Modernist Studies Ireland: Works in Progress Seminar: “Non-Canonical Modernism(s)”. Monday, October 21st, 4pm. Maynooth University.

Modernist Studies Ireland are delighted to announce their Works in Progress Seminar on Monday, October 21st at 4pm. The event will take place in the Arts and Humanities Institute Seminar Room (Iontas Building, 1.33).

This will be the first Modernist Studies Ireland event to be hosted outside of NUI Galway, where all of the organisation’s founding members are based. The theme is “Non-Canonical Modernism(s)”.

Dr Michael Connerty (IADT) will talk about technological/sci-fi elements of popular modernism in the understudied comic-strip work of Jack B. Yeats. And Ellen Howley (DCU) will talk about modernist influences on representations of the sea in post-war Caribbean poetry.

Speaker’s Abstracts

Mechanical Animals, Flying Men & Educated Monkeys: Technology and Modernity in the Comic Strips of Jack B. Yeats.

For more than two decades from the early 1890s onwards, Jack B. Yeats contributed hundreds of comic strips to London-based publications such as Comic Cuts, The Big Budget and The Halfpenny Comic, and was a pioneer in the techniques of British comic strip art and the developing grammar of sequential graphic narrative. The absence of this significant corpus of comic strip material from the majority of critical texts is attributable to a number of factors, chiefly the positioning of Yeats within a specifically Irish art-historical discourse, and, arguably, a critical condescension towards the comic strip form itself.

This paper focuses on examples that illustrate two broad themes in his comic strips: his celebration and adaptation of popular cultural forms, such as the circus and music hall, and his engagement with modernity in the form of sentient automata, commodified technology and other tropes associated with the nascent science fiction genre.

“The roar of seas of a lost ocean”: Caribbean Poets Writing the Sea

For Guyanese writer Wilson Harris, the modern in a Caribbean context “implies an ongoing and unceasing re-visionary and innovative strategy that has its roots in the deepest layers of the past that still address us” (48). The reverberations of the past resound in poetry written from and about the region as writers constantly work towards a poetic language that replicates their reality. This paper examines work from poets whose engagement with what Harris identifies as modernity leads them to the sea, to write its history, its language, its unknowability.

Examining work from a range of Caribbean writers including, Derek Walcott, Grace Nichols and NourbeSe Philip, this paper highlights the place the sea holds in modern Caribbean poetry. In the sea’s disrupted and disrupting waters, these writers find a space to reflect on both their pasts and their present, while also discovering a watery poetics that guides their writing