Modernism at the front. Modernist temporality in British war journals and magazines

Start - End 
2014 - 2018 (ongoing)
Research Focus 
Research Period 
Additional tags 
English literature
World war



An important feature of literary modernism is its emphasis on ‘the now,’ its insistence on the present and the immediacy of experience. Modernist writers rejected the nineteenth-century fascination with the past and heralded a new present. Marinetti’s 1909 ‘Futurist manifesto’ is the most famous example of such a stance but it is also found in British pre-war modernist writings. Some critics, e.g. Jay Winter, have argued that WWI interrupted this. Wartime writing, Winter argues, reverts to the traditional vocabularies of mourning to be found in classical and romantic writing. This project seeks to modify this theory of the backward gaze by demonstrating the continued insistence on ‘the now’ in wartime writing. It focuses on British periodicals published at the front (trench journals) and in Britain. Its working hypothesis is that the context of these periodicals’ publication demands they be explored in relation to the pre-war modernist fascination with the now.



Phd Student(s)