Check out the new book publications by Space Between members!
LAURYL TUCKER, Unexpected Pleasures: Parody, Queerness & Genre in 20th-Century British Fiction, Feb. 2022.
What are the sources—and the effects—of the pleasurable feeling of power that genre gives us? What happens to that power when conventionality tips into parody? Unexpected Pleasures explores the connection between genre parody and queerness in twentieth-century British fiction. Teasing out the parodic sensibility of writers including Virginia Woolf, Elizabeth Bowen, Sam Selvon, Dorothy Sayers, Stella Gibbons, and Zadie Smith, Tucker offers an innovative reading of works that seem to obey excessively the rules of genre. By oversupplying the pleasurable sense of knowledge and the illusion of predictive power that genre confers, these works play with readerly expectation in order to expose and queer a broader set of assumptions about desire, resolution, and futurity. Unexpected Pleasures expands on a burgeoning critical interest in genre as an interpretive tool, and further diversifies the archive and methodology of queer critique. Gathering a surprising group of writers together, it reveals new through-lines between middlebrow and highbrow, and among modernist, mid-century, and contemporary literature.
In Surrealist sabotage and the war on work, art historian Abigail Susik uncovers the expansive parameters of the international surrealist movement’s ongoing engagement with an aesthetics of sabotage between the 1920s and the 1970s, demonstrating how surrealists unceasingly sought to transform the work of art into a form of unmanageable anti-work. In four case studies devoted to surrealism’s transatlantic war on work, Susik analyses how artworks and texts by Man Ray, André Breton, Simone Breton, André Thirion, Óscar Domínguez, Konrad Klapheck, and the Chicago surrealists, among others, were pivotally impacted by the intransigent surrealist concepts of principled work refusal, permanent strike, and autonomous pleasure. Underscoring surrealism’s profound relevance for readers engaged in ongoing debates about gendered labour and the wage gap, endemic over-work and exploitation, and the vicissitudes of knowledge work and the gig economy, Surrealist sabotage and the war on work reveals that surrealism’s creative work refusal retains immense relevance in our wired world.
MEGAN FARAGHER, Public Opinion Polling in Mid-Century British Literature: The Psychographic Turn, Oct. 2021.
Whereas modernist writers lauded the consecrated realm of subjective interiority, mid-century writers were engrossed by the materialization of the collective mind. An obsession with group thinking was fuelled by the establishment of academic sociology and the ubiquitous infiltration of public opinion research into a bevy of cultural and governmental institutions. As authors witnessed the materialization of the once-opaque realm of public consciousness for the first time, their writings imagined the potentialities of such technologies for the body politic. Polling opened new horizons for mass politics. Public Opinion Polling in Mid-Century British Literature traces this most crucial period of group psychology’s evolution–the mid-century–when “psychography,” a term originating in Victorian spiritualism, transformed into a scientific praxis. The imbrication of British writers within a growing institutionalized public opinion infrastructure bolstered an aesthetic turn towards collectivity and an interest in the political ramifications of meta-psychological discourse.
Examining works by H.G. Wells, Evelyn Waugh, Val Gielgud, Olaf Stapledon, Virginia Woolf, Naomi Mitchison, Celia Fremlin, Cecil Day-Lewis, and Elizabeth Bowen, this book utilizes extensive archival research to trace the embeddedness of writers within public opinion institutions, providing a fresh explanation for the new “material” turn so often associated with interwar writing.
ELIZABETH FOLEY O’CONNER, Pamela Colman Smith: Artist, Feminist, and Mystic, Sept. 2021.
Pamela Colman Smith’s illustrations for the Rider Waite tarot deck are known to millions worldwide, but her work took her from art galleries in New York and Europe to salons with luminaries of the English suffrage movement, the Irish literary revival, and friendships with Bram Stoker, W. B. Yeats, and G. K. Chesterton. A feminist artist, poet, folklorist, editor, publisher, and stage designer who was active from 1896 through the 1920s, Colman Smith became popular for her live performances of Jamaican folktales in both England and the U.S., using the creole of the island to capture the dramatic power of these tales while driving speculation about her purposefully indeterminate racial and sexual identity. She also travelled in – and was expelled from – occult circles, and her ability to take on and cast aside a wide range of identities was central to her life’s work. Colman Smith illustrated more than 20 books and well over a hundred magazine articles, wrote two collections of Jamaican folktales, and edited two magazines. Her paintings were exhibited in galleries in the U.S. and Europe.
