico City and those who lived in provincial towns of fewer than ten thousand inhabitants. The samples included manual and nonmanual employees.
The results showed that the main variable predicting whether or not a man would tend toward modernism was his social-class position. Middle-class men were much more modern in outlook than working-class men. Residence in a metropolis rather than in a small town also increased modernism, though to a lesser extent. Differences between Brazil and Mexico (and, indeed, the United States) were found to be surprisingly small, of considerably less weight than position in the social structure in predicting value orientations.
The author addresses himself primarily to sociologists and their students who are themselves studying aspects of socio-economic development. His findings, however, cannot fail to be of interest and benefit to social scientists of various disciplines and to all who are concerned with the process of development—planners at the national and local levels, demographers, and businesspeople.
Arvey Foundation Book Award, Association for Latin American Art, 2018
Many Latin American artists and critics in the 1920s drew on the values of modernism to question the cultural authority of Europe. Modernism gave them a tool for coping with the mobility of their circumstances, as well as the inspiration for works that questioned the very concepts of the artist and the artwork and opened the realm of art to untrained and self-taught artists, artisans, and women. Writing about the modernist works in newspapers and magazines, critics provided a new vocabulary with which to interpret and assign value to the expanding sets of abstracted forms produced by these artists, whose lives were shaped by mobility.
The Mobility of Modernism examines modernist artworks and criticism that circulated among a network of cities, including Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Havana, and Lima. Harper Montgomery maps the dialogues and relationships among critics who published in avant-gardist magazines such as Amauta and Revista de Avance and artists such as Carlos Mérida, Xul Solar, and Emilio Pettoruti, among others, who championed esoteric forms of abstraction. She makes a convincing case that, for these artists and critics, modernism became an anticolonial stance which raised issues that are still vital today—the tensions between the local and the global, the ability of artists to speak for blighted or unincorporated people, and, above all, how advanced art and its champions can enact a politics of opposition.
Ranging over poetry, fiction, and criticism, the essays provide fresh appraisals of Joseph Conrad, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Virginia Woolf, D. H. Lawrence, Wyndham Lewis, E. M. Forster, W. B. Yeats, James Joyce, Elizabeth Bowen, Hugh MacDiarmid, and Evelyn Waugh, as well as Robert Louis Stevenson and H. Rider Haggard. The essays that bookend the collection connect the modernists to their Victorian precursors, to postwar literary critics, and to postcolonial poets. The rest treat major works written or published between 1899 and 1939, the boom years of literary modernism and the period during which the British empire reached its greatest geographic expanse. Among the essays are explorations of how primitivism figured in the fiction of Lawrence and Lewis; how, in Ulysses, Joyce used modernist techniques toward anticolonial ends; and how British imperialism inspired Conrad, Woolf, and Eliot to seek new aesthetic forms appropriate to the sense of dislocation they associated with empire.
Contributors. Nicholas Allen, Rita Barnard, Richard Begam, Nicholas Daly, Maria DiBattista, Ian Duncan, Jed Esty, Andrzej Gąsiorek, Declan Kiberd, Brian May, Michael Valdez Moses, Jahan Ramazani, Vincent Sherry
Modernism and Hegemony was first published in 1990. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
In Modernism and Hegemony, Neil Larsen exposes the underlying political narratives of modernist aesthetic theory and practice. Unlike earlier Marxist critics, Larsen insists that modernist ideology be approached as a "displaced politics" and not simply as an aesthetic phenomenon. In this view, modernism is broadly ideological project comprising not only the literary-artist canon but also a wide array of theoretical discourses from aesthetics to philosophy, culture, and politics. Larsen gives postmodernism some credit for the apparent breakup of modernism, and for exposing the philosophical and political nature of its aesthetic stance. But he parts company with its ideological and epistemological notions, proposing to change the terms, and thus the framework, of the debate.
