Paper proposal

 For my term paper, I am interested in looking at the Dada movement, particularly from France. I also want to look at the way that L'Étoile de Mer relates to the Dada movement in the notion of drawing meaning from various aspects of disconnected life. For example, in one case in L'Étoile de Mer, the movie compares the woman's beauty to that of a chair or of glass, among other things which I think relates to the notion of Dada art and its ability to challenge normalcy because we don't ordinarily think of things such as chairs to be beautiful.

In one of the Dada publications, shown below, there is a sentence that says, “Ce qu'on écrit sur l'art est oeuvre d'éducation et dans ce sens elle peut exister.” Translated this means, “That which one writes on art is the work of education and in this sense it can exist.” I think this speaks to both the consumption of art and also the belief shown in both L'Étoile de Mer and the dada magazines of challenging the normal because looking at something that is normally perceived one way and then showing it in another facet to shock gives it a new meaning. By writing about a piece of art, it is then given a meaning because someone was forced to interpret it. In my paper, I will explore this idea- of how a reader, or in the case of L'Étolie de Mer, the viewer, is forced to process and redefine the way they think of the art shown and therefore the objects are given a new meaning.

Futurism and its Influence

For my final paper I would like to take a deeper look at the development of Futurism in modernist magazine culture.  Futurism was a primarily Italian art movement that effected many aspects of the art culture. Eventually the trend influenced other cultures as well, and art movements such as Dada, Vorticism and Surrealism used many of the qualities introduced in futurism as they expanded., which we looked at in class, has many images of Futuristic paintings by various artists.  This website has be quite helpful in my quest to better understand the qualities that make up a Futurist work.  Futurism is a blend of abstraction containing geometrical objects and represents energy through its constant movement.

BLAST, July 1915, cover depicts Voticism.  This cover makes bold statements about the war, even though the depiction is not that complicated.  This idea of Voticism was based heavily on Futurism.

In International Futurism in Arts and Literature, Gunter Berghaus states, “A number of recent studies on the reception of Futurism in France have shown, during the first years of the Futurist movement the French reactions towards its theory and artistic praxis were muted, critical, or even hostile” (281).

I would like to prove that even though Futurism stemmed from Cubism, Futurism was a huge influence on magazine print culture through the influence it produced on the art that came after it.


I would love feedback on how to narrow down this topic. Right now I am doing a lot of reading on many different kinds of art to figure out which direction I want to take my paper. 

Paris: Epicenter for Expats


            For my research paper, I also plan to use Sylvia Beach’s bookshop Shakespeare & Co., and her memoir by the same title as central figures in the formation of “Modernism” as we know it today. As both the publisher of the James Joyce’s Ulysses, regarded by most scholars as the quintessential Modernist text, and the owner of the her English bookshop in Paris, Ms. Beach stood at the epicenter of the Modernist movement in post-war Europe, bridging the gap between the hitherto separated Modernist circles in Britain and France.
            To execute this exploration I plan to first illustrate the separate camps in both Britain and France based on a number of key figures: from the British, this will include Ezra Pound (of course) as the central connecting figure between both American and British writers. Though I did not plan to include American writers in this analysis, I found that I could not fully explore the topic without mentioning Gertrude Stein, T.S. Eliot, and (later) Ernest Hemingway. For an analysis of these literary circles I had hoped to employ Gephi network analysis graph between these leading figures and the magazines to which they contributed, but I encountered difficulties with the randomness of timeline entries, which will not be able to account for the wide scope of works from these prolific authors of the period. I will, however, (hopefully) tease out certain connections with the software to at least point out correlations between certain authors.
            On the French side there are even less of these items on the timeline and I will therefore rely more heavily on Beach’s memoir, as well as issues of the NRF and Mercure de France to find connections between contributors as discussed in Beach’s memoir. These figures will center around Valery Larbaud, André Gide, Paul Valéry, and Jean Schlumberger.
            One of the paper’s overarching questions that I hope to address: “Why this move to Paris?” Since other Modernist authors chose to write elsewhere (T.S. Eliot in Britain, W.C.W in the U.S.), I want to address potential reasons for the expatriate community that formed in the 1920’s. I will approach this question from a pre-war perspective, discussing the tendency for Anglophones regard Francophone works as somewhat superior, then from a post-war perspective as a push toward internationalism. The broadness of this topic will require the discussion to remain secondary to the central figures, but will be addressed throughout. Finally, I will discuss potential reasons for the disintegration of the expatriate community, whether ideological, artistic, or simply a change physical proximity.


Upcoming Event: Unit for Criticism Lecture on Joyce and Derrida - Friday, April 22, 4 pm

Hey everyone,

I just wanted to share information about a lecture on Joyce and Derrida being given this Friday through the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory.



Carole and Gordon Segal Visiting Professor of Irish Literature at  Northwestern University

Fellow of the British Academy, University of York, UK

Friday, April 22 • 4 p.m.

