Marketing Modernisms

Self-Promotion, Canonization, Rereading
Kevin J.H. Dettmar and Stephen Watt, Editors
Perspectives on the production, packaging, and promotion of modernist literature--and its authors' reputations.


Rarely have examples of modernist literature--or other genres of literary expression--been looked upon or read as commodities within a market system; perhaps owing to the legacy of English Romanticism, we tend to think of our literature as 'pure,' untainted by any interaction with the world of commerce. Critical accounts of modernism and modernist writing are frequently theorized acrossthe divide between the project itself and the larger marketplace, the world of consumption. Marketing Modernisms calls into question this curious separation and seeks to provide answers through an understanding of the term 'marketing' that embraces material, intellectual, and ideological practices.

The essays in the book are concerned specifically with Anglo-American modernists and their potential readers, in both the popular audience and the academy. Examining the forms of promotion that occurred in the advertising departments of publishing houses, the editorial offices of literary magazines, and in the minds of modern writers, Marketing Modernisms brings to the fore little-known and often critically unpopular connections between canonical writers such as Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and Langston Hughes and the commercial marketplace they engaged.

The book's essays examine a range of provocative themes, including the strategies that modernists and their publishers employed to market their work, to fashion themselves as artists or celebrities, and to bridge the gap between an avante garde elite and the popular reader. Other essays explore the difficulties confronted by women, African American, and gay and lesbian writers in gaining literary acceptance and achieving commercial representation while maintaining the gendered, racial, and sexual aspects of their lives.

Contributors include Corinne E. Blackmer, Maurizia Boscagli and Edna Duffy, Kevin J.H. Dettmar and Stephen Watt, Leonard Diepeveen, Karen Jackson Ford, Barbara Green, Walter Kalaidjian, Timothy Materer, Daniel Morris, Christopher M. Mott, Michael Murphy, Cary Nelson, Joyce Wexler, and Jennifer Wicke.

Kevin J. H. Dettmar is Associate Professor of English, Clemson University. Stephen Watt is Professor of English, Indiana University.

Praise / Awards

  • "With this important collection of essays, editors Dettmar and Watt challenge the notably tenacious myth of Anglo-American literary modernism's removal from the commercial sphere."
    --International Review of Modernism

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 4 drawings, 10 photographs.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 1997
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-06641-4

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  • $45.95 U.S.