Journal of Modern Literature
American modernism, virtuality, pragmatist and vitalist philosophy, mass media, technology
Katherine Biers's Virtual Modernism: Writing and Technology in the Progressive Era outlines the virtual turn in early American modernism, arguing that modernist writers fashioned a “poetics of the virtual” in response to mass culture and its developing communications technologies before the First World War. The book examines five authors (Stephen Crane, Henry James, James Weldon Johnson, Djuna Barnes, Gertrude Stein), placing their work in conversation with various forms of mass media as well as the vitalist and pragmatist philosophy of Henri Bergson and William James that theorized the nature of virtual experience. Biers demonstrates how these writers both drew upon and countered new media technologies and the rising culture industry through the virtualizing capability of language. Encompassing literary analysis, social theory, and media history, Virtual Modernism considerably furthers the intermedial study of modernist culture and the growing scholarship on its interaction with a commercial public sphere.
Solan, Y. (2016). [Book Review] Modernism, Media, and the Virtual. Journal of Modern Literature, 39 (2), 105-110. https://doi.org/10.2979/jmodelite.39.2.07