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Modernism, Truth, and the Canon of First World War Literature

Modernism, Truth, and the Canon of First World War Literature Ann-Marie Einhaus The First World War is a prominent point of convergence for modernist studies and early twentieth-century cultural studies. Both disciplines have scrutinised the impact of the First World War on literary and cultural production, with an increasing willingness to extend their scope to hitherto neglected sources. The academic canon was subject to an ongoing process of revision begun by feminist, queer and Marxist critics in the 1980s. In the wake of a rise in social and cultural historiography, historical inquiry into the war has moreover shifted from mere ‘factual’ evidence to the extensive consideration of literary sources. However, the questions put to these sources and their evaluation as material for academic study often differ widely between the two fields. This article interrogates literary and historical practices regarding ‘modernist’ writing on the First World War, and illustrates the at times considerable tensions between the two approaches by a new critical reading of Mary Borden’s The Forbidden Zone (1929).1 Borden’s work is representative of both contemporary and retrospective expectations connected with literary testimonies of the First World War, and the second half of this article argues that current readings of her work are affected by conflicting demands on http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Modernist Cultures Edinburgh University Press

Modernism, Truth, and the Canon of First World War Literature

Modernist Cultures , Volume 6 (2): 296 – Oct 1, 2011

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Publisher
Edinburgh University Press
Copyright
© Edinburgh University Press 2011
Subject
Articles; Film, Media and Cultural Studies
ISSN
2041-1022
eISSN
1753-8629
DOI
10.3366/mod.2011.0017
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Ann-Marie Einhaus The First World War is a prominent point of convergence for modernist studies and early twentieth-century cultural studies. Both disciplines have scrutinised the impact of the First World War on literary and cultural production, with an increasing willingness to extend their scope to hitherto neglected sources. The academic canon was subject to an ongoing process of revision begun by feminist, queer and Marxist critics in the 1980s. In the wake of a rise in social and cultural historiography, historical inquiry into the war has moreover shifted from mere ‘factual’ evidence to the extensive consideration of literary sources. However, the questions put to these sources and their evaluation as material for academic study often differ widely between the two fields. This article interrogates literary and historical practices regarding ‘modernist’ writing on the First World War, and illustrates the at times considerable tensions between the two approaches by a new critical reading of Mary Borden’s The Forbidden Zone (1929).1 Borden’s work is representative of both contemporary and retrospective expectations connected with literary testimonies of the First World War, and the second half of this article argues that current readings of her work are affected by conflicting demands on

Journal

Modernist CulturesEdinburgh University Press

Published: Oct 1, 2011

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