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Modernism and the Theatre of the Baroque

Kate Armond

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First comparative study to address the rediscovery of baroque aesthetic in modernism

Did you know that seventeenth-century philosophy influenced dance theory and evolutionary science during the modernist period? Or that in England, Italy and Germany the term ‘baroque’ was used almost exclusively as an insult until the 1900s? Modernism and the Theatre of the Baroque fashions an independent aesthetic for modernist writers and texts that challenges many high modernist qualities promoted by James Joyce and T. S. Eliot. Providing a fresh interpretation of the works of Djuna Barnes, Wyndham Lewis, Edward Gordon Craig and Isadora Duncan, the book broadens our understanding of modernist priorities and demonstrates how readily these ideas translate across genres. It shows that modernists are not passive recipients of baroque stereotypes but are instead painstaking in their research and innovative in their reworking of original sources. This is an introduction to key ideas, characters and techniques that will allow the baroque to be used as a conceptual and historical framework for analysing modernist achievements, thereby opening up new opportunities for further research.

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1. Baroque Europe
2. Modern Allegory: Reading Nightwood through the Forms of the Baroque Trauerspiel
3. Baroque Vienna: Nightwood’s Lost Enlightened Modernity
4. Nightwood, Baroque Sound and Schrei Performance
5. Baroque Bodies: Agency, Expression and Movement
6. The Apes of God and the World of the Commedia


About the Author

Kate Armond is Lecturer in International Modernism at the University of Essex and before that she taught literature and critical theory at UEA. Her research interests include Modernist literature, Marxist theory, comparative literature, German Expressionism, visual culture and performance theory. Her work has been published in Textual Practice, Modernist Cultures, The Journal of Wyndham Lewis Studies and Utopia: The Avant-garde, Modernism and (Im)possible Life.

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