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Too Big to Teach? Sizing Up Global Modernism

The literary object is in flux. No longer are scholars so tightly bound to the poem, story, book, oeuvre, canon, or national literature. Yet from the undergraduate survey to the graduate seminar, most teaching stubbornly clings to these traditional objects.

The problem appears particularly acute in the study of modernism, where the literary objects of our teaching have not kept pace with the new geographical expansiveness of our discipline and with the diversity of our theoretical models.[1] Modernist scholars were early to use online databases to make a far greater range of original publications available around the world, and some have drawn on these digital resources to develop innovative approaches to teaching modernist texts.[2] However, these databases and innovations in teaching remain largely disconnected from the lively theoretical discussions about how global modernism and world literature are changing the scale on which we as a profession do literary criticism.[3] Most courses––even courses on world literature, global modernism, or close and distant reading––are still organized around a selection of novels, poems, plays, or other literary texts and accompanying theoretical readings. Indeed, our upper-level undergraduate and graduate teaching tends towards more and more specific objects of inquiry. Just as the last decade has seen significant (though in my view still insufficient) changes in the geographic and temporal scale at which modernism is understood, so we need similar changes in the size and kind of the literary objects that we teach.

Here, I draw on my own teaching experience to show how introducing less conventional objects of literary study can offer students and teachers alike new perspectives on global modernism. In a recent honors seminar at the University of Otago, New Zealand, I asked my students to create a collective research blog about the personal library of one of New Zealand’s best-known modernist writers, Charles Brasch.[4] By asking the students to engage with a corpus of roughly seven thousand books, I challenged them to think about the literary object and literary criticism on a new scale.

From this example, I identify three lessons for rethinking the size of the literary object. First, shifts in scale are necessary to understand and, especially, to teach the global and media conditions of modernism and to bridge the gap between the particular and general, felt acutely in the new global modernist studies. Second, for institutional and conceptual reasons, these shifts in scale are best initiated in the classroom. Third, shifting the scale of our pedagogical objects can make us aware of the assumptions built into different kinds and scales of literary object. An awareness of these assumptions is the first step toward disciplinary transformation and toward preparing our discipline and students for the transformations that continue to be wrought today by new media and globalization.

Book spines from the library of Charles Brasch, University of Otago Special Collections, Dunedin, New Zealand. Photograph by Elisha Gordon.
Fig. 1. Book spines from the library of Charles Brasch, University of Otago Special Collections, Dunedin, New Zealand. Photograph by Elisha Gordon. Image reproduced from Elisha Gordon, “Book Spines: A Photographic Representation of the Brasch Collection,” Unpacking the Brasch Collection: Studies in Global Modernism, June 30, 2016.

Global Modernism’s Big Problem

If we agree with Fredric Jameson that modernist alienation expresses the impossibility of understanding the increasingly complex workings of global modernity, then we face a serious conceptual problem.[5] How can texts that by definition announce the failure to grasp the totality of global modernity be read through a global frame?

The current solutions on offer––“circulation” and “world-systems” theories of global modernism––remain unsatisfactory.[6] Circulation theorists of global modernism would have us track individual literary texts as they engage with and sometimes travel through a network of interactions with other places, languages, and contexts. This approach helps undo the illusion of the literary object’s isolation––be it as an aesthetic object or within a national literature, language, or culture––revealing its deep embeddedness in worldwide cultural, economic, and geopolitical forces. However, the approach puts excessive pressure on the individual text to be exemplary of these larger forces or in some way to map them. The problem is as evident in teaching as it is in scholarship. Just as many recent works on literary modernism seek to read global forces through individual works, so pedagogical approaches to world literature seek to extrapolate the global from the individual literary text.[7]

This sense of the individual text as a map of global modernity recurs even in the theorist most committed to the alternative, world-systems account of literature in global modernity. Franco Moretti found in “modern epics” such as James Joyce’s Ulysses “a symbolic form” for the modern world-system.[8] While he remains committed to the world-systems model of centers and peripheries, Moretti has, of course, over the past two decades moved away from the individual text, driven seemingly by a dissatisfaction with the extrapolation of a global condition from singular literary works.[9] Yet Moretti’s distant reading in itself does little more than restate the problem from the other extreme. If the individual work is too small to tell us of the conditions of global modernity, then we swing to the largest possible unit of literary object: gigantic corpuses of books, of which Google Ngrams is currently perhaps the ultimate expression. The value of Moretti’s intervention lies in unsettling the conventional size of the literary object, but the polemics that it provokes has tended to pit the very large against the very small, leaving little middle ground for the mid-sized literary objects that might help us better negotiate the vast scalar difference between the individual literary text and the global horizon of modernism.

