Around 1979, scholars adopted the term “modernism” as a designation for the radical changes that took place in Anglo-American literature in the early twentieth century. The concept lent prestige to works and authors associated with it, encouraging the development of a vast body of criticism while blocking academic recognition of literature to which it does not readily apply. In Rethinking Modernism, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2003 and edited by Marianne Thormählen, fifteen scholars of modernism subject the concept to sceptical scrutiny as they revisit their special areas of expertise. The general question they all face is not so much “what was modernism?” — a familiar question — as “was/is modernism?” Their results show that although “modernism” remains a useful concept under certain conditions, for them — as for any reader of this book — modernism will never be quite the same again.
The book ends with a 20-page bibliography of works on modernism in two parts, compiled by the editor; the Literary Research/Recherche littéraire reviewer called it “comprehensive and invaluable”. Other reviewers have praised the book as forming a “both focused and vigorous” volume (The Yearbook of English Studies) and as offering noteworthy “considerations of category breakers and the construction of categories by the reception of literary works” (The Review of English Studies).