Modernism on Sea brings together writing by some of today’s most exciting seaside critics, curators, filmmakers and scholars, and takes the reader on a journey around the coast of Britain to explore the rich artistic and cultural heritage that can be found there, from St Ives to Scarborough. The authors consider avant-garde art, architecture, film, literature and music, from the early twentieth century to the present, setting the arrival of modernism against the background of seaside tradition.
From the cheeky postcards marvelled at by George Orwell to austere modernist buildings such as the De La Warr Pavilion; from the Camden Town Group’s sojourn in Brighton to John Piper’s ‘Nautical Style’; from Paul Nash’s surrealist benches on the promenade in Swanage to the influence of bunting and deckchairs on the Festival of Britain – Modernism on Sea is a sweeping tour de force which pays tribute to the role of the seaside in shaping British modernism.
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Lara Feigel is Lecturer in Modern Literary Studies at King’s College London. She is the author of Literature, Cinema and Politics, 1930-1945: Reading Between the Frames (2010) and the editor of A Nosegay: A Literary Journey from the Fragrant to the Fetid (2006). She is currently co-editing of the journals of Stephen Spender, with John Sutherland and Natasha Spender.
Alexandra Harris is Lecturer in English at the University of Liverpool. She studied history of art at the Courtauld Institute in London and holds a doctorate from the University of Oxford. Her recent book Romantic Moderns: English Writers, Artists and the Imagination from Virginia Woolf to John Piper (2010) won the Guardian First Book Award. In 2011 she was chosen as one of the BBC Radio 3 New Generation Thinkers.
«An immensely enjoyable feat of cultural beachcombing, fresh, diverse and enlightening» (John Carey, emeritus Merton Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford and author of ‘What Good Are the Arts?’)
«Readers who love the British seaside will find this volume as bracing as Skegness on a windy day» (Brian Evans, ‘Virginia Woolf Bulletin’)
«This volume of intelligent and attractive essays is full of particular insights, and is to be applauded for its championing of the seaside as a site of cultural creativity» (Peter Borsay, ‘Times Higher Education’)
«From Virginia Woolf to Benjamin Britten to Sylvia Plath: a fascinating take on the wave of the avant-garde breaking on British shores» (J.B. Bullen, Professor Emeritus at the University of Reading)
«Readable and thought-provoking [...] a stimulating and wide-ranging collection» (Christiana Payne, ‘Oxford Art Journal’)
«Modernism on Sea is a compilation of serious scholarly essays disguised in red and white beach stripes» (London Review Bookshop)
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