American Modernism: Form, History, and Narrative

full name / name of organization: 
Dr. Tim Packer

American Modernism:
Form, History, and Narrative

What are we to make of the vexed (and often vexing) relations between American modernist literature and the realm of historical events? To what extent (if any) can it accurately be said that the majority of American modernists were inclined to pursue aesthetic autonomy at the expense of political engagement? Why do modernist writers often seem intent on disrupting or evading the structures associated with conventional forms of narrative? Does the modernist aesthetic have any special connection with the unique constellation of social, political, and cultural forces that were at play in the United States during the first half of the twentieth century? What (if any) significant characteristics do the various writers regularly described as modernists have in common with each other? How do these writers contribute to forming the canon and how are the various sub-canons created? Does the difference lie in gender, race, ethnicity, etc?
With an eye to such questions, and with a tactful awareness of the unique particularities of literary form, this book shall explore an assortment of works that have often been seen to have embodied key aspects of the modernist aesthetic. In keeping with the vital and innovative flavour of recent scholarship in the field of modernist studies, the overriding emphasis will be on developing fresh ways of reading and contextualizing these unusually demanding and engaging texts. Essays could include topics on Wallace Stevens, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, E.E. Cummings, Gertrude Stein, Djuna Barnes, Robert Frost, William Faulkner, Anita Loos, TS Eliot, Ernest Hemingway, HD, Mina Loy, Jean Toomer, F Scott Fitzgerald, Pietro Di Donato, and Nathanael West, Tennessee Williams, Eugene O'Neill, etc. Essays on other modern American writers are welcome. Please send essays and resumes to