Welcome to the Journal of Modern Literature news and information site.

Check here for updates about our latest issues, calls for papers, submission guidelines and tips, as well special online-only content. Our issues themselves are available at JSTOR and Project Muse. Check out the "Read for Free" page to enjoy some featured content.

More than four decades after its founding, the Journal of Modern Literature remains a leading scholarly journal in the field of modern and contemporary literature and is widely recognized as such. It emphasizes scholarly studies of literature in all languages, as well as related arts and cultural artifacts, from 1900 to the present. International in its scope, its contributors include scholars from Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceana, and South America.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Book News: The Metrocolony in Modernist Writing

Modernism in the Metrocolony: Urban Cultures of Empire in Twentieth-Century Literature


Cambridge UP, 2020

Hardback ISBN: 9781108835626


While literary modernism is often associated with Euro-American metropolises such as London, Paris or New York, this book considers the place of the colonial city in modernist fiction. From the streets of Dublin to the shop-houses of Singapore, and from the botanical gardens of Bombay to the suburbs of Suva, the monumental landscapes of British colonial cities aimed to reinforce empire's universalizing claims, yet these spaces also contradicted and resisted the impositions of an idealized English culture. Inspired by the uneven landscapes of the urban British empire, a group of twentieth-century writers transformed the visual incongruities and anachronisms on display in the city streets into sources of critique and formal innovation. Showing how these writers responded to empire's metrocolonial complexities and built legacies, Modernism in the Metrocolony traces an alternative, peripheral history of the modernist city.

BOOK NEWS is an online-only feature announcing new publications in modernist and contemporary literary studies. These announcements do NOT constitute an endorsement by the Journal of Modern Literature.

  • Provides examples of interdisciplinary approaches to modernist literature, postcolonial studies and urban history
  • Produces an innovative theoretical overview outlining the significance of peripheral urbanism to modernism, drawing primarily on theorists from the global South
  • Intervenes in debates over the cultural, political and ecological legacies of colonial urbanism

Caitlin Vandertop is assistant professor at the University of Warwick. A former lecturer at the University of the South Pacific and research assistant at the University of Hong Kong, her work on modernism and colonial urban culture has been published in journals including Modern Fiction Studies, Textual Practice, Novel, Journal of Postcolonial Writing and Interventions.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Submission Tips: The Role of a "Cover Letter"

Our "author anonymous" policy on submissions is very often misunderstood. It merely means that the essay you attach to your email should not identify you by name. Your name should not appear in the file name, as a byline, or in headers or footers; any references to your previous publications in the essay should be made in the third person or redacted.

It does NOT mean to send us a cryptic email with the subject line "submission" that has a file attached, but no email body text whatsoever. Such messages are extremely likely to end up in our "spam" folder and because of the volume of spam email a published email address like ours receives, disappear unseen by us within a month. 

One of the best ways to ensure your submission isn't filtered as spam is to write an appropriate covering email. 

Here are some elements to include: 

A salutation 

Emails addressed specifically are less likely to be spam filtered. "Dear Journal of Modern Literature Editors" is better than "Dear Editors." "Dear Ms. Garver" is better than "Dear Managing Editor" or "Dear Editorial Office." 

Vague salutations like "to whom it may concern" may become spam filtered. "Dear Sir" indicates an assumption that the editors are all male, and is therefore offensively sexist and should be avoided. 

A body paragraph

Your email body paragraph should indicate 
  • The title of your submission 
  • A statement that you are submitting it to be considered for publication in the Journal of Modern Literature. 
  • The word count for the ENTIRE submission package including ALL elements (When using the Review > Word Count menu in MS Word, be sure to click the box "include textboxes, footnotes and endnotes.")
  • A statement attesting to the fact that the submission is original, that you are the author, that it has not been previously published, and that it is not under review at any other journal at this time.
  • An observation of why you think the submission is a fit for us. You might find it helpful to read some back issues on JSTOR or Project Muse, look at tables of contents published on this blog or read some of the "Read for FREE" pieces we link.