NICK HUBBLE, LUKE SEABER, AND ELINOR TAYLOR (Eds.), The 1930s: A Decade of Modern Fiction, Jan. 2021.
With austerity biting hard and fascism on the march at home and abroad, the Britain of the 1930s grappled with many problems familiar to us today. Moving beyond the traditional focus on ‘the Auden generation’, this book surveys the literature of the period in all its diversity, from working class, women, queer and postcolonial writers to popular crime and thriller novels. In this way, the book explores the uneven processes of modernization and cultural democratization that characterized the decade.
A major critical re-evaluation of the decade, the book covers such writers as Eric Ambler, Mulk Raj Anand, Katharine Burdekin, Agatha Christie, Lewis Grassic Gibbon, Christopher Isherwood, Storm Jameson, Ethel Mannin, Naomi Mitchison, George Orwell, Christina Stead, Evelyn Waugh and many others.
MICHAEL MCCLUSKEY and LUKE SEABER (Eds.), Aviation in the Literature and Culture of Interwar Britain, Nov. 2020.
Aviation in the Literature and Culture of Interwar Britain looks at the impact of aviation in Britain and beyond through the 1920s and 1930s. This book considers how in this period flying went from a weapon of war to an extensive industry that included civilian air travel, air mail delivery, flying shows and campaigns to create ‘airmindedness’. Essays look at these developments through the work of writers, filmmakers and flyers and examines the airminded modernism that marked this radical period. Its fourteen chapters include studies of texts by Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, Elizabeth Bowen, W.H. Auden, T.H. White and John Masefield; accounts of the annual RAF Display at Hendon and the Schneider Trophy; and the achievements of celebrity flyers such as Amy Johnson. This collection provides a fresh perspective on the interwar period by bringing analysis of aviation and airmindedness to the study of British literature, history, modernism, mobilities and the history of technology and transportation.
PAULA DERDIGER, Reconstruction Fiction: Housing and Realist Literature in Postwar Britain, Oct. 2020.
Reconstruction Fiction: Housing and Realist Literature in Postwar Britain by Paula Derdiger assesses the impact of World War II and the welfare state on literary fiction by focusing on one of the defining issues of the postwar period: housing. Through compelling close readings and lively historical and cultural analysis, Derdiger argues that literary realism was a necessary, generative response to the war and welfare state since they impacted the built environment and landscape. Wartime decimation of buildings and streets called for reconstruction, and reconstruction called not just for bricks and mortar, architectural drawings, town plans, preservation schemes, and new policies but also for fiction that invited particular ways of inhabiting an environment that had been irrevocably changed. Derdiger argues that fiction, like actual buildings, creates a sheltered space for the mediation between individual subjects and the social and geographical environments that they encounter. Realist fiction, specifically, insists that such mediation is possible and that it is socially valuable. Covering writers spanning various social positions and aesthetic tendencies—including Elizabeth Bowen, Graham Greene, Patrick Hamilton, Doris Lessing, Colin MacInnes, and Elizabeth Taylor—Derdiger shows how these authors responded to the war with realistic technique, investing in external conditions just as much as or more than their characters’ interior lives. In doing so, their reconstruction fiction helped to shape postwar life.
KRISTEN BLUEMEL and MICHAEL MCCLUSKEY (Eds.), Rural Modernity in Britain: A Critical Intervention, August 2020.
Rural Modernity in Britain argues that the rural areas of Britain were impacted by modernisation just as much – if not more – than urban and suburban areas. It is the first study of modernity and modernism to focus on rural people and places that experienced economic depression, the expansion of transportation and communication networks, the roll out of electricity, the loss of land, and the erosion of local identities. Who celebrated these changes? Who resisted them? Who documented them?
Essays in this collection make the case that the rural means more than just the often-studied countryside of southern England, a retreat from the consequences of modernity; rather, the rural emerges as a source for new versions of the modern, with an active role in the formation and development of British experiences and representations of modernity.
SUE KENNEDY and JANE THOMAS (Eds.), British Women’s Writing, 1930 to 1960: Between the Waves, July 2020.
