Ramsey McGlazer is Lecturer in Italian and Comparative Literature at the University of St Andrews. He is the author of Old Schools: Modernism, Education, and the Critique of Progress (Fordham University Press, 2020) and the translator of, among other titles, Eduardo Grüner's The Haitian Revolution: Capitalism, Slavery, and Counter-Modernity (Polity Press, 2019).
Ben Conisbee Baer’s Indigenous Vanguards is about the education of modernist educators. But the book is also itself an education, combining range with rigor to alter our understanding of modernism and its limits. Baer focuses mainly on the interwar period and on primary education as it figures in the work of Alain Locke, Léopold Sédar Senghor, Aimé Césaire, D. H. Lawrence, and Tarashankar Bandyopadhyay, among others. Baer’s readings are riveting, and they will inform research in fields including postcolonial studies, Marxism, critical and political theory, and comparative literature.
The narrator of Joyce’s “Ithaca” renders Molly Bloom’s experience of “direct instruction” (Ulysses, 562). From the perspective of her teacher, who is interested in outcomes, this experience is not a success. Molly’s insouciance and inconsistency, as recorded in the sentence above, lead the self-appointed pedagogue Leopold Bloom to adopt a “more effective” and modern approach: “[i]ndirect suggestion implicating selfinterest” (563). Joyce’s language suggests here, however, that the “direct” method proves surprisingly enabling—more so, in fact, than the updated, “implicating” alternative. The latter leads, in “Ithaca,” to an ultimately straightforward if initially perplexing consumer equation: “She disliked umbrella with rain, he liked woman with umbrella, she disliked new hat with rain, he liked woman with new hat, he bought new hat with rain, she carried umbrella with new hat” (563). Note the relative predictability of the sentence, its directness, even, “indirect suggestion” notwithstanding. It’s as if “indirect suggestion implicating self-interest” could yield only this parade of pros, cons, and commodities, this regular succession of dislikes and likes.