Campus Box 1122
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
Modernism; Modern British and Irish Literature; Decadence
Modernism and Decadence; Ulysses; Virginia Woolf, Novelist and Feminist; The Art of Poetry; Freshman Literature Seminar: Literature and Fantasy
Vincent Sherry teaches and writes about literary modernism in Britain and Ireland. His current projects include Dying Generation: Modernism, Decadence, and the Inspiration of Last Days. This book traces the relation between “high” modernism and the “decadence” of the writers and painters of the later Victorian Age, mapping out the main lines of continuity and change over the long turn of the century. He tracks these writers’ varied but shared feelings about living in what they perceive to be a late day of history: their presentiments about the waning energies of nation and empire and their concerns about new scientific ideas of entropy, especially as these notions relate to the decay of language. He is also currently writing the Blackwell biography of Ezra Pound.
In these works, and throughout his career, Professor Sherry has focused on bringing an historically informed understanding to the modernist project. In The Great War and the Language of Modernism (Oxford, 2003; rpt 2004, 2006), he recovers the substance of the debates within the British Liberal party on the ethics and rationale of the war, locating a crisis that drives deep down into the intellectual traditions of liberal modernity and establishing in this dissonance the provocative circumstance for some of the most important literary inventions in British modernism. He broadens this perspective into an overview of the pan-European and trans-Atlantic writing of the war in a recently edited volume, the Cambridge Companion to the Literature of the First World War (2005). Earlier research has addressed the fraught issue of modernist politics: in Ezra Pound, Wyndham Lewis, and Radical Modernism (Oxford, 1993), he develops a framework of analysis that reveals the literary and artistic bases of these modernists’ attraction to—and tragic misunderstanding of—European fascisms.
Other work includes James Joyce: Ulysses (Cambridge, 1995, rpt. 1997, 2000; 2d ed. 2004), which presents a reading of Joyce’s monumental novel in the contexts of Irish modernism, Irish history, and the history of the novel, and The Uncommon Tongue: The Poetry and Criticism of Geoffrey Hill (Michigan, 1987), which examines this contemporary British poet’s relation to poetic modernism as his most important precedent and legacy.