Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-dc8c957cd-n2smj Total loading time: 0.314 Render date: 2022-01-29T04:54:26.381Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

Article contents

Metamodernism: Narratives of Continuity and Revolution

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 October 2020


The task for contemporary literature is to deal with the legacy of modernism.

—Tom McCarthy (2010)

A century separates us from an iconic moment of aesthetic metamorphosis: 1914 witnessed the appearance of James Joyce's Dubliners, Gertrude Stein's Tender Buttons, Mina Loy's “Parturition,” and the vorticist journal Blast. It was the year Dora Marsden and Harriet Shaw Weaver, aided by Ezra Pound, started the literary review the Egoist in London and Condé Nast and Frank Crowninshield launched Vanity Fair in New York. Arnold Schoenberg's atonal symphonic works assaulted classical sonorities; Wassily Kandinsky elevated the purity of geometric form above the functional work of visual representation. Most crucially, 1914 saw the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo and the subsequent outbreak of the First World War. Cutting a bloody, four-year swath across Europe, the war took almost forty million lives and rendered all subsequent formal innovation inseparable from cultural devastation: thus the intricate, ruptured literary architectures of The Waste Land (1922), Ulysses (1922), and To the Lighthouse (1927).

The Changing Profession
Copyright © Modern Language Association of America, 2014

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Abravanel, Genevieve. Americanizing Britain: The Rise of Modernism in the Age of the Entertainment Empire. New York: Oxford UP, 2012. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Alexander, Neal, and Moran, James. Regional Modernisms. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2013. Print.Google Scholar
Andrade, Susan Z.Representing Slums and Home: Chris Abani's GraceLand.” James, Legacies 225–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Appadurai, Arjun. Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1996. Print.Google Scholar
A.S.A.P. Mission Statement.” ASAP. Assn. for the Study of the Arts of the Present, n.d. Web. 31 Oct. 2013.Google Scholar
Attridge, Derek. J. M. Coetzee and the Ethics of Reading: Literature in the Event. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2005. Print.Google Scholar
Attridge, Derek. The Singularity of Literature. London: Routledge, 2004. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Baucom, Ian. Out of Place: Englishness, Empire, and the Locations of Identity. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1999. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Begam, Richard, and Moses, Michael Valdez, eds. Modernism and Colonialism: British and Irish Literature, 1899-1939. Durham: Duke UP, 2007. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Berman, Jessica. Modernist Commitments: Ethics, Politics, and Transnational Modernism. New York: Columbia UP, 2011. Print.Google Scholar
Berman, Jessica. “Neither Mirror nor Mimic: Transnational Reading and Indian Narratives in English.” The Oxford Handbook of Global Modernisms. Ed. Wollaeger, Mark with Eatough, Matt. New York: Oxford UP, 2012. 205–27. Print.Google Scholar
Bewes, Timothy. The Event of Postcolonial Shame. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2010. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bluemel, Kristin, ed. Intermodernism: Literary Culture in Mid-Twentieth-Century Britain. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2009. Print.Google Scholar
Boehmer, Elleke. Empire, the National, and the Postcolonial, 1890-1920. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2005. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brown, Erica, and Grover, Mary, eds. Middlebrow Literary Culture: The Battle of the Brows, 1920-1960. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2011. Print.Google Scholar
Butler, Christopher. Early Modernism: Literature, Music, and Painting in Europe, 1900-1916. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1994. Print.Google Scholar
Caughie, Pamela L., ed. Disciplining Modernism. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2009. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chakrabarty, Dipesh. Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2000. Print.Google Scholar
Cheng, Anne Anlin. Second Skin: Josephine Baker and the Modern Surface. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2011. Print.Google Scholar
Detloff, Madelyn. The Persistence of Modernism: Loss and Mourning in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2009. Print.Google Scholar
Doyle, Laura. Bordering on the Body: The Racial Matrix of Modern Fiction. New York: Oxford UP, 1995. Print.Google Scholar
Doyle, Laura, and Winkiel, Laura, eds. Geomodernisms: Race, Modernism, Modernity. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2005. Print.Google Scholar
Dubreuil, Laurent. “What Is Literature's Now?” New Literary History 38.1 (2007): 4370. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Esty, Jed. The Shrinking Island: Modernism and National Culture in England. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2003. Print.Google Scholar