English Room 160

“James Joyce Meets Jacques Derrida: Signature and Counter-signature”

It may seem an unlikely conjuncture: the most famous Irish writer of the first half of the twentieth century and the most famous French philosopher of the second half. Yet the writing of James Joyce was of immeasurable importance to Jacques Derrida in his questioning of the entire tradition of Western philosophy. This lecture will explore the relationship between the novelist and the thinker, and ask what we can learn from the way in which Derrida responds to Joyce, or, to put it in the former’s terms, what we are offered by Derrida’s inimitable countersigning of Joyce’s equally inimitable signature.

Lecture is free and open to the public.

This event is organized by Vicki Mahaffey and sponsored by the Department of English and the Unit for Criticism and Theory

AMERICA…YOUR MACHINERY IS TOO MUCH FOR ME: The Influence of Paris on American Writers between 1945 and 1965


Note on My Project:  This essay is a little unorthodox in a few ways.  First, it will cover few, if any, of the magazines discussed during the semester.  Second, it will take the form of a detailed chronology, a "syn-chronology".  Formally, the essay will be divided into three columns in order to aid the reader (and me) to both visually and temporally comprehend the literary interwinings of the era at hand. For now, I'm simply posting  the introduction to the piece and a picture of what the essay will look like.
After the Second World War, into the 1950’s and 1960’s there is a boom of little literary magazines and small presses in New York and Paris. These magazines and presses are publishing young, experimental writers. They are dynamic. Many are short-lived ventures, while others are still with us. In a lot of ways, this trend mirrors the avant-garde European magazine culture of the teens, 1920’s, and 1930’s. Like this earlier era of literary output and energy, Paris is a major influence, an artistic epicenter. To track and understand the social milieu in which this new American literary scene prospered, this essay, in the form of a chronology, takes a synchronic glimpse at the writers, magazines, presses, and literary influences in New York and Paris between 1945 and 1965, while keeping the pulse of the general political and cultural happenings of the era.
Focusing on American writers and publications of this era with both New York and Paris connections, this piece necessarily highlights the Beat and New York School writers. The chronology will bring to the surface important personal and publishing connections to reveal the roots of these literary movements as firmly bedded in Modernist French literature and also heavily influenced by the previous, “Lost Generation” of expatriate American writers. 
Major traces the “lost generation” and of Paris’s vibrant literary were all but vanished by the by 1945. Little Anglophone magazines like The Transatlantic Review, Contact, and Transition were long gone. Sylvia Beach’s bookshop, Shakespeare and Company— hangout of Hemingway, Joyce, Stein, Ford Madox Ford and others in the twenties and thirties—was forced to shut its doors during the German occupation. People simply left the country during occupation. After the war, however, doors were opening for a younger generation of American writers. The GI Bill was passed, allowing former servicemen and writers, like Lawrence Ferlinghetti, to study at the Sorbonne. Others, like John Ashbery, came to France on Fulbright scholarships. For these and other left-leaning and countercultural artists, Paris is an artistic haven, free from the repression of McCarthyism and Cold War anxieties that marked the states in the late forties and fifties. The political and cultural disaffection is palpable in Allen Ginsberg’s then very controversial, demonized, banned and highly praised book, Howl and Other Poems, and no more so than his poem “America,” which taps the zeitgeist of young, hip, American intellectuals of the 1950’s. Here are some opening lines.
America I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing.
America two dollars and twentyseven cents January
         17, 1956
I can’t stand my own mind.
America when will we end the human war?
Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb.
I don’t feel good don’t bother me…
Your machinery is too much for me.
You made me want to be a saint
There must be some other way to settle this argument. (39)
It isn’t surprising, after reading these lines, that Ginsberg escaped to Paris from 1957 to 1958. And can't we also hear an echo of Gertrude Stein in these lines too, when she said of Paris “It’s not what Paris gives you,” she said, “it’s what it doesn’t take away” (Sawyer-Laucanno 4). It is a push and pull relationship between the U.S. and France; America is pushing these artists out and the romance of Paris pulling them to over the Atlantic.
Of course, the push and pull is not so simple. While Parisian magazines like Merlin, Zero, Points, and Locus Solus and presses like Olympia are publishing avant-garde work by American authors that U.S. publishers and magazines would never consider, the New York scene is shifting as well. A vital antiestablishment literary coterie is developing in New York’s bohemian Greenwich Village and Lower East Side. In the span of these two decades (1945-1965) we find a transatlantic passing of writer’s and work as well as spirit, a passing of the torch from one generation of American writers to the next, from the lost generation to what Jack Kerouac so cleverly calls the “Found Generation” (Phillips 17).
* The Chronology will, of course, be filled in as my research progresses.  This is only an example of form.  It's an experiment.  We'll see how it pans out. 
Works Cited:
Ginsberg, Allen. "America." Howl and Other Poems.  San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1956. 39. Print.
Phillips, Lisa et al. Beat Culture and the New America. Paris: Flammarion. 1995. 17. Print.
Sawyer-Laucanno. The Continual Pilgrimage. New York: Grove Press, 1992. 4. Print


Man Ray & L'Etoile de mer

The first thing that I noticed about this film that relates to surrealism is the blurry aspect of the film which takes away the distinguishing features of the characters as they interact. Another surrealist aspect is the timeline sequence of the film. It cuts from scene to scene using slides in between that say things like, "After all." The non linear progression of the film is surrealist because it defies expectation. Also, the content is highly abstract and it's hard to follow the storyline, if there even is one. At various points we see two figures, underwater creatures and spinning objects. Everything about the content of the film is meant to be unexpected and out of the usual.


