This rigorous and original study combines theories of the public sphere, cinema, and visual culture with a growing body of critical work on affect. While modernist feeling is often described either as a reservoir of romantic inwardness or as an inhuman hostility to sentiment, Justus Nieland challenges these notions by approaching emotion through a poetics of modernist publicity. He argues that modernists championed feelings as primarily public products of modernity rather than as the private property of the self. Nieland's fresh account of the moderns' revolutionary designs on feeling also offers a new understanding of modernist publicness that includes self-presentation in popular theatrical spaces and public feelings enabled by performance, film, and other public amusements. Positing Charlie Chaplin as the embodiment of the modern \u0022eccentric,\u0022 Nieland explores the wildness of feeling in the work of many other key modernists, including Wyndham Lewis, Sergei Eisenstein, Marsden Hartley, E. E. Cummings, Joseph Cornell, Nathanael West, and Djuna Barnes.
Ranging widely across modernist literature, avant-garde film, popular performance, and the visual arts of the modernist period, this study demonstrates that eccentric feeling is the emotional climate of modern alienation. Nieland finds, at the eccentric heart of modernism, a critique of the role of emotional propriety in collective life and an ethos of public comportment. Feeling Modern recovers the affective and poetic dimensions of public life that make it ever worth living.
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(5817mm x 3887mm x 534mm)
University of Illinois Press
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
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Author Biography - Justus Nieland
Justus Nieland is an assistant professor of English at Michigan State University.