I became acutely aware of this missing middle ground when I set out to design a course that would introduce students to the key debates surrounding global modernism and comparative and world literature. My initial syllabus combined texts on global modernism and world literature by scholars such as Shu-mei Shih, Susan Stanford Friedman, David Damrosch, Moretti, and Pascale Casanova with selected modernist literary texts, including Chinese, Russian, Anglo-American, Caribbean, and New Zealand modernism. In choosing to survey a geographically, culturally, and linguistically diverse range of modernist writing, I sought consciously to combat the “historical microscopism” promoted by the typical “undergraduate curriculum in the humanities, which moves almost invariably from the large survey of a vast swath of literary or historical space and time . . . to the narrowly focused senior seminar.”[10] At the same time, I was wary of the somewhat vacuous particular/general, global/local oscillations that such an approach can produce.[11] It was for this reason that I also decided to assign a different kind of literary object for study: a library. Expanding the scale of the literary work to include mid-sized literary objects such as periodicals, book collections, and libraries enables students and scholars alike to explore the middle ground between the individual literary text and the complex network of relations that constitutes global modernism.[12] It also highlights the crucial role of collecting in modernist literary practice.[13]

Brasch’s library exemplifies the utility of studying collections to understanding the global interconnections of modernism. Brasch is as well known in New Zealand as a collector and editor as he is as a writer. From the 1940s through 1960s, Brasch used his family wealth to fund his private collecting of New Zealand modernist art and to contribute to the development of the country’s literary and art institutions by supporting university residencies and public and university art and book collections.[14] He is perhaps best known as the founder, editor, and funder of Landfall, a New Zealand journal of arts and letters that he established in 1947 and which is now the country’s longest-running literary periodical. The journal itself could be seen as Brasch’s greatest literary work, an act of collecting, collaging, and reframing that he continued for twenty years, helping to shape New Zealand modernism and its reception. However Brasch’s personal library was also a site of collecting, and one that might prove even more revealing of the global linkages that underpinned the modernist revolution.

Gifted to the University of Otago on Brasch’s death in 1973 and now held in the university’s special collections, his library has received the archive’s institutional stamp of authority––literary modernism’s equivalent of the institutional approval that galleries such as MoMA convey to modernist art.[15] The library both exemplifies the institutions and editors who have defined a national modernist canon and potentially offers an alternative transnational reading modernism in New Zealand. For example, Brasch’s library includes a copy of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, a book with an aesthetic in many ways opposed to Brasch’s austere rejection of the coarse and vulgar in poetry and speech.[16] And yet, as one student showed, Brasch shared with Ginsberg a strong interest in gay rights and homosexual law reform.[17] In this way, the library serves to reveal complexities of modernist affiliation and transnational connection that would otherwise remain obscure.

By studying Brasch’s personal library, the students and I confronted in a very concrete way the two competing conceptual models for understanding modernism’s transnational linkages. In the overwhelming dominance of books published in London, for instance, they found evidence for the center-periphery model of the world-systems theory. Yet they also found that many of these books, whether or not they were published in London, came from authors in Ireland, India, and other parts of the British Empire.[18] These multilateral linkages or “webs of empire” belie a simplistic center-periphery model and point to the complex circulations and relations that characterize modernist literature.[19]

Literary objects like Brasch’s library teach us about the networks and power relations that produced New Zealand and global modernism. And yet, though libraries, archives, and online databases increasingly give institutional status to such larger-scale literary objects, they are not well served by the kinds of writing––the interpretative objects––that procure scholars institutional recognition. The monograph and the journal article are poor media for exploring such multifaceted literary objects because they tend to encourage a single, complete argument, mounted by a single scholar working within a single discipline and focused on a limited number of texts. While, of course, these formats can involve collaborative and interdisciplinary scholarship, they are not conducive to the multi-perspectival, open-ended, and cumulative rather than comprehensive scholarly inquiry that larger literary objects require. Instead, we need new kinds of digital objects, databases, and commentaries that are better able to grapple with the bigger objects and big problems of global modernism. The Print Plus platform for this forum itself attests to the growing number of outlets for the alternative forms of scholarly publication appropriate to larger-scale literary objects.[20] So long as the institutional rewards remain largely with the article and monograph, however, we are unlikely to see a significant shift among scholars to the study of these objects. Instead, to scale up our study of modernism, we must begin in the classroom.

