Transatlantic Avant-Gardes: Little Magazines and Localist Modernism

Transatlantic Avant-Gardes: Little Magazines and Localist Modernism

Transatlantic Avant-Gardes: Little Magazines and Localist Modernism

Transatlantic Avant-Gardes: Little Magazines and Localist Modernism

Synopsis

Provides an alternative account of the modernist transatlantic. Transatlantic Avant-Gardes offers a revisionary account of the evolution of twentieth-century modernism. Complimenting recent studies of modernist expatriates, Eric White explores new points of contact between European and American avant-gardes to place 'located' figures such as William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens, Jean Toomer, and Alfred Kreymborg back into the 'global design' of literary modernism. Focusing on artist-run 'little magazines' (including Others, Contact, The Little Review, Blast, The Dial, Fire!!, and Pagany) and selected fine press publications and mainstream periodicals, White also reconsiders the boundaries that traditionally divide modernist literature into 'exile' and 'localist', or 'regionalist' and 'cosmopolitan', factions. Thus, the book proposes a version of localist modernism that prioritises issues of geographic and textual 'location' to deliver a 'networked' approach to American modernism in the transatlantic context. Combining literary-historical, textual, and cultural criticism, Transatlantic Avant-Gardes provides a new reading of the specialised literary networks that interrogated the relationship between geographic place, textual space and national identity in the modernist transatlantic.

Excerpt

In the first issue of Others: a Magazine of the New Verse, Alfred Kreymborg devised a quietly radical method of articulating his manifesto for free verse in America using a diptych of poetic editorial statements, ‘Contra Mundum’ and ‘Per Contra’:

Contra Mundum
There is one sanctuary
that is never shut –
to you.

Per Contra
Don’t weep.
There is sanctuary
from me
as well.
Come.

The Latin phrase contra mundum means ‘against the world’ (oed), a spatial metaphor with which Kreymborg positions his avant-garde in opposition to the broader reading public. When the first issue of Others appeared in July 1915 to ‘a small-sized riot’ of scandal and publicity in the national press, ‘Contra Mundum’ appeared to serve as Kreymborg’s rallying cry for a dissenting, unified movement taking shape at the margins of American culture. But looking past the usual headlines, a more complex . . .

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