It is essential for our record keeping that we know your name, so please be sure to include it at the close of your letter. Your name is not shared with the editors until after acceptance. They will never be informed of the identity of authors whose works are rejected or returned for revision.

If your culture's naming convention is to use the family name first and the familiar name second, it is helpful if you capitalize the family name, indicating this is how you should be addressed. 

This is also where to let us know your preferred prefix (Dr., Prof., Mr., Ms., Mx.) as well as preferred pronouns, so that we know how to address future correspondence to you. 

Finally, include your academic affiliations, both current and previous, so that we can find objective peer reviewers who are not your colleagues or previous instructors. The COPE guidelines require that double blind reviewers not have conflicts of interest.


Ms. Jane Doe
(she / her / hers)
PhD Candidate, Stanford University
BA and MA, Penn State University

(he / him / his)
Professor of Foreign Literature, Shenzhen University
PhD, Yale University

What NOT to include

We don't need a list of your publications or other accomplishments. Submissions are read double blind on their own merits. When a piece is accepted you will have an opportunity to share this information in a biographical note.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Book News: Embracing the refugee

The Refugee Aesthetic: Reimagining Southeast Asian America


Temple University Press, 2020

ISBN Paper: 978-1-4399-1531-8


The refugee is conventionally considered a powerless figure, eagerly cast aside by both migrant and host communities. In his book, The Refugee Aesthetic: Reimagining Southeast Asian America, Timothy August investigates how and why a number of Southeast Asian American artists and writers have recently embraced the figure of the refugee as a particularly transformative position. He explains how these artists, theorists, critics, and culture-makers reconstruct their place in the American imagination by identifying and critiquing the underlying structures of power that create refugees in the contemporary world.

BOOK NEWS is an online-only feature announcing new publications in modernist and contemporary literary studies. These announcements do NOT constitute an endorsement by the Journal of Modern Literature.

August looks at the outside forces that shape refugee representation and how these expressions are received. He considers the visual legacy of the Southeast Asian refugee experience by analyzing music videos, graphic novels, and refugee artwork. August also examines the power of refugee literature, showing how and why Southeast Asian American writers look to the refugee position to disentangle their complicated aesthetic legacy.

Arguing that “aesthetics” should be central to the conceptualization of critical refugee studies, August shows how representational structures can galvanize or marginalize refugees, depending on how refugee aesthetics are used and circulated.

"August presents a compelling and multifaceted analysis of Southeast Asian refugee artistic expression....The Refugee Aesthetic is critical, interdisciplinary, and brings needed humanity to the scholarship of migration.... (August) lays a detailed foundation for envisioning and re-envisioning what it means to be a refugee and exploring what that truer and more complex meaning tells America about itself."

Ethnic and Racial Studies

“In the space between dominant American rhetorics of condescension or benevolence and emergent voices of authors who turn the release of information into artful acts of negotiation, Timothy August locates what he argues as the politics of the refugee aesthetic. Written with sensitivity to bring attention to subjective nuances of pain, belonging, reflexivity, and hope in numerous Southeast Asian American narratives and artworks, this book is a compelling testament to a stigmatized population’s admirably creative uses of discursive forms.”

Rey Chow, author of Not Like a Native Speaker: On Languaging as a Postcolonial Experience

“This erudite yet admirably lucid book brings to bear on refugee writing a new and productive set of theoretical frameworks that particularly emphasizes aesthetics and the visual. It offers fresh, compelling readings of works from Thi Bui’s graphic Narrative, The Best We Could Do, to Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Pulitzer Prize–winning novel, The Sympathizer. As a result, The Refugee Aesthetic immediately proves its worth to a wide audience, from readers interested in race and U.S. literature to those seeking guidance to the contemporary literary scene.”

