Modernist Experiments in Genre, Media, and Transatlantic Print Culture: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Modernist Experiments in Genre, Media, and Transatlantic Print Culture

1st Edition

By Jennifer Julia Sorensen


272 pages

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Hardback: 9781472458834
pub: 2016-12-12
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The years from 1890 through 1935 witnessed an explosion of print, both in terms of the variety of venues for publication and in the vast circulation figures and the quantity of print forums. Arguing that the formal strategies of modernist texts can only be fully understood in the context of the material forms and circuits of print culture through which they were produced and distributed, Jennifer Sorensen shows how authors and publishers conceptualized the material text as an object, as a body, and as an ontological problem. She examines works by Henry James, Jean Toomer, Djuna Barnes, Katherine Mansfield, and Virginia Woolf, showing that they understood acts of reading as materially mediated encounters. Sorensen draws on recent textual theory, media theory, archival materials, and paratexts such as advertisements, illustrations, book designs, drafts, diaries, dust jackets, notes, and frontispieces, to demonstrate how these writers radically redefined literary genres and refashioned the material forms through which their literary experiments reached the public. Placing the literary text at the center of inquiry while simultaneously expanding the boundaries of what counts as that, Sorensen shows that modernist generic and formal experimentation was deeply engaged with specific print histories that generated competitive media ecologies of competition and hybridization.

Table of Contents


List of Figures

Introduction: Material Formalism and Dynamic Materiality

I. Play with Periodical Pagescapes

Chapter One: Henry James Experiments with Print Culture Pagescapes in Transatlantic Periodicals

II. Bookish Bodies

Chapter Two: Reading the Body of Boni & Liveright’s & Djuna Barnes’s A Book

Chapter Three: Broken Arcs and Black Super-Vaudeville: Design and Dismemberment in the Boni & Liveright Production of Jean Toomer’s Cane

III. Mixed-Media Material Aesthetics

Chapter Four: Reframing the Book

Chapter Five: Mixed-Media Modernism and the Book-as-Object



About the Author

Jennifer J. Sorensen is Assistant Professor of English at Texas A&M, Corpus Christi, USA.

About the Series

Studies in Publishing History: Manuscript, Print, Digital

Studies in Publishing History: Manuscript, Print, Digital

Exploring the intersection of publishing history, book history, and literary and cultural studies, this series supports innovative work on the cultural significance and creative impact of printing and publishing history, including reception, distribution, and translation or adaptation into other media. Proposals are welcome for interdisciplinary and comparative studies by humanities scholars and librarians working in a variety of fields, including literature; book history, periodicals history, and print culture and the sociology of texts; theater, film, and performance studies; library history; history; gender studies; and cultural studies. Topics might include, among other possibilities, publishing histories of major figures or works, of regions, of genres, or studies of particular publishers or practices (including production, distribution, and reception) that hold special aesthetic, social, or political significance. We especially welcome focused argument-driven work that investigates and historicizes new or hybrid forms of text creation and dissemination, including nonprint materials, informal, specialized or private reception and distribution networks, the translation of TV and movies into print, and multimedia publishing practices.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Modern / 20th Century