This volume contributes to the vibrant, ongoing recuperative work on women’s writing by shedding new light on a group of authors commonly dismissed as middlebrow in their concerns and conservative in their styles and politics. The neologism ‘interfeminism’ – coined to partner Kristin Bluemel’s ‘intermodernism’ – locates this group chronologically and ideologically between two ‘waves’ of feminism, whilst also forging connections between the political and cultural monoliths that have traditionally overshadowed them. Drawing attention to the strengths of this ‘out-of-category’ writing in its own right, this volume also highlights how intersecting discourses of gender, class and society in the interwar and postwar periods pave the way for the bold reassessments of female subjectivity that characterise second and third wave feminism.
KATHERINE COOPER, War, Nation and Europe in the Novels of Storm Jameson, April 2020.
The novels of Storm Jameson and their depictions of Britain’s relationship to Europe around the Second World War represent a crucial departure from the work of her contemporaries. As the first female President of English PEN, Jameson led her country’s wartime literary community through turbulent times in history by focusing on European – rather than pointedly British – experiences of war.
War, Nation and Europe in the Novels of Storm Jameson is a timely critique situated within the historical and theoretical contexts so fundamental to understanding her work. Presenting previously unpublished archival material that documents her work as an ambassador for British writers during a time of national upheaval, Katherine Cooper reveals how the novelist’s pacifism and evolving attitudes to war and peace were underpinned by her overarching vision for the post-war world. Drawing comparisons to the works of Virginia Woolf, Arthur Koestler, Graham Greene and others, this study shows how Jameson’s novels gesture towards prevalent internationalist perspectives and reshapes how we view the literary history of the period.
BOB BROWN, Readies for Bob Brown’s Machines: A Critical Facsimile Edition, edited by Craig J. Saper and Eric B. White, Feb. 2020.
This new edition of Bob Brown’s groundbreaking collection of modernist writing experiments has been out of print since 1931, when Brown’s Roving Eye Press originally published it. Only a few copies exist in archives today. The contributors include major modernist writers such as Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, F. T. Marinetti, Eugène Jolas and Ezra Pound, key social realists like Kay Boyle and James T. Farrell and daring queer novelists and artists including Charles Henri Ford and Sidney Hunt.
ALEX BELSEY, Image of a Man: The Journal of Keith Vaughan, Jan. 2020.
Post-war British artist Keith Vaughan (1912-77) was not only a supremely accomplished painter; he was an impassioned, eloquent writer. Image of a Man provides a comprehensive critical reading of his extraordinary journal, uncovering the attitudes and arguments that shaped and reshaped Vaughan’s identity as a man and as an artist.
ERICA DELSANDRO (Ed.), Women Making Modernism, Jan. 2020.
Challenging the tendency of scholars to view women writers of the modernist era as isolated artists who competed with one another for critical and cultural acceptance, Women Making Modernism reveals the robust networks women created and maintained that served as platforms and support for women’s literary careers.
The essays in this volume highlight both familiar and lesser-known writers including Virginia Woolf, Mina Loy, Dorothy Richardson, Emma Goldman, May Sinclair, and Mary Hutchinson. For these writers, relationships and correspondences with other women were key to navigating a literary culture that not only privileged male voices but also reserved most financial and educational opportunities for men. Their examples show how women’s writing communities interconnected to generate a current of energy, innovation, and ambition that was central to the modernist movement. Contributors to this volume argue that the movement’s prominent intellectual networks were dependent on the invisible work of women artists, a fact that the field of modernist studies has too long overlooked.
Amplifying the reality of women’s contributions to modernism, this volume advocates for an “orientation of openness” in reading and teaching literature from the period, helping to ease the tensions between feminist and modernist studies.
PHYLLIS LASSNER and VICTORIA AARONS (Eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Holocaust Literature and Culture, Jan. 2020.
The Palgrave Handbook of Holocaust Literature and Culture reflects current approaches to Holocaust literature that open up future thinking on Holocaust representation. The chapters consider diverse generational perspectives—survivor writing, second and third generation—and genres—memoirs, poetry, novels, graphic narratives, films, video-testimonies, and other forms of literary and cultural expression. In turn, these perspectives create interactions among generations, genres, temporalities, and cultural contexts. The volume also participates in the ongoing project of responding to and talking through moments of rupture and incompletion that represent an opportunity to contribute to the making of meaning through the continuation of narratives of the past. As such, the chapters in this volume pose options for reading Holocaust texts, offering openings for further discussion and exploration. The inquiring body of interpretive scholarship responding to the Shoah becomes itself a story, a narrative that materially extends our inquiry into that history.