Timothy Yu, author of Race and the Avant-Garde: Experimental and Asian American Poetry since 1965

Timothy K. August is an Associate Professor of English at Stony Brook University.

Monday, April 12, 2021

JML 44.2 (Winter 2021) is LIVE!


JML 44.2 (Winter 2021) 
"Modern Chinese Literature in the Context of World Literature"
guest edited by Wang Ning and Peng Qinglong
is now live on JSTOR and Project Muse

Content includes:

Wang Ning
Editor’s Introduction: Modern Chinese Literature from Local to Global

Reflections on Theories and Literary Trends

Wang Ning
Transvaluing the New Culture Movement: Toward the Construction of a Cosmo-Humanism

Yang Mingming and Yang Xin
Modern Chinese Literature under the Russian-Soviet Influence

Xiaohong Zhang and Jiazhao Lin
Between Modern and Postmodern: Contemporary Chinese Poetry from Outside in

Chengzhou He
Drama as Political Commentary: Women and the Legacy of the May Fourth Movement in Cao Yu’s Plays

Tong King Lee
Hong Kong Literature: Colonialism, Cosmopolitanism, Consumption 

Interpretations of Writers and Their Works

Ming Dong Gu
Lu Xun and Modern Chinese Literature in the Context of World Literature

Zou Li 
Toward a New Narrative About China’s Anti-Japanese War: Reading Bodily Anxiety in Ba Jin’s Cold Nights

Weihua He
Fortress Besieged: Cynicism and Qian Zhongshu’s Narrative of the Modern Chinese “Self”

Peng Qinglong 
The National and Cosmopolitan Significance of Jia Pingwa’s Fiction

Lu Shao
The Rationale of Realism in Yu Hua’s To Live (1993) 


Theo D’haen 
Modern Chinese Literature and World Literature from a European Perspective


Feng Dong 
The Unbearable Affects of Being

James Belflower
Emerging Improvisations: A Review of Writing in Real Time | Emergent Poetics from Whitman to the Digital

Catherine Flynn
Modernism at the Bar: Robert Spoo’s Modernism and the Law

Tanfer Emin Tunc 
Rethinking Modernism, Sex and Gender

Patrick Anson
The Work of Art and the Art of Work

Monday, April 5, 2021

Book News: Novels navigating new media

 Out of Print: Mediating Information in the Novel and the Book


Paperback: 9781625345608

Hardcover: 9781625345592

University of Massachusetts Press, December 2020


Through technological experiments, readers have seen the concept of the book change over the years, and the novel reflects these experiments, acting as a kind of archive for information. Out of Print reveals that the novel continues to shape popular understandings of information culture, even as it adapts to engage with new media and new practices of mediating information in the digital age.

BOOK NEWS is an online-only feature announcing new publications in modernist and contemporary literary studies. These announcements do NOT constitute an endorsement by the Journal of Modern Literature.

This innovative study chronicles how the print book has fared as both novelists and the burgeoning profession of information science have grappled with unprecedented quantities of data across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. As the novel’s archival project took a critical turn from realism to an investigation of the structures, possibilities, and ideologies of information media, novelists have considered ideas about how data can best be collected and stored. Julia Panko pairs case studies from information history with close readings of modernist works such as James Joyce’s Ulysses and Virginia Woolf’s Orlando and contemporary novels from Jonathan Safran Foer, Stephen King, and Mark Z. Danielewski that emphasize their own informational qualities and experiment with the aesthetic potential of the print book.