Big Changes Start in the Classroom

The classroom has several big advantages for initiating disciplinary transformation. First, long-term change comes through students, some of whom will tomorrow shape the field. Second, larger literary objects are suited to the process-oriented and collaborative learning possible in a classroom situation.[21] More generally, in comparison to the inflexible system of scholarly publication, the classroom offers far greater scope for experimentation.

In assigning Brasch’s library, I emphasized not only the difference in the scale of the literary object, but also the concomitant need for different kinds of interpretative objects. The brief that I gave the students was quite open, but it did stress a collaborative project in a genre other than the student essay. I did not specify the form that the project should take, though I gave a few suggestions, including “a proposal for a book on Charles Brasch’s library; . . . a series of graphic visualizations of the library with analysis; . . . a blog on ‘unpacking Charles Brasch’s library’ with various entries that track the research project through text, images, videos, and links; an online finding aid; or a proposal for mounting a new Special Collections exhibition.”[22]

The students developed a project that illustrates how larger-scale literary objects are better suited to non-traditional interpretative approaches and formats. After initially planning to produce a proposal for a Special Collections exhibition, the students settled on a research blog. The collaborative blog enabled them to address both the scale and multi-faceted nature of the library. For instance, one student with a background in linguistics chose to investigate the prevalence of dialect English in Brasch’s library, while another with a background in art history assessed his collection of art books.[23] The research blog gave them scope for “individual and unique angles and positions on the Brasch collection, providing an array of different insights into various aspects of the library.”[24]

The research blog also enabled a process-oriented, experimental approach suited to large-scale literary objects, where study is cumulative rather than comprehensive and conclusions often necessarily provisional. One student commented, “I think this blog has to take into account our growth,” and “given that we are writing a blog, and not an academic journal, I think it is fair enough to assume that even if an approach like this fails, it is still interesting . . . (and raises important questions).”[25] Teachers and students need to allow for such failures if they are to push beyond the current assumptions built into conventional literary and literary critical objects.

Through the project, the students developed a strong awareness of the new tools, media, and audiences for humanities scholarship. For example, one student posted a link on the class Facebook group to a TED talk: “How modern CAPTCHA technology can be used for ‘massive-scale’ digital collaboration, book translation, and language learning.”[26] As this post illustrates, the students connected their study of a large literary object to the changing nature of study and work in the networked economy and, specifically, to the challenge “to advertise, democratize, market, and make modernism consumable to our audience.”[27] As final-year students, they embraced the opportunity to demonstrate their professionalism, their ability to work as a team, and their awareness of a potential networked audience as broad as the horizons of global modernism.

From the Objects You Teach, You Get the Modernism You Deserve

“Always, in these islands, meeting and parting / shake us” and “distance looks our way” are the most-often quoted phrases of Brasch’s best-known poem, “The Islands” (1939).[28] Brasch’s poem has typically been read for its founding of New Zealand modernism on colonial settler alienation.[29] His library, however, suggests a very different reading: a cosmopolitan and multilingual story of New Zealand as a node––a place of “meeting and parting”––in the transnational networks of global modernism. Approaching his library as a literary object reveals how New Zealand modernism was shaped by modernism elsewhere––by, for example, Russian literature in the original, a significant category in the Brasch collection.[30]

Categorization becomes especially significant in addressing such large-scale literary objects as Brasch’s library. As one student wrote, “Here, I have graphed [the library] according to the Library of Congress system, but there is nothing to stop you creating your own categories” (Sutherland, “Warning”). What, for example, constitutes the Library of Congress categories New Zealand and Russian literature, and what other categories might we use to arrange the objects within them? How do these categories shape the way we see an object? Any cataloguing system should raise such issues, since there is clearly more than one way to order books, and each system will highlight some relationships while obscuring others.

Supersizing the literary object emphasizes how our analysis is shaped in advance by our chosen approaches, tools, and assumptions. Drawing on Moretti’s examples of quantitative analysis of literary corpuses, my students graphed the seven thousand books in Brasch’s library, while also showing an acute awareness of the limitations of such an approach.[31] Quantitative approaches are sometimes erroneously seen as data driven. But of course, as my students highlighted, data on its own never drives anything, but rather reflects and is shaped by decisions about what to count and why. While so-called data-driven research may equally be shaped by the preoccupations of the researchers, it does help students, teachers, and scholars to become conscious of the choices that inevitably underpin any approach, including the choice of literary object.

