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Tag: modernism

Jesse Zuba. The First Book: Twentieth Century Poetic Careers in America

Jesse Zuba. The First Book: Twentieth Century Poetic Careers in America. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016. xiii, 213p. ISBN 9780691164472. US $39.50.

On the face of it, the notion of a “poetic career” seems contradictory. As Jesse Zuba acknowledges, the benefits can be obscure, retirement plans nonexistent. But the strength of The First Book is its articulation of contradictions at the heart of this idea, and how twentieth-century American poets from Wallace Stevens to Louise Glück work them out.

Irena R. Makaryk and Virlana Tkacz, eds. Modernism in Kyiv: Jubilant Experimentation

Irena R. Makaryk and Virlana Tkacz, eds. Modernism in Kyiv: Jubilant Experimentation. Toronto, Buffalo, and London: University of Toronto Press, 2015 [reprint]. xxi, 666 p., ill. ISBN 9781442629004. CAD $49.95 (paperback).

The long-overdue edited volume Modernism in Kyiv firmly places the Ukrainian capital on the cultural map of the world and situates it on the same level as other centres of the avant-garde production such as Paris, Vienna, London, New York, and Moscow. Hitherto categorized under the label of “Soviet” or “Russian,” Kyiv’s contribution to the cultural front at the beginning of the twentieth century was visible only to the specialists in the field, but this meticulously researched and carefully edited volume possesses the power of a manifesto ready to proclaim it to a wider audience.

Anita Starosta. Form and Instability: Eastern Europe, Literature, Postimperial Difference

Anita Starosta. Form and Instability: Eastern Europe, Literature, Postimperial Difference. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2016. x, 222 p. ISBN 9780810132023. US $34.95 (paperback).

Europe – that is, its Western half – continues to represent, by way of its literature, a powerful referent of identity for East Europeans. Anita Starosta’s investigation of the novelists’ forays into the existing Western literary frames of authority suggests that East European writers constantly measured themselves by and against Europe. She selected works, mainly in Polish and on Polish culture, by writers of Czech, Hungarian, and Polish descent, to study Europe and readability challenges.

Kate Macdonald and Christoph Singer, eds. Transitions in Middlebrow Writing, 1880-1930.

Kate Macdonald and Christoph Singer, eds. Transitions in Middlebrow Writing, 1880-1930. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. x, 272 p., ill. ISBN 9781137486776. US $95.00 (hardcover).

Kate Macdonald and Christoph Singer’s 2015 collection Transitions in Middlebrow Writing offers a productive intervention in ways of framing middlebrow scholarship by focusing on the interactions between avant-garde and middlebrow cultures as they developed. Taking their cue from Raymond Williams’ identification of the period between 1880 and 1914 as an “interregnum” between established “masters” and modern “contemporaries,” Macdonald and Singer open up the space between 1880 and 1930 to place late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century literature in the context a number of intensive cultural shifts between the Victorian and Edwardian eras, as the middlebrow emerged in relation to and alongside the avant-garde.

Greg Barnhisel. Cold War Modernists: Art, Literature, and American Cultural Diplomacy

Greg Barnhisel. Cold War Modernists: Art, Literature, and American Cultural Diplomacy. New York: Columbia University Press, 2015. xii, 322p., ill. ISBN 9780231162302. US $40.00.

Cold War Modernists argues that modernist affirmations of aesthetic freedom and autonomy were appropriated by a variety of state agencies in the service of cultural diplomacy during the Cold War. With chapters focusing on painting, literature, journalism, and radio, Greg Barnhisel comprehensively chronicles this process, showing how the more subversive and radical components of the interwar avant-garde were deliberately suppressed, making modernism safe for the ideological purpose it would serve as a potent weapon in the cultural Cold War.