"This is a complex and fascinating book that has illuminating things to say about the novel as a genre; about the future of the book, the future of the novel, and the future of literary reading; about the form of information and the category of form itself; and about the information ecology of the digital world. It is lucidly and elegantly written, and its scholarship is impressively detailed and rigorous."—John Frow, author of Character and Person


"Out of Print explores the continued importance and power of the book in a digital age of increased big data. It draws from many important works of scholarship across the interdisciplinary fields of new media, book history, and literary studies. This weaving together of scholarship and literary texts, from modernism and contemporary literature, is a valuable contribution."—Jessica Pressman, author of Bookishness: Loving Books in a Digital Age

JULIA PANKO is associate professor of English at Weber State University.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Book News: A distinctly modern vulnerability

The Blossom Which We Are: The Novel and the Transience of Cultural Worlds


SUNY Press, November 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4384-8067-1


BOOK NEWS is an online-only feature announcing new publications in modernist and contemporary literary studies. These announcements do NOT constitute an endorsement by the Journal of Modern Literature.

The Blossom Which We Are traces the emergence of a distinctly modern form of human vulnerability—our intimate dependence on the fragile and time-bound cultural frameworks that we inhabit—as it manifests in the realm of the novel. Nir Evron juxtaposes seminal works from diverse national literatures to demonstrate that the trope of cultural extinction offers key insights into the emotional and ideological work performed by the realist novel. With an analysis that ranges from the works of Maria Edgeworth and Walter Scott, Edith Wharton’s Age of Innocence and Joseph Roth’s Radetzky March and Yaakov Shabtai’s Past Continuous, and finally to the current state of the humanities, this book seeks to recover literary criticism’s humanistic mission, bringing the best that has been thought and said to bear on urgent contemporary concerns.

“This book is gorgeously written. What might appear on its face as the yoking together of three culturally remote and only tangentially related texts turns out to function as a genealogy of and meditation upon the emergence of the experience of the culturally tangential.” — Irene Tucker, author of The Moment of Racial Sight: A History

Nir Evron is assistant professor of English and American Studies at Tel Aviv University, Israel.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Book News: Environmental writing in the 1930s and 40s

The Green Depression: American Ecoliterature in the 1930s and 1940s


UP of Mississippi, 2020

Hardcover : 9781496830401

Paperback : 9781496830418


Dust storms. Flooding. The fear of nuclear fallout. While literary critics associate authors of the 1930s and ’40s with leftist political and economic thought, they often ignore concern in the period’s literary and cultural works with major environmental crises. To fill this gap in scholarship, author Matthew M. Lambert argues that depression-era authors contributed to the development of modern environmentalist thought in a variety of ways. Writers of the time provided a better understanding of the devastating effects that humans can have on the environment. They also depicted the ecological and cultural value of nonhuman nature, including animal “predators” and “pests. ” Finally, they laid the groundwork for “environmental justice” by focusing on the social effects of environmental exploitation.

BOOK NEWS is an online-only feature announcing new publications in modernist and contemporary literary studies. These announcements do NOT constitute an endorsement by the Journal of Modern Literature.

To show the reach of environmentalist thought during the period, the first three chapters of The Green Depression: American Ecoliterature in the 1930s and 1940s focus on different geographical landscapes, including the wild, rural, and urban. The fourth and final chapter shifts to debates over the social and environmental effects of technology during the period. In identifying modern environmental ideas and concerns in American literary and cultural works of the 1930s and ’40s, The Green Depression highlights the importance of depression-era literature in understanding the development of environmentalist thought over the twentieth century. This book also builds upon a growing body of scholarship in ecocriticism that describes the unique contributions African American and other nonwhite authors have made to the environmental justice movement and to our understanding of the natural world.

"Many of the important authors considered in this study—Nelson Algren, Tillie Olsen, James T. Farrell, and Richard Wright, to name a few—have received insufficient attention from ecocritics, and yet, as Matthew M. Lambert shows in The Green Depression, their work and other writing during the Depression and the World War II eras is profoundly relevant to the roots of contemporary environmentalism that emerged during the latter half of the twentieth century. "

- Scott Slovic, coeditor of Ecocritical Aesthetics: Language, Beauty, and the Environment

Matthew M. Lambert is assistant professor of English at Northwestern Oklahoma State University, where he teaches courses in American literature. His work has appeared in the Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association and Journal of Popular Film and Television.