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Modernism and Affect

Edited by Julie Taylor

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This collection reconsiders Modernism in the light of the humanities' "affective turn"

This book addresses an under-researched area of modernist studies, reconsidering modernist attitudes towards feeling in the light of the humanities’ turn to affect. The eleven original chapters and chapter-length introduction consider the affective dimensions of a range of forms and media – including literature, architecture, philosophy, dance, visual art, and design – tracing modernism from its origins in the nineteenth-century to its afterlives in the postwar period. Modernism and Affect engages with contemporary theories of affect but also turns to a surprisingly wide range of theoretical models – including psychoanalysis, phenomenology, critical theory and poststructuralism – as it emphasises the complexities of modernist affect and emotion.

Key Features

  • Presents 11 original essays by international scholars exploring the relationships between modernism and affect
  • Offers a multi- and interdisciplinary approach to modernist studies
  • Challenges the assumption that modernism is marked by a lack of interest in the emotions
  • Outlines influential theories of affect for scholars and students of modernist studies


Notes on Contributors
List of Illustrations
Introduction: Modernism and Affect
1. Mind, Body and Embarrassment in Henry James’s The Awkward Age, John Attridge
2. The Trauma of Form: Death Drive as Affect in À la recherche du temps perdu, Robbie McLaughlan
3. Logic of the Heart: Affective Ethical Valuing in T.E. Hulme and Max Scheler, Christos Hadjiyiannis
4. The Line that Binds: Climbing Narratives, Ropework and Epistolary Practice, Abbie Garrington
5. The Amplification of Affect: Tension, Intensity and Form in Modern Dance, Paul Atkinson and Michelle Duffy
6. Love and the Art Object, Joanne Winning
7. Animating Cane: Race, Affect, History and Jean Toomer, Julie Taylor
8. Fear and Precarious Life after Political Representation in Baudelaire, Richard Cole
9. Bloom-Space of Theory: The Pleasure and the Bliss of Gerty MacDowell, Maria-Daniella Dick
10. From Odysseus to Rotpeter: Adorno and Kafka, Mimicry and Happiness, Doug Haynes
11. Making Happy, Happy-making: The Eameses and Communication by Design, Justus Nieland

About the Author

Julie Taylor is lecturer in American Studies/Literature at the University of Northumbria at Newcastle, UK. She is the author of Djuna Barnes and Affective Modernism (Edinburgh UP, 2012) and has recent and forthcoming publications on American modernism in the journals Modern Fiction Studies, Modernism/modernity, and Twentieth Century Literature.


This volume offers a lively, provocative, state-of-the-art contribution to modernism and affect theory. While the focus on canonical authors such as Joyce and Woolf will appeal to students, the volume opens up new perspectives on modernist writing by engaging with visual arts, as well as by attending to the dynamics of affect.

- Randy L. and Melvin R. Berlin Professor of the Development of the Novel in English, Maud Ellamnn, University of Chicago

Modernism and Affect successfully stages an impressive array of thoughtprovoking encounters between modernism and affect. The collection will be of particular interest to those scholars and students of modernism who have been curious about the ‘affective turn’ but have yet to delve deeply into it, or for those looking for models of ‘how to’ read literature through an affective lens Ultimately, Modernism and Affect makes a compelling contribution, offering fresh provocation and insight into modernist studies by placing affect at the heart of modernism.

- Wendy J. Truran, Textual Practice

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