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.
The development of the new modernist studies of the past fifteen years has involved what we could term, to borrow a phrase that has circulated in the social sciences since the nineties, a “new institutionalism.”
If later testimonies are to be believed, around 1927 Peruvian poet Carlos Oquendo de Amat (1905-1936) published in Lima, under the title Celuloide (Celluloid), a magazine devoted to film news and reviews.
In twenty-first century poetry about the millennial wars in Iraq, the deities and heroes of ancient Mesopotamia are congregating. Dunya Mikhail’s “Inanna” imagines the eponymous Sumerian goddess decrying the sight of “antiquities / scattered / and broken / in the museum.”
Ever since the publication of Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities, the phrase “empty, homogenous time” (borrowed from Walter Benjamin), has become synonymous with the historical imagination of nationalism.
How did the novel, which shared most of its history with the rise and consolidation of the modern nation-state, adapt to a new world order scrambled by war, colonialism, and migration?
New. Now. Motion. Speed. Acceleration. Expansion. Pause. Renew. Now, again.
In the early twentieth century, there is no such thing as transnational literary modernism. Yet, in the early twenty-first century, there is transnational modernist studies.
In the introduction to his superb book Realism after Modernism, Devin Fore describes a “shared modernist aspiration to achieve conditions of perception and consciousness outside of what is customarily arrogated to the human.” He sees this as the tie that binds avant-garde movements across early twentieth-century Europe: from José Ortega y Gasset to Jean-François Lyotard, Paul Cezanne to Velimir Khlebnikov, modernism was a radically diverse enterprise with an eye to the aesthetic transcendence of language, figuration, an
My son sits at the desk, knee propped on its edge, keyboard in lap. Nearby, a television bolted to the wall displays a high-definition humanoid, clad in luminous armor inscribed with obscure heraldry, dancing with ecstatic abandon. Were it not odd enough that they are dancing in the lugubrious depths of a biomorphic dreadnaught inhabited by a terrible and hostile alien race intent on destroying the earth and everything upon it, the dance they dance is the “Carlton,” made famous by actor Alfonso Ribeiro on the 1990s sit-com The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.