Like the work of Moretti and many other scholars, my teaching experiment sought to question disciplinary assumptions and extend the geographic and temporal scale through which we apprehend modernism. But it also suggested that the shift in scale enabled by the lens of global modernism must be matched by a similar shift in the scale of our literary objects. And that shift must happen not only in our books and articles, but also––and perhaps first and foremost––in the classroom. If we continue to teach only individual novels, poems, short stories, and plays (even when we emphasize the global networks of relation that underpin them), we will remain trapped in ways of seeing the world that will inevitably limit our students’ and our own understanding. To redeploy David Antin’s quip about modernism and postmodernism, from the objects you teach, you get the modernism you deserve.[32]

By changing our pedagogical objects, we will not only begin to change our discipline but also better equip our students for careers outside the field of modernist studies. Students who are able to grapple with a variety of cultural objects across a much greater range of scales and to translate these into a similarly diverse range of interpretative objects will be far better prepared for negotiating the cultural worlds of modernism and of today.


Notes

This essay would not have been possible without the work, enthusiasm, and support of my students, Elisha Gordon, Monique Hodgkinson, and Iain Sutherland. My heartfelt thanks to them all for generously granting me permission to discuss their work in ENGL 469: Global Modernism at the University of Otago and to cite from their journals, presentations, and other unpublished materials. I am also sincerely grateful to University of Otago Special Collections librarian Donald Kerr for his support.

[1] On the first decade of this disciplinary shift, see Douglas Mao and Rebecca L. Walkowitz, “The New Modernist Studies,” PMLA 123, no. 3 (2008): 737–48. 

[2] The origins of The Modernist Journals Project, for example, date back as far as 1995. See Robert Scholes, “The Modernist Journals Project,” Currents in Electronic Literacy (2008). In addition to the Modernist Journals Project’s own teaching pages, for pedagogical uses of modernist-era periodicals, see Suzanne W. Churchill, “Modernist Periodicals and Pedagogy: An Experiment in Collaboration,” Transatlantic Print Culture, 1880–1940: Emerging Media, Emerging Modernisms, ed. Ann Ardis and Patrick Collier (Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave, 2008), 217–35; Marsha Bryant, “Counter-Intuitive Innovation,” Modernism/modernity 16, no. 3 (2009): 482–84; Suzanne Churchill, “Modernism in Black and White,” Modernism/modernity 16, no. 3 (2009): 489–92.

[3] For examples of innovations in the teaching of modernist literature, see the cluster of articles on pedagogy in Modernism/modernity 16, no. 3 (2009), edited by Helen Sword; the cluster on teaching the Harlem Renaissance in Pedagogy 15, no. 2 (2015), edited by Fran L. Lassiter; and the cluster on “Teaching Modern Poetry” edited by Emily Setina for Modernism/modernity Print Plus 1, no. 1 (2016). While offering rich and diverse approaches to teaching, most of these articles remain committed to the study of individual texts. A few explore teaching modernism through periodicals (Bryant, “Counter-Intuitive Innovation”; Churchill, “Modernism in Black and White”) or through letters (Jacqueline Jones Compaore, “Learning through Letters: Using the Letters of Harold Jackman to Teach the Literature of the Harlem Renaissance,” Pedagogy 15, no. 2 [2015]: 366–70). But these uses of periodicals and letters largely seek to stress the commerce between high and popular culture (Bryant) or the complex networks of Anglo-American modernist writers (Churchill, Compaore), rather than addressing modernism as a global phenomenon. At the same time, pedagogical experiments with big data, such as Alan Liu’s Literature+ and Stanford’s Literary Lab courses, remain largely disconnected from the recent literature on global modernism. (For an early account of Liu’s Literature+ courses, see Alan Liu, “Literature+,” Currents in Electronic Literacy [2008].) Modernism Lab at Yale University does explore the utility of a networked online format for the teaching of modernism, but it focuses on a relatively small number of Anglo-American authors and texts.

[4] The New Zealand honors seminar lies somewhere between an advanced senior-year course and a graduate seminar in the US and Canadian systems. It is roughly equivalent to an MA course in the United Kingdom and some other parts of Europe.

[5] See Fredric Jameson, “Cognitive Mapping,” in Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, ed. Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988), 347–57, especially 349−50.