Friedman, Susan Stanford. “Definitional Excursions: The Meanings of Modern/Modernity/Modernism.” Modernism/Modernity 8.3 (2001): 493513. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Friedman, Susan Stanford. “Periodizing Modernism: Postcolonial Modernities and the Space/Time Borders of Modernist Studies”. Modernism/Modernity 13.3 (2006): 425–43. Print.Google Scholar
Friedman, Susan Stanford. “Planetarity: Musing Modernist Studies”. Modernism/Modernity 17.3 (2010): 471–99. Print.Google Scholar
Friedman, Susan Stanford. “World Modernisms, World Literature, and Comparativity”. The Oxford Handbook of Global Modernisms. Ed. Wollaeger, Mark with Eatough, Matt. New York: Oxford UP, 2012. 499525. Print.Google Scholar
Gaonkar, Dilip Parameshwar, ed. Alternative Modernities. Durham: Duke UP, 2001. Print.Google Scholar
Gasiorek, Andrzej. Postwar British Fiction: Realism and After. London: Arnold, 1995. Print.Google Scholar
Gasiorek, Andrzej. “A Renewed Sense of Difficulty': E. M. Forster, Iris Murdoch, and Zadie Smith on Ethics and Form.” James, Legacies 170–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gikandi, Simon. Maps of Englishness: Writing Identity in the Culture of Colonialism. New York: Columbia UP, 1996. Print.Google Scholar
Gikandi, Simon. “Modernism in the World”. Modernism/Modernity 13.3 (2006): 419–24. Print.Google Scholar
GoGwilt, Christopher, The Passage of Literature: Genealogies of Modernism in Conrad, Rhys, and Pramoedya. New York: Oxford UP, 2010. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Green, Matthew. “Dreams of Freedom: Magical Realism and Visionary Materialism in Okri and Blake”. Romanticism 15.1 (2009): 1832. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hart, Matthew. Nations of Nothing but Poetry: Modernism, Transnationalism, and Synthetic Vernacular Writing. New York: Oxford UP, 2010. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hayot, Eric. On Literary Worlds. New York: Oxford UP, 2012. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jackson, Kevin. Constellation of Genius: 1922: Modernism Year One. London: Hutchinson, 2012. Print.Google Scholar
James, David, ed. The Legacies of Modernism: Historicizing Postwar and Contemporary Fiction. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2012. Print.Google Scholar
James, David. Modernist Futures: Innovation and Inheritance in the Contemporary Novel. New York: Cambridge UP, 2012. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jameson, Fredric. “Modernism and Imperialism.” Nationalism, Colonialism, and Literature. By Terry Eagleton, Jameson, and Edward Said. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1990. 4366. Print.Google Scholar
Jameson, Fredric. The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1981. Print.Google Scholar
Josipovici, Gabriel. What Ever Happened to Modernism? New Haven: Yale UP, 2010. Print.Google Scholar
Kaplan, Cora. Victoriana: Histories, Fictions, Criticism. New York: Columbia UP, 2007. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Larmore, Charles E. Romantic Legacies. New York: Columbia UP, 1996. Print.Google Scholar
Lazarus, Neil. The Postcolonial Unconscious. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2011. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Levenson, Michael. Modernism. New Haven: Yale UP, 2011. Print.Google Scholar
Levin, Harry. “What Was Modernism?” Massachusetts Review 1.4 (1960): 609–30. Print.Google Scholar
Lewis, Wyndham. “The End of Abstract Art.” New Republic 31 Mar. 1940: n. pag. Web. 1 Aug. 2012.Google Scholar
Lewis, Wyndham. Satire and Fiction. London: Arthur, 1930. Print. Enemy Pamphlets 1.Google Scholar
Lewis, Wyndham. Tarr. Ed. Klein, Scott. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2010. Print.Google Scholar
Lewis, Wyndham. Time and Western Man. Ed. Edwards, Paul. Santa Barbara: Black Sparrow, 1993. Print.Google Scholar
Lyon, Janet. “On the Asylum Road with Woolf and Mew”. Modernism/Modernity 18.3 (2011): 551–74. Print.Google Scholar
Majumdar, Saikat. Prose of the World: Modernism and the Banality of Empire. New York: Columbia UP, 2013. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mao, Douglas, and Walkowitz, Rebecca L.Introduction: Modernisms Bad and New.” Bad Modernisms. Ed. Mao, and Walkowitz, . Durham: Duke UP, 2006. 118. Print.Google Scholar
Mao, Douglas, and Walkowitz, Rebecca L. “The New Modernist Studies”. PMLA 123.3 (2008): 737–48. Print.Google Scholar
Marcus, Laura. “The Legacies of Modernism.” The Cambridge Companion to the Modernist Novel. Ed. Shiach, Morag. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2007. 8297. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Marx, John. The Modernist Novel and the Decline of Empire. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2005. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Matz, Jesse. Lasting Impressions: Impressionism Now. New York: Columbia UP, forthcoming.Google Scholar
Matz, Jesse. “Pseudo-Impressionism?” James, Legacies 114–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
McCarthy, Tom. C. London: Cape, 2010. Print.Google Scholar
