Modernism/modernity Print Plus Cluster Proposal
2020 marked the 100th anniversary of “modernism’s lost masterpiece,” Hope Mirrlees’s Paris: A Poem. Published by Hogarth Press in the spring of 1920, and typeset by Virginia Woolf, this ground-breaking long poem maps the range of continental avant-garde aesthetics of the 1910s even as it both engages and anticipates the mythical methods and epic conventions of James Joyce, Ezra Pound, and T.S. Eliot.
This proposed Modernism/modernity Print Plus cluster hopes to present new work that reassesses the singularity of Mirrlees’s poem as well as its place within the broader network of literary modernism and early twentieth-century poetics. While scholars such as Julia Briggs, who produced the first annotated edition of the poem in Gender in Modernism: New Geographies, Complex Intersections (2007), and Sandeep Parmar, who edited the first critical edition of Mirrlees’s Collected Poems (2011), have done the important archival and recovery work that restored Paris to critical attention, Peter Howarth solidified Paris’s position within the modernist “canon” with his chapter, “Why Write Like This?,” in The Cambridge Introduction to Modernist Poetry (2011), which introduces readers to the disorienting pleasures of modernism’s most famous poems through an extended analysis of Mirrlees’s “difficult” work (16). Building on these approaches, this cluster aims to initiate a new wave of Paris scholarship that complicates and extends the poem’s aesthetic, cultural, and socio-political import on the occasion of its centenary.
This Print+ cluster will demonstrate how engagement with Paris speaks not only to Mirrlees’s text but also to broader interests within modernist studies. We therefore seek a selection of articles that both pay tribute to the exceptionality of the poem and insist on the “complex intersections” that resist canonical trends of exceptionalizing marginalized writers like Mirrlees. While some interventions may consider detailed aspects of the poem, its influences, and its legacies, others may focus on Mirrlees’s work more generally and in relation to her contemporaries. Additionally, given M/m’s long history of engagement with Eliot and the The Waste Land, especially their recent Print+ cluster on “Reading ‘The Waste Land’ with the #MeToo Generation,” we seek contributions that help us to respond to the urgent questions: why Paris and why now? As an alternative to revisiting TWL’s position within the High-Modernist canon, can we, to quote the editor of the Eliot cluster, examine the ways in which Paris “acts as a kind of test case of how the #MeToo generation can change the way we read”? How might this poem spark new conversations about the relation among gender, sexuality, and power in modernist studies?
Our hope is that a Print+ cluster, which will be widely accessible and allow for an unprecedented engagement with the poem through the platform’s ability to include digital material (archives, visual culture), together with the recent publication of a new, smaller, and more affordable edition of the poem (Faber & Faber 2020), will facilitate the inclusion of Paris on more syllabi, igniting future waves of scholarship centered on this long under-appreciated poem and its networks.
Topics may include:
The history of the circulation of Mirrlees’s poem
The poem in relation to its (anti)colonial and Imperial interventions
Paris in dialogue with non-Western Modernisms
Mirrlees and translation
Cinema and visual culture
The city poem
Psychoanalysis and poetic form
Politics of poetics/aesthetics
Gender and sexuality in Paris
*Abstracts (~250 words) due: October 1 2021. Please send to editors Nell Wasserstrom and Rio Matchett at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com with the subject line “Hope Mirrlees Print+ Submission.” The editors also welcome queries.