The period before 1917 was a brilliant one for Russian literature, marked by the innovations and experimentation of modernism. With the Bolshevik seizure of power, a parallel process of drastic social innovation and experimentation began. How did revolution in the arts and revolution in society and politics relate to one another? Victor Erlich, an eminent authority on modern Slavic culture, takes up this question in Modernism and Revolution, a masterful appraisal of Russian literature during its most turbulent years.Probing the salient literary responses to the upheaval that changed the face of Russia, Erlich offers a new perspective on this period of artistic and political ferment. He begins by revisiting the highlights of early twentieth-century Russian poetry—including the works of such masters as Akhmatova, Mandelstam, and Pasternak—and goes on to examine the major prose writers of the first post-revolutionary decade. In an inquiry that ranges over poetry, criticism, and artistic prose, Erlich explores the work of, among others, Symbolists Bely, Blok, and Ivanov, Futurists Khlebnikov and Mayakovsky, Formalists Jakobson and Shklovsky, the novelists Pilnyak and Zamyatin, the short-story master Babel, and the humorist Zoshchenko. He delineates a complex and ambiguous relationship between Russian literary modernism and the emerging Soviet state.Here, following the artistic experimentation and cultural diversity begun early in the century, we witness a trend toward regimentation and conformity as the literary avant garde's modus vivendi with the new regime becomes increasingly precarious. As this regime recedes into history, along with the passions and prejudices it aroused, the accomplishments and failures of writers caught up in its early revolutionary fervor can at last be seen for what they were. From a perspective formed over a lifetime of study of Russian literature, Victor Erlich helps us look clearly, judiciously, and deeply into this long obscured part of the literary past.
Today’s mass-market romances have their precursors in late Victorian popular novels written by and for women. In Modernism and the Women’s Popular Romance Martin Hipsky scrutinizes some of the best-selling British fiction from the period 1885 to 1925, the era when romances, especially those by British women, were sold and read more widely than ever before or since.
Recent scholarship has explored the desires and anxieties addressed by both “low modern” and “high modernist” British culture in the decades straddling the turn of the twentieth century. In keeping with these new studies, Hipsky offers a nuanced portrait of an important phenomenon in the history of modern fiction. He puts popular romances by Mrs. Humphry Ward, Marie Corelli, the Baroness Orczy, Florence Barclay, Elinor Glyn, Victoria Cross, Ethel Dell, and E. M. Hull into direct relationship with the fiction of Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield, James Joyce, and D. H. Lawrence, among other modernist greats.
What form does the crisis of modernity take in Latin America when societies are politically demobilized and there is no revolutionary agenda in sight? How does postmodern criticism reflect on enlightenment and utopia in a region marked by incomplete modernization, new waves of privatization, great masses of excluded peoples, and profound sociocultural heterogeneity? In No Apocalypse, No Integration Martín Hopenhayn examines the social and philosophical implications of the triumph of neoliberalism and the collapse of leftist and state-sponsored social planning in Latin America.With the failure of utopian movements that promised social change, the rupture of the link between the production of knowledge and practical intervention, and the defeat of modernization and development policy established after World War II, Latin American intellectuals and militants have been left at an impasse without a vital program of action. Hopenhayn analyzes these crises from a theoretical perspective and calls upon Latin American intellectuals to reevaluate their objects of study, their political reality, and their society’s cultural production, as well as to seek within their own history the elements for a new collective discourse. Challenging the notion that strict adherence to a single paradigm of action can rescue intellectual and cultural movements, Hopenhayn advocates a course of epistemological pluralism, arguing that such an approach values respect for difference and for cultural and theoretical diversity and heterodoxy.This essay collection will appeal to readers of sociology, public policy, philosophy, cultural theory, and Latin American history and culture, as well as to those with an interest in Latin America’s current transition.
The United States Air Force Academy stands as one of the most extensive architectural projects of the cold war era. Key to a full understanding of American modernism, the project was also a volatile battleground involving competing ideas about aesthetics and politics. Arguing that the academy's production was squarely grounded in bureaucratic and political processes, Robert Allen Nauman demonstrates that selection of both the site and the design firm was the result of political maneuverings involving U.S. military leadership.
