Aimee Armande Wilson is an Assistant Professor of Humanities at the University of Kansas, author of Conceived in Modernism: The Aesthetics and Politics of Birth Control, and guest editor of the "Harassment" issue of American Book Review. She specializes in topics related to reproduction in interwar literature; her most recent essay, which appeared in Feminist Modernist Studies, argues that Ezra Pound is not the “midwife” of The Waste Land.
Aimee Armande Wilson
“What should we do with the art of terrible men?” asks Emily Nussbaum in I Like to Watch. Reading this book reignited my anger over #MeToo. Nussbaum asks a question that was inescapable in the fall of 2017. The question is difficult, in part because it frames a complex set of issues as resolvable with a single answer. To get an intellectual handle on the question, I had to lay out the nesting-doll questions hidden inside the big one. Two of them are the focus of my essay: what is the role of literary criticism in the era of #MeToo? Do modernist critics have distinctive responsibilities or knowledge pertaining to #MeToo? My answers to these questions emphasize praxis: what those of us working in the field of modernist literary studies can do to ensure the lessons of #MeToo aren’t forgotten. Modernist scholars assume many roles, of course. The essays in the cluster “Reading The Waste Land with the #MeToo Generation” address the implications of #MeToo for modernist pedagogy. This essay complements the cluster by directing our attention to a different (though sometimes overlapping) role, that of the literary critic. I outline in practical terms some of the implications of #MeToo for modernist criticism in the hopes that such concrete thinking will spur conversation about ways to embed the lessons of #MeToo in our critical practices.