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Race and the Modernist Imagination


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About the Author

Urmila Seshagiri is Associate Professor of English at the University of Tennessee.


"Seshagiri's book establishes that the modemist Anglo-British imagination is indeed a racial imagination. Not simply scanning for racism or racial blind spots, she instead reveals the myriad ways that these writers "carve out abundant textual space for multiple negotiations of racial difference" even as they simultaneously, and problematically, "render the terms of art inseparable from the terms of race." She thus sharpens our ability to see how these modemists negotiated their ways through the charged racial fields of the early twentieth century and, with varying effects and uncertain intentions, made art within that field. Timed perfectly to crown a decade of more limited studies of race in British modemism. Race and the Modernist Imagination meanwhile confirms the need to retain race as a key term in ongoing studies of class, sexuality, empire, and transnationalism in modemism."-Laura Doyle, Woolf Studies Review "Charting a history of racial theories from monogenism to polygenism, evolution, eugenics, and degeneration, Seshagiri shows how the underlying concern of racial discourses is chiefly that of continuity and heredity versus discontinuity and indeterminacy. Race and the Modernist Imagination is a vital and necessary contribution to literary and visual studies of British modernism. Its readings of a wide swath of canonical and noncanonical literature are, on the whole, incisive, remedying the fatal blind spot of race in the making of British modernism."-MLQ "Race and the Modernist Imagination is a provocative and altogether compelling demonstration of how race permeated British social attitudes and inspired the bravura experimentalism of modern art in various mediums and genres, from cultural sensations like the Ballets Russes to the avant-garde entertainments of the Cave of the Golden Calf and from the"high" modernist writings of Oscar Wilde, Joseph Conrad, Katherine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf, and Ford Madox Ford to the pulp excitements of the Dr. Fu Manchu mysteries. A work of remarkable range and insight, Urmila Seshagiri's book is indispensable for understanding the centrality of race in the making of modern culture."-Maria DiBattista, Princeton University

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