In “A Critical Romance: Modernism Rewriting Literary History,” I examine the formative role of the romance in literary modernism’s work to think critically about itself and its own history. Past readings of the relationship between the two forms have emphasized their discreteness; although they may be involved with each other, they are defined by competing desires. If critical engagement with modernism is underwritten by an assumption of innovation, the romance’s orientation is seen in opposite terms. Its interest in returns and retrievals of past and ideal states has, in other words, been misread to signify the form’s primitive, and always precedent, status. Discussions of modernism and the romance have invested in this logic, reading the romance as active only in relationship to early stages of modernism.<br/>
This dissertation is interested in thinking about the romance as definitionally active in modernism, as a group of tropes—wandering, chance, the fantastic, adventure—that create a vocabulary for modernism’s critical self-reflection. I argue that the romance’s interest in a return, its desire to retrieve a past state, gives modernism a way of thinking about its own past and for conceptualizing of history. Modernism develops the romance into a methodological drive geared toward re-conceptualizing of and re-narrating literary history. Rather than thinking about the romance as a single, stable form, I am interested in a grammatical turn, in thinking about how the romance functions as a verb in the modernist text. The forms of the medieval romance, gothic novel, and the adventure tales of the late-nineteenth century are at work in the modernist text, key to its development of a modernist historiography. <br/>
Sikorski, Hannah Joran,
"'A Critical Romance: Literary Modernism Rewriting Literary History'"
English Theses and Dissertations.
Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library.