Modernist studies’ broadening engagement with the transnational has led to greater attention to mobile forms such as the little magazine. Despite difficulties (as Kate Hartke reminds us in this cluster) such as paper shortages and problems with staffing, shipping, and supply, the periodical’s ability to travel between ports separated by oceans or within cafés divided by ideological walls enabled it to give rise to an array of modernist movements, driven by writers, editors, and readers committed to diverse aesthetic and political ends.
Julia de Burgos (1914–53), one of Puerto Rico’s greatest poets, haunts the American literary imagination from the borders of the modern. Her ghostly presence, desperate and furious, searches for interlocutors on the bridge to Welfare Island, historically a warehouse for the poor, the criminalized and sick just east of the United Nations. Julia’s barefoot figure wandering across that bridge in her bata, just as she describes in letters to her sister Consuelo in 1953, positions her to catch the eye of today’s visitors to the newly restored and renamed Roosevelt Island, which offers no physical reminders of this important Puerto Rican and American poet’s residence there. Nothing in the island’s glistening white granite park mentions the two poems Burgos wrote in English when Roosevelt Island was Welfare Island, months before her death in Spanish Harlem.
The modernity of colonial nations has often seemed belated, but in Australia it has been especially troubled by ongoing doubts about the authenticity of the nation itself. According to Bob Hodge and Vijay Mishra in Dark Side of the Dream: “Legitimacy is a raw and buried issue in the contemporary Australian consciousness for good reasons.
1959: The Atlantic magazine devotes its April issue to “Africa South of the Sahara.” Articles on the politics of decolonization frame a large number of contributions on art and culture. A short story by Chinua Achebe appears alongside the work of Nadine Gordimer, Tom Mboya, Léon Damas, Léopold Sédar-Senghor, Amos Tutuola, and David Diop. “The Sacrificial Egg” is Achebe’s first story published in the United States, and its timing supports the US release of his novel Things Fall Apart. Unlike that classic novel, the story begins in a recognizably modern Nigeria, with a young clerk named Julius Obi sitting alone in a colonial shipping office, gazing at his typewriter.
What do images have to do with the law? A lot, as it turns out. To make sense of an image requires the viewer to imagine a form of life. To imagine a form of life is to imagine a form of law. So law owes its existence to images; they clothe its abstract existence in sensible form.
The articles gathered in this cluster will, I hope, provide the necessary spark to blow open the continuum of (settler) colonialist methodologies in modernist studies today. Extending the work of scholars such as Robert Allen Warrior, Christopher Teuton, Beth Piatote, Shari Huhndorf, Scott Richard Lyons, Philip Deloria, Daniel Heath Justice, Sean Teuton, Jodi Byrd, Lisa Brooks, Jace Weaver, and others, they challenge the unthought settlement upon which modernist studies has been revolutionizing itself for decades now. Together, they constitute an ethical demand that mainstream modernist studies scholars revise how we work. As they make plain, it’s time to face up to modernity’s—and thus modernism’s—ineluctable relationship to settler coloniality.
By the time I moved to Cairo to research Forster’s years in Egypt, late in the summer of 2018, I was already familiar with his cabinet of lost artifacts and vanished statues.
In September 1927, Edward McKnight Kauffer’s “One Third of the Empire is in the Tropics” poster set appeared on over 1,000 specially built poster frames across Britain and in capital cities across the British Empire (figs. 1 and 2). Commissioned by the Empire Marketing Board (EMB), an organization established by the British government in May 1926 to increase sales of Empire goods and products, it was the Board’s first modernist poster series.
On Friday, 11th May 1923, the New York Evening Post ran an article entitled “Conrad and Casement Hut Mates in Africa.” In it, the journalist John Powell detailed his encounter with Joseph Conrad and Conrad’s thoughts on his one-time friend, the former darling of the British Empire turned Irish nationalist rebel, Roger Casement. Conrad told Powell of “[h]is first impression of Casement”; a tale told “so vividly that it stands out with the clearness and blackness of a silhouette caught unexpectedly in a lonely place, casting a hint of ill omen.” Despite the earlier friendship that had existed between Casement and Conrad, in the profile of Casement drawn from Conrad’s words, Casement is an unknowable, malevolent figure: