Laura Wainwright introduces her new book, New Territories in Modernism: Anglophone Welsh Writing, 1930-1949.
In the early decades of the twentieth century, Modernist writers and artists sought to represent and respond to the modern world in myriad experimental and ground-breaking ways. In recent years, Modernist studies have opened up as critics have increasingly looked beyond the familiar, canonical Modernist writers to lesser-known and marginal Modernisms, originating from regions other than the metropolitan centres of Europe and America. Despite these developments in Modernism studies, however, Welsh literary Modernism has been critically neglected, both within and outside Wales. Indeed, with the exception of Saunders Lewis in the Welsh language, along with Dylan Thomas, more recently, Caradoc Evans, and David Jones (whose work is most often studied in the context of English or ‘British’ Modernism) in English, Wales’s writers have, historically, been debarred from discussions of literary Modernism. In the case of Welsh writing in English, a minority of scholars have more recently begun to address the prospect of a Welsh Modernism as part of more discursive studies of the literature of Wales; and yet, still, no sustained nor extensive study of Anglophone Modernism in Wales has been undertaken. New Territories in Modernism changes this, affording the topic of Welsh Modernism the critical scrutiny that it deserves. The first book solely devoted to the study of Welsh literary Modernism, I demonstrate how the unprecedented linguistic, social and cultural shifts that were the making of modern Wales, formed the crucible for the emergence of a bold and distinct Welsh Modernism. I hope that the book will put Welsh Modernism on the literary and critical map and inspire future research in this field.
Dr Laura Wainwright is an independent academic and writer. She has previously published critical essays on Welsh writing in English and on Modernism.