About the Modernism Lab
The Modernism Lab is a virtual space dedicated to collaborative research into the roots of literary modernism. We hope, by a process of shared investigation, to describe the emergence of modernism out of a background of social, political, and existential ferment. The project covers the period 1914-1926, from the outbreak of the first world war to the full-blown emergence of English modernism. The Lab has supported undergraduate classes on Modern Poetry, the Modern British Novel, Modernist London, and Joyce's Ulysses, and a graduate course in English and Comparative Literature, "Moderns, 1914-1926," as well as a class on modern German literature at the University of Notre Dame. Students in the classes have contributed materials to the website and used it as the platform for their research. The main components of the website are an innovative research tool, YNote, containing information on the activities of 24 leading modernist writers during this crucial period and a wiki consisting of brief interpretive essays on literary works and movements of the period.
The project as a whole aims to reconstitute the social and intellectual webs that linked these writers—correspondence, personal acquaintance, reading habits—and their influence on the major works of the period. We are interested, too, in broadening the canon of works studied in the period by paying attention to minor works by major authors, major works by minor authors, and works that may have been influential in their time but that are no longer much read.
Questions of particular importance for our research involve the modernists' engagement with their literary, intellectual, and historical context. We are particularly interested in Anglo-European literary relations. A typical question of this sort would be, "How did the translations of Dostoevsky by Constance Garnett influence English writing in the period?" Another major concern is the tracing of intellectual trends: "How and when did psychoanalysis make its impact felt in modernist writing?" We pay particular attention to the literary manifestations of a broader historical context, including the modernists' involvement with political movements such as socialism, feminism, liberalism, nationalism, and imperialism. Another major theme is the attitudes of these writers to formal religion and to alternatives such as atheism, neo-paganism, spiritualism, and the occult. The database traces the empirical information—such as references to Dostoevsky or Freud or Tagore in writers' correspondence—while the wiki offers interpretive accounts of how these influences played out in the modernists' formal and thematic concerns.
Our orientation towards ongoing research differentiates this project from other major websites devoted to humanistic research. One very successful model has been the electronic archive—a collection of primary documents made available on the web (e.g. the Modernist Journals Project or The Valley of the Shadow). In the case of our period, however, the potential archive of primary documents is massive. Questions of copyright also limit the applicability of this model. We therefore include a set of links to existing web-based archives, including the collections of the Beinecke Library, Project Gutenberg, and Google Book Search.
Another model, typified by the Victorian Web, offers authoritative essays on the period. We recognize the value of such an approach, but ours is more experimental. As a Laboratory, we hope to pose research questions and work together to answer them. In a prototype of Modernism Lab, for example, Pericles Lewis and his graduate students created an archive of information from the letters, biographies, and published statements of 12 major modernist writers during the four months immediately following Britain's declaration of war on August 4, 1914. This information served as the basis of Lewis's article, "Inventing Literary Modernism During the Great War," which argues that these authors' contemporary reaction to the war continued to shape modernism for years to come. The data is far from exhausted, however, and has been incorporated into our database, which now spans the years 1914-1926.
While we have expanded the chronological field of inquiry, we plan to continue using a comparative method going forward to address some of the following major research questions:
- What was the influence of figures associated with the modernist movement and techniques, like Dorothy Richardson and May Sinclair, who are less often read today than they once were?
- What role did Edwardian writers like Wells, Galsworthy, Bennett, and
Ford play in the development of literary modernism, before and after Woolf’s
critical essay "Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown"?
- What Russian literature were the modernists reading and how did this affect their sense of their own literary endeavors?
- How much did the modernists know about the development of psychoanalysis and at what level did they engage with this emergent discipline in their own work?
- How did formal techniques like free indirect discourse and stream of consciousness, and genres like the Bildungsroman and the travelogue, develop and change in this period?
The Modernism Lab is a collaborative project including over eighty graduate and undergraduate students at Yale and ten other universities.
The Modernism Lab has its roots in Pericles Lewis's courses on Modern British literature. In 2005, Professor Lewis received a grant from the ELI/Davis foundation to develop a website for the study of the Modern British Novel. That website became the nucleus for the Modernism Lab. Lewis's book The Cambridge Introduction to Modernism, based partly on his undergraduate teaching, became the basis for some of the first wiki entries posted on the Modernism Lab. His research has been supported by Hilles and Griswold fund grants at Yale. The first publication to grow directly out of the Modernism Lab is "Inventing Literary Modernism."
