Real Modernisms: Revising (Meta)Fictional Modernist Narratives

As you know, I gave a keynote talk at Mythmoot IV last weekend. Here’s the abstract:

In 1997, Brian Richardson’s “Remapping the Present” questioned the standard metanarrative of twentieth-century fiction, which plots a move from realism through modernism to postmodernism. This is a poor model, created by selectivity, marginalizing important authors, works, forms, and developments, ignoring the “radical heterogeneity and ‘untimeliness’ of twentieth-century literary practice” (292). Richardson proposes an alternate narrative, but his is also artificially selective, ignoring actual writing and reading habits. In this talk, I will re-narrate the story of twentieth-century British fiction, examining publication histories, reading behaviors, and measures of novels’ popularity and perceived quality. This approach recontextualizes the “Inklings” as essential contributors to the modernist narrative and puts them in dialogue with their critically-acclaimed High Modernist contemporaries.

Of course, the talk evolved greatly in the writing of it! Here is the video:

And here (for those who were asking) is my Works Cited page:

Adiseshiah, Siân Helen, and Rupert Hildyard, editors. Twenty-First Century Fiction: What Happens Now. Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

Bluemel, Kristin, editor. Intermodernism: Literary Culture in Mid-Twentieth-Century Britain. Edinburgh University Press, 2009. JSTOR,

Bratman, David. A Handlist of Books by the Inklings. Accessed 27 May 2017.

—. “David Bratman’s Home Page.” David Bratman, Accessed 27 May 2017.

Carpenter, Humphrey. The Inklings: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, and Their Friends by Humphrey Carpenter. Ballantine Books, 1978.

Garth, John. Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-Earth. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2003.

Glyer, Diana Pavlac. The Company They Keep: C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as Writers in Community. The Kent State University Press, 2008.

Hapgood, Lynne, and Nancy L. Paxton, editors. Outside Modernism: In Pursuit of the English Novel, 1900-30. 2000 edition, Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

Heller, Scott. “New Life for Modernism.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, Nov. 1999. The Chronicle of Higher Education,

“Introduction to Lexomics.” Wheaton College Lexomics, 9 May 2017,

Lewis, C. S. Perelandra. Macmillan & Company, 1977.

Malcolm, Janet. “Someone Says Yes to It.” The New Yorker, 13 June 2005, p. 148.

Mao, Douglas, and Rebecca L. Walkowitz, editors. Bad Modernisms. Duke University Press, 2006.

Miller, Tyrus. Late Modernism: Politics, Fiction, and the Arts Between the World Wars. University of California Press, 1999. EBSCOhost,

Monte, Steven. “Late Modernism: Politics, Fiction, and the Arts between the World Wars . Tyrus Miller.” Modern Philology, vol. 98, no. 3, Feb. 2001, pp. 532–536.

O’Connor, Maureen. “Outside Modernism.” English Literature in Transition 1880-1920, vol. 45, no. 4, 2002, p. 443.

“Poets of the First World War.” Westminster Abbey, Accessed 27 May 2017.

Richardson, Brian. “Remapping the Present: The Master Narrative of Modern Literary History and the Lost Forms of Twentieth-Century Fiction.” Twentieth Century Literature, vol. 43, no. 3, 1997, pp. 291–309.

“Ruth Pitter.” Wikipedia, 30 May 2016. Wikipedia,

Schwartz, Sanford. C. S. Lewis on the Final Frontier: Science and the Supernatural in the Space Trilogy. 1 edition, Oxford University Press, 2009.

Shippey, Tom. J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century. 1st edition, Mariner Books, 2002.

So, Richard Jean, and Hoyt Long. “Network Analysis and the Sociology of Modernism.” Boundary 2, vol. 40, no. 2, June 2013, pp. 147–182.

Wood, Ralph C. Tolkien among the Moderns. University of Notre Dame Pess, 2015.


About Sørina Higgins

Sørina Higgins is Editor-in-Chief of the Signum University Press. She holds a Ph.D. in English from Baylor University. Dr. Higgins is currently co-editing a volume on the ethical turn in speculative fiction with Dr. Brenton Dickieson and previously edited an academic essay collection entitled The Inklings and King Arthur. She is also the author of the blog The Oddest Inkling, devoted to a systematic study of Charles Williams’ works. As a creative writer, Sørina has a volume of short stories, A Handful of Hazelnuts, forthcoming from Signum’s own press. Outside of academia, Sørina enjoys practicing yoga, playing with her cats, cooking, baking, podcasting, gardening, dancing, and ranting about the state of the world.
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1 Response to Real Modernisms: Revising (Meta)Fictional Modernist Narratives

  1. Pingback: Trying to love Modernism – Idiosophy

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