McCarthy, Tom. “To Ignore the Avant Garde Is Akin to Ignoring Darwin.” Interview by James Purdon. Observer 31 July 2010: n. pag. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.Google Scholar
McGurl, Mark. The Program Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2009. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Miller, Tyrus. Late Modernism: Politics, Fiction, and the Arts between the World Wars. Berkeley: U of California P, 1999. Print.Google Scholar
Modernist Studies Association. Modernist Studies Assn., n.d. Web. 1 Oct. 2013.Google Scholar
Moses, Michael Valdez. “Disorientalism: Conrad and the Imperial Origins of Modernist Aesthetics.” Begam and Moses 43-69. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Orwell, George. “Inside the Whale.” “Inside the Whale” and Other Essays. London: Penguin, 1957. 950. Print.Google Scholar
Perloff, Marjorie. Twenty-First-Century Modernism: The “New” Poetics. Oxford: Blackwell, 2002. Print.Google Scholar
Punday, Daniel. Five Strands of Fictionality: The Institutional Construction of Contemporary American Fiction. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 2010. Print.Google Scholar
Rabaté, Jean-Michel. 1913: The Cradle of the Modern. Oxford: Wiley, 2007. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Randall, Bryony. Modernism, Daily Life, and the Everyday. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2008. Print.Google Scholar
The Rite of Spring at One Hundred.” Carolina Performing Arts. Carolina Performing Arts, n.d. Web. 1 Nov. 2013.Google Scholar
Rogers, Gayle. Modernism and the New Spain: Britain, Cosmopolitan Europe, and Literary History. New York: Oxford UP, 2012. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ross, Stephen. “Uncanny Modernism; or, Analysis Interminable.” Caughie 3252.Google Scholar
Said, Edward. Culture and Imperialism. New York: Vintage, 1993. Print.Google Scholar
Samolsky, Russell. Apocalyptic Futures: Marked Bodies and the Violence of the Text in Kafka, Conrad, and Coetzee. New York: Fordham UP, 2011. Print.Google Scholar
Schoenbach, Lisi. Pragmatic Modernism. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2012. Print.Google Scholar
Scholes, Robert, and Wulffman, Clifford. Modernism in the Magazines: An Introduction. New Haven: Yale UP, 2010. Print.Google Scholar
Seshagiri, Urmila. “Modernist Ashes, Postcolonial Phoenix: Jean Rhys and the Evolution of the English Novel in the Twentieth Century.” Modernism/Modernity 13.3 (2006): 487505. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Seshagiri, Urmila. Race and the Modernist Imagination. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2010. Print.Google Scholar
Shiach, Morag. “Periodizing Modernism.” The Oxford Handbook of Modernisms. Ed. Brooker, Peter et al. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2010. 1730. Print.Google Scholar
Smith, Zadie. “Two Directions for the Novel.” Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays. London: Hamilton, 2009. 7196. Print.Google Scholar
Thacker, Andrew. Moving through Modernity: Space and Geography in Modernism. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2003. Print.Google Scholar
Thaggert, Miriam. Images of Black Modernism. Amherst: U of Massachusetts P, 2010. Print.Google Scholar
Underwood, Ted. Why Literary Periods Mattered: Historical Contrast and the Prestige of English Studies. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2013. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Vadde, Aarthi. “National Myth, Transnational Memory: Ondaatje's Archival Method.” The Contemporarys Novel: Imagining the Twenty-First Century. Ed. Timothy Bewes. Spec. issue of Novel: A Forum on Fiction 45.2 (2012): 257–75. Print.Google Scholar
Walkowitz, Rebecca L.Close Reading in an Age of Global Writing.” Modern Language Quarterly 74.2 (2013): 171–95. Print.Google Scholar
Walkowitz, Rebecca L. Cosmopolitan Style: Modernism beyond the Nation. New York: Columbia UP, 2006. Print.Google Scholar
Williams, Raymond. “When Was Modernism?The Politics of Modernism: Against the New Conformists. Ed. Pinkney, Tony. London: Verso, 1987. 3135. Print.Google Scholar
Winkiel, Laura. “Postcolonial Avant-Gardes.” Decentering the Avant-Garde: Towards a New Topography of the International Avant-Garde. Ed. Backstrom, Per and Berg, Hubert van der. Atlanta: Rodopi, 2013. 89108. Print.Google Scholar
Woods, Tim. “A Complex Legacy: Modernism's Uneasy Discourse of Ethics and Responsibility.” James, Legacies 153–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Woolf, Virginia. “The Leaning Tower.” The Moment and Other Essays. New York: Harcourt, 1948. 128–54. Print.Google Scholar
Woolf, Virginia. To the Lighthouse. 1927. New York: Harcourt, 2005. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ziarek, Ewa. Feminist Aesthetics and the Politics of Modernism. New York: Columbia UP, 2012. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cited by

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Metamodernism: Narratives of Continuity and Revolution
Available formats

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Metamodernism: Narratives of Continuity and Revolution
Available formats

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Metamodernism: Narratives of Continuity and Revolution
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *