Centre for Studies in Literature

Symposium 2014: Public Modernism / Modernism's Public

Friday 9 May 2014
Centre for Studies in Literature, University of Portsmouth 

Keynote Speaker: Professor Andrew Thacker (Nottingham Trent University)

In recent decades modernist studies has seen an explosion of scholarship undermining the myth of modernist isolation from commercialised literary production, with critical attention focused largely on the engagement of modernists with mass markets and popular cultural forms.  Less attention has been given to how mass culture itself responded to and approached modernism. This one-day symposium seeks to explore the two-way relationship between artists and popular audiences; how modernists found a public and how the public also took ownership of modernism.  While modernist writers and artists played with or actively assimilated mass market tactics, the mass markets themselves played with or actively assimilated high modernist techniques.  As mass audiences became increasingly aware of the modernist revolution, modernism not only found its public face, but also met a public increasingly active in refiguring modernism’s profile.  This symposium aims to bring together scholars interested in debating alternative methods of approaching and interpreting interactions between mass markets, popular culture and modernism.


The following areas were explored:

  • Approaches to modernism in mass market periodicals
  • Individual modernist writers and the commercial press
  • Mass market publishing and modernist outputs
  • Advertising and modernist design
  • Modernism and celebrity
  • Modernism and fashion
  • Middlebrow culture
  • Methodological issues arising from the study of modernism in mass culture

Download a full programme for the event: A Public Modernism / Modernism's Public programme.