One line on a transition slide particularly struck me as odd when it said, "Beautiful, beautiful like a flower of glass." I thought that was odd because when I think of flowers, my mind doesn't immediately jump to glass. This an example of how the film defies expectations, in a simple version. The more obvious version is when it jumps around from part to part with no obvious progression. I really am interested in the blurry aspect most, though. It takes away all features that distinguish a person so that they can't be picked apart from anyone else. Therefore, the person could be anyone. 

Art in Blindman

 For this blog post, I decided to look at art in the Blindman No. 2. The art is very abstract, as we talked about in class previously when we looked at the R. Mutt piece. Likewise, in the issue there is a very abstract picture of a piano morphed with a person. The artwork makes me think that the editor of the magazine intended to slightly offend people because he uses a urinal to represent a fountain, which is a rather grotesque thought. He also uses a representation of a person morphed with a piano, making the person seem more like a machine. In doing this, he seemingly makes fun of the reader and his perception of the world. He suggests that the reader is one with a machine and challenges his view on the world.

Shakespeare and Company

 Reading Sylvia Beach's memoir was a glimpse into an exclusive club, like some kind of secret fraternity without the pomp and circumstance associated. To think of the movers and shakers, so to speak, of the modernist movement circling around a library/bookshop that is described in such a homely, inconsequential manner is startling. The fact that everyone seems a bit broke, that everyone seems to not have fully settled into their lives (and those that have act as if they don't care much for their own influence) really speaks to the connections that formed modernism. The connection between Beach and authors, both youn and established, are portrayed as loosely tied, uncompetitive, and unpretentious. They just seem to come and go easily. Yet being involved in the connections that defined modernist work is also seen to be exclusive. Those with the right friends, those with the right family (to pick up manuscripts from a trash can in the study), those who are willing and able to root up from America, abandon their careers as pianists and move wherever the rest of the authors are--those are the people who are shown to be involved in modernism.

Perhaps perfectly aligned with the exclusive yet relaxed tone of how relationships were formed in this era is the way that important authors are portrayed. They seem unconcerned with the work of others (or potentially with the progression of the movement as a whole); at times, they even seem unconcerned with their own work. Gertrude Stein jokes around and lounges all day, and cares only about her own books. Everyone else is unamusing. Ezra Pound walks into a library and goes around fixing things, invites Beach to look at all his hand-made furniture. There is a weird sense of indifference and lack of airs with the authors who molded art in an important time period. This speaks to modernism's reaction against the pomposity of old--those who molded the movement reflected its ideals in their everyday lives. 

"A Bookshop of My Own"

 In looking at Sylvia Beach's memoir, I was particularly drawn to "A Bookshop of My Own." I had the opportunity to visit the current Shakespeare & Company store in Paris when I studied there this past summer, and I didn't know much about it before I walked in. I honestly had no idea how famous it was but I loved everything about it from the time I stepped inside because it was just overrun with books everywhere, squeezed into every nook and cranny. Even the staircase had books lining the wall. The one thing that struck me as odd, however, was the fact that I could not find a single book in French. Even though I was in the heart of Paris, everything was in English. I didn't really understand it but reading this memoir now makes more sense of that.

I particularly like "A Bookshop of My Own" because it shows how passionate Beach was about opening a bookshop and the notion of lending books instead of selling them in a shop setting is not something I am otherwise familiar with. This combined with the shop holding solely American works makes it quite different, I think. It's also amazing that it's lasted so long in Paris because in my experience, the French are very proud people who don't necessarily embrace American culture invading their own. It's also just interesting that this place was not quite a bookstore and not quite a library, but sort of a hybrid of the two in how I think of them. 

Beach's Own Print Culture

 In these memoirs I really enjoyed reading the chapter “A Bookshop of My Own”, because it clearly depicts how much Beach wanted to create a setting for people to come and read and exchange ideas.  Her passion for her shop was very clear and her desire to create a community of readers and a place for passionate people, like herself, to come and enjoy themselves was inspiring. Her passion clearly worked because she says of her opening the shop, “…when the first friends began to show up. From that moment on, for over twenty years, they never gave me time to meditate”(21).  She created a place where people could lend and share each other’s books, which created a large community of readers.  This is something that I believe is a strong aspect of a print culture network. She tells readers that “each member had a small identity card, which he was supposed to produce when claiming the deposit as the expiration of his subscription, or when he was broke. This card was as good as a passport, so I was told”(22). Her membership granted access to a world of literature and exchange of ideas. This was her cultured network, and her community of readers.