- Anthony Domestico (2011-2012)
- Tobias Boes, Editor for German Literature and Culture
Instructional Technology Group
- Ken Panko - Project Management, Instructional Design
firstname.lastname@example.org - 203.432.4585
- Yianni Yessios - Project Management, Technical Design
- Jacob Albert
- Annie Atura
- Anne Aufhauser
- Emily Cersonsky
- Michael Chan
- Patrick Clardy
- Olivia Coates
- Codi Coslet
- Samuel Cross
- Lee Dionne
- Jay Dockendorf
- Merrick Doll
- Kirsty Dootson
- Merve Emre
- Nathan Ernst
- Amy Fish
- Colleen Fleshman
- Elizabeth Freund
- Julia Galeota
- Joshua Gang
- Edgar Eduardo Garcia
- Andrew Gates
- Alex Gatlin
- Matthew Gerken
- Stephen Gilb
- Ruth Gilligan
- Charles Ginner
- Kevin Godshall
- Paul Goerhke
- Monika Grzesiak
- Len Gutkin
- Leo Hall
- Michael Hathaway
- James Heffernan
- Robert Higney
- Kira Hillman
- Steven Hobbs
- Lauren Holmes
- Qingyuan Jiang
- Daniel Jordan
- Andrew Karas
- Eike Kronshage
- Erik Larsen
- Elizabeth Legris
- Marcus Liddell
- Kenneth Ligda
- James Ross Macdonald
- Laura B. Marcus
- Katherine McComic
- Anne-Marie McManus
- Alexandria Miller
- Hayley Mohr
- Anna Moser
- Mariel Osetinksy
- Emily Petermann
- Annie Pfeifer
- Natalie Prizel
- Elizabeth Pugh
- Brad Rathe
- Heather Rhoda
- Meaghan Rubsam
- Glyn Salton-Cox
- Jesse Schotter
- Michael Shapiro
- Carolyn Sinsky
- Jack Skeffington
- Aaron Steiner
- Aleksandar Stevic
- William Stewart
- William Stone
- Jessica Svendsen
- Nathan Suhr-Sytsma
- Jessica Technow
- Samantha Terkeltaub
- Olena Tsykynovska
- Noah Warren
- Christina Walter
- Robert Wiene
- Andrew Williamson
- Matthew Wilsey
- Ben Zweifach
- Tobias Boes, University of Notre Dame
- Christopher Bush, Northwestern University
- Susan Chambers, Yale University
- Sarah Cole, Columbia University
- Kevin Dettmar, Pomona College
- Jed Esty, University of Pennsylvania
- Laura Frost, The New School
- Joseph Gordon, Yale University
- Langdon Hammer, Yale University
- Eric Hayot, Pennsylvania State University
- Pericles Lewis, Yale University
- Doug Mao, Johns Hopkins University
- Jesse Matz, Kenyon College
- Barry McCrea, Yale University
- Liesl Olson, University of Chicago Society of Fellows
- Siobhan Phillips, Harvard Society of Fellows
- Jessica Pressman, Yale University
- Martin Puchner, Columbia University
- Megan Quigley, Villanova University
- Ravit Reichman, Brown University
- Victoria Rosner, Texas A&M University
- Paul Saint-Amour, University of Pennsylvania
- Sam See, Yale University
- Rebecca L. Walkowitz, Rutgers University
- Mark Wollaeger, Vanderbilt University
- Alex Woloch, Stanford University
Initial funding was provided by a John and Yvonne McCredie Fellowship in Instructional Technology. On-going funding is being contributed by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the Paul Moore Memorial Fund for Instructional Innovation in Yale College, and the Provost's Office of Yale University. Technical support is provided by the Instructional Technology Group.
This entry on Yale's Teaching with Technology Tuesdays blog gives a description and video of the session led by Sam Alexander and Abe Parrish on the "Mapping Ulysses" project. Working with students in Pericles Lewis's Ulysses seminar in the Fall of 2010, Parrish and Alexander created an interactive digital map of Dublin in 1904. Using GIS software, the student participants began the project of mapping the plot, geography, and socio-political context of Joyce's masterpiece.
This article describes the genesis of the Modernism Lab as well as the plans for its expansion. In it, Professor Pericles Lewis also offers the guiding philosophy of the Lab and describes how he came to the idea of a collaborative research laboratory.
In this piece, Ioannis Yessios, the technical designer of the Yale Modernism Team, outlines the novelty and usefulness of Ynote. Ynote, an application conceived by Professor Lewis and designed by Yessios, is a digital database that enables the research of many different people to be housed in "a single repository that afford[s] a variety of ways to hierarchically stratify information." Ynote enables students and scholars to pool data and engage in truly collaborative research.
The Modernism Lab has recently partnered with the Modernist Versions Project (MVP). The MVP, based at the University of Victoria, is an initiative to create a digital platform that will enable the ingestion, collation, and display of modernist texts that exist in multiple versions. Partnering with the Modernism Lab will enable the MVP to use some of the incredibly rich modernist resources found at Yale's Beinecke Library.
This article mentions Professor Lewis as a recipient of one of the John and Yvonne McCredie Fellowships in Instructional Technology for the 2007-2008 academic year. It describes how the Yale Modernism Lab was modeled after the collaborative work done in the biological and physical sciences.
Elyse Graham, a Yale graduate student and assistant editor for the Modernism Lab, wrote a wiki on Walter Pater's The Renaissance that was picked up by the Victorian Web, an internet source for material on Victorian literature.
A wiki on James Joyce's poetry, written by Yale graduate student and assistant editor Anthony Domestico, was featured in Flashpoint Magazine, an online arts and politics journal.
The Yale Modernism Lab has been mentioned on many other blogs and websites. Here are some examples:
If you mention the Yale Modernism Lab online, or if you find references not included above, we'd love to hear about it! Please e-mail email@example.com with any information.