Modernism, Criticism and Education

Organiser: Scientific Committee; Chair: Yoad Eliaz (Max Stern Yezreel Valley College)

This panel reflects on the relation between modernism and teaching, whether the representation of education in modernist texts or the way we teach modernism today.

In “Productive Discomfort: Teaching Literary Modernism from Troublesome to Transformative”, Joseph Anderton discusses the role of modernist literature in the classroom. On the one hand, modernism with its deliberately disruptive and difficult forms can lead to profound moments of insight; on the other hand, the so-called difficulty of modernism can hinder the learning process. Drawing on his teaching practice, Anderton shows how to navigate between ‘transformative’ and ‘troublesome’ discomfort.

Joseph Williams studies Malcolm Bradbury’s critical and creative career in “Malcolm Bradbury’s Modernism: the Writer, the Critic, and the University”. Reflecting on Bradbury’s long career, Williams shows the way Bradbury integrated modernism in literary studies and creative writing programmes in the UK. While for Bradbury, the university was an institution of patronage for authors “working beyond the fetters of the marketplace”, Williams questions to what extent this holds true today.

Isabelle Parkinson focuses on Dorothy Richardson. In her paper “Dissenting and Decentering: Dorothy Richardson’s Pedagogy”, she reads Richardson’s fiction in relation to Quakerism, anarchism, and strands of socialism. For Parkinson, Richardson’s progressive views of learning focus on the student rather than the teacher. By showing how Richardson resisted patriarchal notions of pedagogy, she questions what Richardson’s views on learning can teach us today.

Together, the papers explore several notions of pedagogy, linking historical and contemporary practices. They reflect on the uses of modernism in and beyond the classroom.


Joseph Anderton (Birmingham City University) – Productive Discomfort: Teaching Literary Modernism from Troublesome to Transformative

Joseph Williams (University of East Anglia) – Malcolm Bradbury’s Modernism: The Writer, The Critic, and The University

Isabelle Parkinson (Royal Holloway, University of London) – Dissenting and Decentering: Dorothy Richardson’s Pedagogy