Events Postgraduate

Modernist Magazines Research Seminar – Tuesday 9 December

The next session of the Modernist Magazines Research Seminar will be held at 6pm on Tuesday 9 December. Cathryn Setz (Oxford) will be leading a workshop session on the little magazine transition. Please see below for more information. The seminar is open to everyone interested in modernism.

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Modernist Magazines Research Seminar

Tuesday 9 December (6pm) – Room G34, Senate House, London


Cathryn Setz (Oxford)

transition (1927-1938) was the largest non-commercial “little magazine”, and a major cultural document of transatlantic avant-garde culture. Yet the journal has been overlooked. Joyce scholars know it to an extent for its seriatim publication of the ‘Work in Progress’, the ongoing project that would become Finnegans Wake. Beckett scholars are aware that some of the playwright’s earliest poems and prose appear in over six issues across transition’s eleven-year run. Those who work on Stein know that the editors joined together in outrage at her exaggerated claims at having “started” the magazine, and released a 1935 pamphlet entitled “Testimony Against Gertrude Stein.” Fewer people are aware that the journal produced the earliest translations of Kafka made available for a US audience, or that more than any other title, transition translated almost every surrealist and expressionist poet contemporary to and preceding its production. Though it carried a different ethos to its more committedly avant-gardist fellow projects, such as Broom and Secession, or the Little Review, Maria and Eugene Jolas’s magazine aspired to offer a cultural bridge between Europe and North America. Problematic though such a gesture might be, the journal nonetheless packaged literary culture for its audiences, inspiring such later figures as Djuna Barnes, Henry Miller, Saul Bellow, and William Gaddis.

In this workshop, Cathryn Setz will look at some of the reasons why transition has been critically sidelined. We will look at its famous so-called “manifesto”, “The Revolution of the Word”, and consider how the journal was both innovative and stale, in different ways. We will also read over some key texts and editorial configurations that might help orient a closer reading, discussing the methodological issues we share in working on modernist periodicals, and critical strategies as emergent in the scholarly field. Cathryn will then discuss some of the parameters of her book-length study of the magazine, with the aim of sharing a conceptual framework and research questions of interest to us all.