Series Editors’ Foreword

In the quarter-century since the publication of Andreas Huyssen’s pathbreaking book, scholars in modernist studies have become accustomed to using the phrase “the great divide” in relation to the object of our study. For Huyssen, the divide was between traditional, “elite” culture on one side, and the debased and feminized culture of the public sphere on the other; scholars such as David Chinitz (in T. S. Eliot and the Cultural Divide, 2003) have demonstrated quite convincingly that Huyssen’s model was too simple, but certainly it was both provocative and productive for the field. And if he sometimes wrongly described who stood on either side of the divide, surely Huyssen was right to call our attention to its existence.

Reading Lisi Schoenbach’s Pragmatic Modernism, one is constantly reminded of another “great divide” partitioning literary modernism: that between its British and American forms. To be sure, thinking about modernism without taking into account its transatlantic vector would be preposterous; and while a certain kind of literary modernism will forever be associated with international urban centers, so too many of its best-known practitioners moved fluidly between them (Joyce, Eliot, Pound).

American studies and modernist studies: most often, they seem to run along parallel tracks, vaguely aware of one another, but rarely jumping the line. Pragmatism, of course, is the great American philosophical tradition; but with few exceptions, it has not seemed to modernist scholars an important means for assaying modernist artistic production. Take for instance Ulysses, that great avatar of European modernism: What would it mean to think about Joyce’s novel using the lens of pragmatism? At this point, we don’t really know; for Ulysses has since

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