Modernism has always had a strange relationship to formalism, at least in English departments—which is where a lot of strange relationships get started. Part of the problem was timing. When aging Anglo-American modernists started winning Nobel Prizes after World War II—T. S. Eliot in 1948, William Faulkner in 1949, Ernest Hemingway in 1954—the ideas and practices of New Criticism were flourishing. Since Eliot himself was central to both these cultural configurations, it probably made sense to think that because so much early twentieth-century literature was committed to formal experiment, it must be naturally aligned with the work of critics who were defining formalism as essential to the techniques and intellectual horizons of literary studies. Never mind that Eliot’s essays were far more speculative and rambling than the close readings reproduced in classrooms, or that many of modernism’s greatest early champions, from Edmund Wilson to Hugh Kenner, were hardly invested in...
Dynamic Form: How Intermediality Made Modernism
Mark Goble is associate professor in the English Department at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of Beautiful Circuits: Modernism and the Mediated Life (2010). His essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in American Literature, ELH, the Los Angeles Review of Books, MLQ, and Modern Fiction Studies. He is at work on a book tentatively titled Downtime: The Twentieth Century in Slow Motion, which explores the relation between the experience of slowness and the limits of high technology across a range of film, literature, and new media art.
Mark Goble; Dynamic Form: How Intermediality Made Modernism. Modern Language Quarterly 1 September 2022; 83 (3): 362–365. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00267929-9792659
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