Interventions into Modernist Cultures

Poetry from Beyond the Empty Screen

Interventions into Modernist Cultures

Perverse Modernities: A Series Edited by Jack Halberstam and Lisa Lowe

More about this series

Book Pages: 200 Illustrations: Published: April 2007

Asian American Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Theory, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

Interventions into Modernist Cultures is a comparative analysis of the cultural politics of modernist writing in the United States and Taiwan. Amie Elizabeth Parry argues that the two sites of modernism are linked by their representation or suppression of histories of U.S. imperialist expansion, Cold War neocolonial military presence, and economic influence in Asia. Focusing on poetry, a genre often overlooked in postcolonial theory, she contends that the radically fragmented form of modernist poetic texts is particularly well suited to representing U.S. imperialism and neocolonial modernities.

Reading various works by U.S. expatriates Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein, Parry compares the cultural politics of U.S. canonical modernism with alternative representations of temporality, hybridity, erasure, and sexuality in the work of the Taiwanese writers Yü Kwang-chung and Hsia Yü and the Asian American immigrant author Theresa Hak Kyung Cha. Juxtaposing poems by Pound and Yü Kwang-chung, Parry shows how Yü’s fragmented, ambivalent modernist form reveals the effects of neocolonialism while Pound denies and obscures U.S. imperialism in Asia, asserting a form of nondevelopmental universalism through both form and theme. Stein appropriates discourses of American modernity and identity to represent nonnormative desire and sexuality, and Parry contrasts this tendency with representations of sexuality in the contemporary experimental poetry of Hsia Yü. Finally, Parry highlights the different uses of modernist forms by Pound in his Cantos—which incorporate a multiplicity of decontextualized and ahistorical voices—and by Cha in her 1982 novel Dictee, a historicized, multilingual work. Parry’s sophisticated readings provide a useful critical framework for apprehending how “minor modernisms” illuminate the histories erased by certain canonical modernist texts.


“Amie Elizabeth Parry adopts a highly intriguing approach to internationalism and reception of modernist poetic texts, and she adeptly uses poetry in her postcolonial reading of relations between Taiwan and the USA. . . . ” — Year's Work in English Studies

“Parry . . . subjects the global dimensions of a modernist project as developed by Pound and others to uncommonly subtle analysis, uncovering layers of textual resonances (and dissonances) across cultures and time frames that would be literally unthinkable were it not for her innovative approach. . . . [She] add[s] a great deal to our current discussion, and are welcome for it.” — Paul Manfredi, Modern Chinese Literature and Culture

“Bringing together American and Taiwanese literature in ingenious and innovative ways, Amie Elizabeth Parry insistently juxtaposes critical theories of modernity with postcolonial studies to argue that conceptions of the modern cannot be thought outside of the ‘ongoing transformations in and legacies of imperialism and colonialism.’” — David Eng, author of Racial Castration: Managing Masculinity in Asian America

“In this original and outstanding book, Amie Elizabeth Parry opens up new ways of reading and approaching U.S. and Asian modern literary cultures. Through her compelling and theoretically deft close readings of ‘minor’ modernists and experimental writers, modernist formations between the United States and East Asia are made to interact, comment on, and challenge the seemingly abstract or formalized claims of poetic innovation and geopolitical situation.” — Rob Wilson, coeditor of Global/Local: Cultural Production and the Transnational Imaginary


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Amie Elizabeth Parry is Associate Professor of English at the National Central University in Taiwan.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

Introduction / Canonical Modernisms, Minor Modernisms, and the Cultural Politics of Fragmentation 1

1 / The Historicity of the Fragment: Toward a Critical Comparativism 21

2 / “Completely Painted Over but Painted Full of Empty Spaces”: Stein’s American Allegories and the End of Progress 44

3 / “Learning a Lesson in the Superficial Song Lyrics”: Hsia Yü’s “Underground” Poetry 80

4 / “For the Other Overlapping Time”: Pound’s Ideogramic Universalism and Cha’s Countermodernist Translation 113

Conclusion / The Cultural Uses of an Interventionary Poetics 148

Notes 153

Works Cited 171

Index 181
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Winner, 2007 Association of Asian American Studies Best Book in Literary Studies

Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3818-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3803-1
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