The Phantom of the Ego is the first comparative study that shows how the modernist account of the unconscious anticipates contemporary discoveries about the importance of mimesis in the formation of subjectivity. Rather than beginning with Sigmund Freud as the father of modernism, Nidesh Lawtoo starts with Friedrich Nietzsche’s antimetaphysical diagnostic of the ego, his realization that mimetic reflexes—from sympathy to hypnosis, to contagion, to crowd behavior—move the soul, and his insistence that psychology informs philosophical reflection. Through a transdisciplinary, comparative reading of landmark modernist authors like Nietzsche, Joseph Conrad, D. H. Lawrence, and Georges Bataille, Lawtoo shows that, before being a timely empirical discovery, the “mimetic unconscious” emerged from an untimely current in literary and philosophical modernism. This book traces the psychological, ethical, political, and cultural implications of the realization that the modern ego is born out of the spirit of imitation; it is thus, strictly speaking, not an ego, but what Nietzsche calls, “a phantom of the ego.” The Phantom of the Ego opens up a Nietzschean back door to the unconscious that has mimesis rather than dreams as its via regia, and argues that the modernist account of the “mimetic unconscious” makes our understanding of the psyche new.
Philosophy Beside Itself was first published in 1986. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
The writings of French philosopher Jacques Derrida have been the single most powerful influence on critical theory and practice in the United States over the past decade. But with few exceptions American philosophers have taken little or no interest in Derrida's work, and the task of reception, translation, and commentary has been left to literary critics. As a result, Derrida has appeared as a figure already defined by essentially literary critical activities and interests.
Stephen Melville's aim in Philosophy Beside Itself is to insist upon and clarify the distinctions between philosophy and criticism. He argues that until we grasp Derrida's philosophical project as such, we remain fundamentally unable to see his significance for criticism. In terms derived from Stanley Cavell's writings on modernism, Melville develops a case for Derrida as a modernist philosopher, working at once within and against that tradition and discipline.
Melville first places Derrida in a Hegelian context, the structure of which he explores by examining the work of Heidegger, Lacan, and Bataille. With this foundation, he is able to reappraise the project of deconstructive criticism as developed in Paul de Man's Blindness and Insight and further articulated by other Yale critics. Central to this critique is the ambivalent relationship between deconstructive criticism and Lacanian psychoanalysis. Criticism—radical self-criticism—is a central means through which the difficult facts of human community come to recognition, and Melville argues for criticism as an activity intimately bound to the ways in which we do and do not belong in time and in community. Derrida's achievement has been to find a new and necessary way to assert that the task of philosophy is criticism; the task of literary criticism is to assume the burden of that achievement.
Stephen Melville is an assistant professor of English at Syracuse University, and Donald Marshall is a professor of English at the University of Iowa.
The Poetry of the Possible challenges the conventional image of modernism as a socially phobic formation, arguing that modernism’s abstractions and difficulties are ways of imagining unrealized powers of collective self-organization. Establishing a conceptual continuum between modernism and contemporary theorists such as Paulo Virno, Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri, and Alain Badiou, Joel Nickels rediscovers modernism’s attempts to document the creative potenza of the multitude.
By examining scenes of collective life in works by William Carlos Williams, Wyndham Lewis, Laura Riding, and Wallace Stevens, Nickels resurrects modernism’s obsession with constituent power: the raw, indeterminate capacity for reciprocal counsel that continually constitutes and reconstitutes established political regimes. In doing so, he reminds us that our own attempts to imagine leaderless networks of collective initiative are not so much breaks with modernist forms of knowledge as restagings of some of modernism’s most radical moments of political speculation.
Setting modernism’s individual and collective models of spontaneity in dialogue with theorists of political spontaneity such as Antonio Gramsci, Herbert Marcuse, and Theodor Adorno, Nickels retells the story of modernism as the struggle to represent powers of collective self-organization that lie outside established regimes of political representation.