[6] Susan Stanford Friedman, “World Modernisms, World Literature, and Comparativity,” in The Oxford Handbook of Global Modernisms, ed. Mark Wollaeger and Matt Eatough (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012): 499–525. Eric Hayot offers a similar characterization of the main competing theories of world literature (“On Literary Worlds,” Modern Language Quarterly 72, no. 2 [2011]: 129–61).

[7] For such global extrapolations from individual texts, see, for example, Shu-mei Shih’s identification of “the worldwide confluence of cultures” by tracing the plantation “arc from the West Indies to the East Indies . . . in specific literary works” (“Comparison as Relation,” in Comparison: Theories, Approaches, Uses, ed. Rita Felski and Susan Stanford Friedman [Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013], 79–98, 85, 87). Likewise, teaching world literature is often equated with using individual texts as “a means for us to travel from culture to culture” (Travis Landry and Jesse Matz, “Small College, World Literature,” Pedagogy 15, no. 2 [2015]: 253–69, 261). For an approach similarly based on the global resonances of individual texts, see Angelia Poon Mui Cheng, “Being in the World: Literary Practice and Pedagogy in Global Times,” Ariel: A Review of International English Literature 46, nos. 1–2 (2015): 257–73. For an exceptional scholarly approach that seeks to base extrapolations on a significantly larger number of texts, see Caren Irr, Toward the Geopolitical Novel: U.S. Fiction in the Twenty-First Century (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014). For an exceptional pedagogical approach that uses maps to explore the space of global literature, see Lisa Arnold, Samantha NeCamp, and Vanessa Kraemer Sohan, “Recognizing and Disrupting Immappancy in Scholarship and Pedagogy,” Pedagogy 15, no. 2 (2015): 271–302.

[8] Franco Moretti, Modern Epic: The World-System from Goethe to García Márquez, trans. Quintin Hoare (London: Verso, 1996), 51. Emphasis in original.

[9] “[Y]ou invest so much in individual texts only if you think that very few of them really matter” (Franco Moretti, “Conjectures on World Literature,” New Left Review 1 [2000]: 54–68, 57).

[10] Eric Hayot, “Against Periodization; or, On Institutional Time,” New Literary History 42, no. 4 (2011): 739–56, 746.

[11] Compare the similar problem of “trying to keep the historical background that I would like my students to appreciate from explaining away interest in the poems and the ways they may fit or not fit their cultural contexts” (Erin Kay Penner, “Making No Apologies for Difficulty: Putting Modernist Form at the Center of Classroom Discussions,” Journal of Modern Literature 37, no. 2 (2014): 1–19, 15).

[12] E.g., Suzanne W. Churchill and Adam McKible, “Little Magazines and Modernism: An Introduction,” American Periodicals 15, no. 1 (2005): 1–5; Churchill, “Modernist Periodicals”; Landry and Matz, “Small College”; Isabel Hofmeyr, Gandhi’s Printing Press: Experiments in Slow Reading (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013); Lydia Wevers, Reading on the Farm: Victorian Fiction and the Colonial World (Wellington, NZ: Victoria University Press, 2010).

[13] Jeremy Braddock, Collecting as Modernist Practice (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012). Compare Perloff’s case for approaching Walter Benjamin’s Passagen-Werk as a “literary” work (Marjorie Perloff, Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by Other Means in the New Century [Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2010], 28, emphasis in original).

[14] See Max Broadbent, “Charles Brasch: Collector and Patron,” in Enduring Legacy: Charles Brasch, Patron, Poet and Collector, ed. Donald Kerr (Dunedin, NZ: University of Otago Press, 2003), 21–32.

[15] See Braddock, Collecting as Modernist Practice, 212–13.

[16] Brasch, for example, repeatedly attacked New Zealand vernacular English, claiming that children were “crippled for life by an inadequate command of their own language” (Charles Brasch, “Notes,” Landfall 10, no. 1 (1956): 3–8, 5).

[17] See Monique Hodgkinson, “Howl, Homosexuality, and the Hocken,” Unpacking the Brasch Collection: Studies in Global Modernism, July 7, 2016.

[18] See, for example, Iain Sutherland, “The Irish Paradigm: Charles Brasch and W. B. Yeats,” Unpacking the Brasch Collection: Studies in Global Modernism, July 1, 2016; and Elisha Gordon, “Vernacular English Literature in the Brasch Collection,” Unpacking the Brasch Collection: Studies in Global Modernism, July 5, 2016.

