Keynote lecture: “Modernism’s Rhythmical Subjects.”
14th September, 15:00-16:30

Laura Marcus is Goldsmiths’ Professor of English Literature and Professorial Fellow of New College at the University of Oxford, and a Fellow of the British Academy.   She has published widely on nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature and culture. Her publications include Auto/biographical Discourses: Theory, Criticism, Practice (1994/1998); Virginia Woolf: Writers and their Work (1997, new edition 2004), The Tenth Muse: Writing about Cinema in the Modernist Period (2007), Dreams of Modernity: Psychoanalysis, Literature, Cinema (2014), and Autobiography: a very short introduction (2018).  She has edited or co-edited a number of volumes, including Sigmund Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams: New Interdisciplinary Essays (1999), The Cambridge History of Twentieth-Century English Literature (2005), Moving Modernisms: Motion, Technology and Modernity (Oxford University Press, 2016) and Late Victorian into Modern: 21 Approaches (Oxford University Press, 2016).

Current research projects include editions of Dorothy Richardson’s novel-sequence Pilgrimage for Oxford University Press and of Virginia Woolf’s short fiction for Cambridge University Press, and a book-length study of the concept of ‘rhythm’, at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and in a range of disciplinary contexts.


“Modernism’s Rhythmical Subjects”


In this talk I examine the intense focus on the concept of ‘rhythm’ in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. ‘Rhythm’ bears in important ways on the question of temporality, which is fully addressed by other conference papers, and has frequently been defined as a time-concept: one that articulates the time-consciousness of modernity. It can also, however, embody modernism’s turn to alternative temporalities, including the ‘out of time’, as in constructions of the primitive and the archaic. The talk further addresses the utopian dimensions of rhythmical life in the period, with their connections to communities of rhythmical subjects. One example I discuss is ‘the American rhythm’, as it was conceptualised and cultivated by writers and artists in the New Mexico of the early decades of the twentieth century.