Fashioning a foundational book within contemporary modernist studies is a rare occurrence, especially when the text relates to a well-known concept such as modernist impersonality—yet Christina Walter has fashioned just such a text. She issues a call for scholars to reevaluate the traditional understanding that impersonality is merely a negation of personality, a view that “align[s] modernism with an old notion of personality” (25). She then insists that modernist impersonality has more to do with exploring the essence of personality and directs scholars to consider the modernists’ turn toward optical science and the visual-scientific vernacular as a means of creating what she describes as optical impersonality. Walter explicitly defines optical impersonality as the “combination of embodied subjectivity and its social consequences” (6). In other words, modernists used impersonality to “ask how the new physiology of vision” challenged their notions of material, bodily, human subjects and how this vision “applied across...
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Review Article| September 01 2016
Optical Impersonality: Science, Images, and Literary Modernism by Christina Walter
Optical Impersonality: Science, Images, and Literary Modernism, by Walter, Christina.
Johns Hopkins University Press,
2014. 352 pages.
Twentieth-Century Literature (2016) 62 (3): 345–349.
Megan Poole; Optical Impersonality: Science, Images, and Literary Modernism by Christina Walter. Twentieth-Century Literature 1 September 2016; 62 (3): 345–349. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0041462X-3654251
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