[19] Tony Ballantyne, Webs of Empire: Locating New Zealand’s Colonial Past (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2012). Ballantyne’s phrase “webs of empire” reflects an approach to British imperial history that, like circulation theory in global modernism, stresses the horizontal network-like relations produced by empire and the nineteenth-century information revolution, on which, see also C. A. Bayly, “Informing Empire and Nation: Publicity, Propaganda and the Press, 1880–1920,” in Information, Media and Power through the Ages, ed. Hiram Morgan (Dublin: University College Dublin Press, 2001), 179–201.

[20] Other examples include the MLA’s Humanities Commons and SX: Archipelagos, a platform for “digital practice” associated with the Caribbean studies journal Small Axe.

[21] Similarly, “collaboration . . . is key to periodical pedagogy” (Churchill, “Modernist Periodicals,” 217).

[22] ENGL 469: Global Modernism syllabus, University of Otago, 2016.

[23] See Gordon, “Vernacular English Literature”; Monique Hodgkinson, “Brasch’s Art: Books, Paraphernalia and Paintings,” Unpacking the Brasch Collection: Studies in Global Modernism, May 7, 2016.

[24] Elisha Gordon, Monique Hodgkinson, and Iain Sutherland, “Unpacking the Brasch Collection,” notes to oral presentation delivered at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, July 13, 2016. All quotations from unpublished student texts are reproduced with the gratefully acknowledged permission of the authors.

[25] Iain Sutherland, ENGL 469: Global Modernism journal entries from April 4 and 13, 2016.

[26] Monique Hodgkinson, post to ENGL 469: Global Modernism, Facebook secret group, August 27, 2016.

[27] David M. Earle, “MySpace Modernism,” Modernism/modernity 16, no. 3 (2009): 478–81, 481. My approach also draws on the growing literature on the value of an “intentional pedagogy of digital rhetoric” that moves beyond “traditional essayistic literacy” (J. Elizabeth Clark, “The Digital Imperative: Making the Case for a 21st-Century Pedagogy,” Computers and Composition 27, no. 1 [2010]: 27–35, 28). For example, the students demonstrated their awareness of digital rhetoric by developing a template for blog entries that emphasized “a great feature image” and “a punchy first sentence” to draw the reader in and further images to break up the text. Elisha Gordon, Monique Hodgkinson, and Iain Sutherland, “Unpacking the Brasch Collection,” PowerPoint slides accompanying oral presentation delivered at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, July 13, 2016.

[28] Charles Brasch, Collected Poems (Auckland: Oxford University Press, 1984), 17. The dating of the poem comes from Charles Brasch, Indirections: A Memoir 1909–1947 (Wellington: Oxford University Press, 1980), 343.

[29] The poem has become “a kind of touchstone” for New Zealand’s “isolation, being surrounded by the overpowering and indifferent sea, far from Europe” (Lawrence Jones, Picking Up the Traces: The Making of a New Zealand Literary Culture, 1932–1945 [Wellington: Victoria University Press, 2003], 191). This reading of Brasch’s poem in turn reflects standard accounts of how Brasch, Allen Curnow, and other New Zealand modernist writers, “disenchanted with the legacies of colonialism,” established a “critical nationalism,” in which white colonial “settlement has become unsettlement” (Alex Calder, “Unsettling Settlement: Poetry and Nationalism in Aotearoa / New Zealand,” New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre. Originally published in REAL: Yearbook of Research in English and American Literature 14 [1998]: 165–81).

[30] See the graph showing 349 books under the Slavic languages and literatures Library of Congress category in Iain Sutherland, “Warning: Graphic,” Unpacking the Brasch Collection: Studies in Global Modernism, May 5, 2016. One of the last books of poetry that Brasch published in his lifetime was a collection of translations of the Russian modernist poet Sergei Esenin. See Sergei Aleksandrovich Esenin, Poems by Esenin, trans. Charles Brasch and Peter Soskice (Wellington, NZ: Waite-ata Press, 1970). Russia and Russian literature also played an important role in Landfall under his editorship. See Olivia Eaton and Jacob Edmond, “Russia in Landfall under Charles Brasch,” New Zealand Slavonic Journal 41 (2007): 180–93.

[31] “The quantitative approach does have its limits because it ‘demands an interpretation that transcends the quantitative realm’” (Sutherland, “Warning”). Here, Sutherland cites Franco Moretti, Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History (London: Verso, 2005), 30.

[32] Antin’s quip is widely quoted, but its origins are obscure. See Craig Dworkin, “The Imaginary Solution,” Contemporary Literature 48, no. 1 (2007): 29–60, 29n1.