Douglas Mao and Rebecca L. Walkowitz
Introduction: Modernisms Bad and New
Texemplifyinto
he essays this volume take up a range of artifacts from poetry and
manifestos philosophy and movie musicals; in so doing, they both
and interrogate the so-called new modernist studies or
new modernisms. To be sure, this critical project, whose emergence has co-
incided with a powerful revival of modernist sensibilities in architecture,
design, poetry, and other arts, has not been formulated in any strict or
polemical sense by its practitioners. Rather, the new modernisms seem to
have arisen from diverse quarters; to have found a stimulus in a new journal
(Modernism/Modernity); to have come into focus as the title of a conference
(the inaugural meeting of the Modernist Studies Association); and there-
after to have been certified as a coherent trend by a prominent article in
the Chronicle of Higher Education. It is clear, nonetheless, that the rubric
encompasses at least two significant enterprises: one that reconsiders the
definitions, locations, and producers of ‘‘modernism’’ and another that ap-
plies new approaches and methodologies to ‘‘modernist’’ works.
In its definitional aspect, the new modernist studies has extended the
designation ‘‘modernist’’ beyond such familiar figures as Eliot, Pound,
Joyce, and Woolf (to take the subfield of literature in English, central to this
volume) and embraced less widely known women writers, authors of mass
cultural fiction, makers of the Harlem Renaissance, artists from outside
Great Britain and the United States, and other cultural producers hitherto
seen as neglecting or resisting modernist innovation. Some contemporary
scholars have even chosen to apply ‘‘modernist’’ yet more globally—to,
say, all writing published in the first half of the twentieth century—thereby
transforming the term from an evaluative and stylistic designation to a neu-
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