A Laurel and a Few Steps Forward

I’m very pleased to announce that in January Print Plus received the Council of Editors of Learned Journals’ inaugural Best Digital Feature award. The citation praised the platform as “a model to which print scholarly journals with a digital component might aspire,” specifically referencing the variety of forums and our “breathtaking array of content.” This is the second major award for the platform since Debra Rae Cohen launched it in 2016. A lot of editorial blood, sweat, and, well, maybe a tear or two, have gone into it, but of course the reason readers keep coming back is the content. So, thanks are due to the many authors, blog editors, and referees who were willing to embrace the value and potential of online publishing, and without whom Print Plus would have remained just a cool idea.

But we’re just getting started. Since my previous note, we’ve been able to take some meaningful steps towards making Print Plus a space that more fully represents the scope and depth of what modernist studies aspires to be.

Our blogs have continued to provide a forum for some of the most innovative and timely work in the field. I’m excited to tout the recent addition of a new regular blog to that lineup: “Black Spring,” edited by Kevin Bell, which will explore the relationships between modernist aesthetics and “innovative Black writing, filmmaking, and analysis.”

In addition to Bell’s inaugural post, on Amiri Baraka, we have published fourteen (!) other blogs in recent months. That’s too many for me to say something about all of them. But readers can get a sense of the range and vitality of our blog section—specifically its crossings between the personal and the political—by starting with Katy Ryan’s moving essay on her important Appalachian Prison Book Project; Benjamin Hagen on cruelty and pedagogy; Jennie Lightweis-Goff’s urgent essay on the growing strains of contingent labor in academia; Akua Banful’s meditation on “Tropical Harlem”; or Juno Richards’s exploration of the “grammars of queer and trans survival” in and around the pronouns of Claude Cahun. The visual and multimedia aspects of Print Plus really shine in Natalie Ferris’s work on the great Portuguese artist Ana Hatherly, and in Grace Brockington’s “Restaging the Little Theater,” which is the final installment in the Digital Archives series edited by Alix Beeston—a good occasion to go back and make sure you didn’t miss any of the posts in that wonderful series.

Speaking of circling back to important work you might have missed the first time around: a few months ago we published “Race in the Modernism/modernity Archives: The Harlem Renaissance and Beyond,” which makes open access a substantial selection of past print issue articles on modernism and race. If you haven’t already, please do spend some time exploring this fantastic body of work and thinking about how and with whom you might share it.

We have also, of course, continued to publish original, peer-reviewed articles exclusive to the platform. In what I believe is a Print Plus first, we published an original translation: Günther Anders’s 1941 “Washing the Corpses of History: The Hollywood Costume Palace,” accompanied by Christopher John Müller’s analysis of this great critic and theorist who, despite being Walter Benjamin’s cousin and having been married to Hannah Arendt, somehow remains little known in the English-speaking world.

Our continuing commitment to modernist studies’ “global turn” is reflected in the platform’s first article on Iranian modernism (Kayvan Tahmasebian and Rebecca Ruth Gould on Bijan Elahi and translation) and in Nora Benedict’s study of Victoria Ocampo’s Sur press in Buenos Ares. At the same time, Lauren Arrington’s work on Yeats and the idea of a late modernist theater, along with Aimée Gasston’s “Virginia Woolf’s Armchair,” demonstrate that fresh and insightful work continues to be done on even the most canonical of authors. Indeed, it is difficult to think of a better example of this than Frances Dickey’s recent “T. S. Eliot and the Color Line of St. Louis,” which can be read together with Robert Birdwell’s “Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times and the Minstrel Tradition” as ever-necessary reminders of the strange omnipresence/invisibility—or inaudibility—of race in the modernist canon.

Finally, I must trumpet what is perhaps the most distinctive forum on the site: the cluster. “Realism and/or Modernism,” edited by Paul Stasi, offers a compelling instance of the insight and energy that can be generated when a classic tradition of modernist criticism (or, in this case, anti-modernist criticism: the Lukács of “The Ideology of Modernism”) encounters an expanded modernist field that includes Doris Lessing’s Southern Rhodesia, Hayashi Fumiko’s Tokyo, or eco-criticism and media theory, to name just a few examples.

Our other recent cluster will prove, I hope, one of the most consequential things we have published to date: Indigenous Modernities, a probing and polemical assessment of modernism’s “Indian problem.” With contributions spanning North America and including work from both emerging and senior scholars, the cluster just might unsettle the way you think about modernism and modernity.