A radical reconceptualization of modernism, this book traces the appearance of the modern artist to the Paris of the 1830s and links the emergence of an enduring modernist aesthetic to the fleeting forms of popular culture. Contrary to conventional views of a private self retreating from history and modernity, Popular Bohemia shows us the modernist as a public persona parodying the stereotypes of commercial mass culture. Here we see how the modern artist—alternately assuming the roles of the melodramatic hero, the urban flâneur, the female hysteric, the tribal primitive—created his own version of an expressive, public modernity in opposition to an increasingly repressive and conformist bourgeois culture. And here we see how a specifically modern aesthetic culture in nineteenth-century Paris came about, not in opposition to commercial popular culture, but in close alliance with it.Popular Bohemia revises dominant historical narratives about modernism from the perspective of a theoretically informed cultural history that spans the period between 1830 and 1914. In doing so, it reconnects the intellectual history of avant-garde art with the cultural history of bohemia and the social history of the urban experience to reveal the circumstances in which a truly modernist culture emerged.
Among postimpressionist painters, Van Gogh, Seurat, Cézanne, and Gauguin produced a remarkable body of work that responded to a cultural and spiritual crisis in the avant-garde world—influences that pushed them toward an increasing reliance on science, literature, and occultism. In Revelation of Modernism, renowned art historian Albert Boime reappraises specific works by these masters from a perspective more appreciative of the individuals’ inner conflicts, offering the art world a new understanding of a period fraught with apocalyptic fears and existential anxieties.
Building on the seminal observations of Sven Lövgren from a half-century ago, Boime rejects popular notions of “art for art’s sake” and rethinks an entire movement to suggest that history, rather than expressive urge, is the driving force that shapes art. He reconsiders familiar masterpieces from a fresh perspective, situating the art in the contexts of history both real and speculative, of contemporary philosophy, and of science to depict modernism as a development that ultimately failed.
Boime expands on what we think we know about these figures and produces startling new revelations about their work. From the political history of Seurat’s Parade de cirque to the astronomical foundations of Van Gogh’s Starry Night, he draws analogies between literary sources and social, personal, and political strategies that have eluded most art historians. He offers a richer and more complex vision of Cézanne, considering the artist as an Old Testament figure in search of the Promised Landscape. And he provides a particularly detailed look at Gauguin—on whom Boime has never previously published—that takes a closer look at the artist’s The Vision after the Sermon and its allusions to Eliphas Lévi’s writings, sheds light on the sources for From whence do we come? and offers new thoughts about Gauguin’s various self-portraits.
Boime’s latest contribution further testifies to his status as one of our most important living art historians. As entertaining as it is eloquent, Revelation of Modernism is a bold and groundbreaking work that should be required reading for all who wish to understand the contradictory origins and development of modernism and its role in history.
The tumultuous last decades of British colonialism in India were catalyzed by more than the work of Mahatma Gandhi and violent conflicts. The concurrent upheavals in Western art driven by the advent of modernism provided Indian artists in post-1920 India a powerful tool of colonial resistance. Distinguished art historian Partha Mitter now explores in this brilliantly illustrated study this lesser known facet of Indian art and history.
Taking the 1922 Bauhaus exhibition in Calcutta as the debut of European modernism in India, The Triumph of Modernism probes the intricate interplay of Western modernism and Indian nationalism in the evolution of colonial-era Indian art. Mitter casts his gaze across a myriad of issues, including the emergence of a feminine voice in Indian art, the decline of “oriental art,” and the rise of naturalism and modernism in the 1920s. Nationalist politics also played a large role, from the struggle of artists in reconciling Indian nationalism with imperial patronage of the arts to the relationship between primitivism and modernism in Indian art. An engagingly written study anchored by 150 lush reproductions, The Triumph of Modernism will be essential reading for scholars of art, British studies, and Indian history.
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