Transnational Modernism in Visual Arts & Literature

Organiser: Scientific Committee; Chair: Mao Chen (Skidmore College)

The panel proposes a journey across the borders of Modernism. It is a geographical journey across transnational borders, but also a journey through art and literature. Aathira Peedikaparambil Somasundaran (Cardiff) introduces us to Lebanese art and artistic modernism in the Levant in the 20th century. She does it with a paper that looks into press material from the 1950s with the aim of investigating how modernist art was staged in Lebanon in those years. Nicola Baird (London) discusses the work of British artist David Bomber (1890-1957) and the controversial definition and labelling of this artist, a child of the ghetto and symbol of East End cultural heritage for the Ben Uri Gallery and a forgotten and marginalised genius for Sarah Rose. Starting with Bomber’s work, Baird seeks to question the notion of art history as a trace of continuous progress and the affirmation of modernity as an unquestionably progressive goal. Mao Chen (Skidmore College) presents us with the stories of Lu Xun, an author who confronted the most iconoclastic modernists of his period. Lu Xun is seen here not only as a product of 4th May culture, but also of a transnational community to which, perhaps unwittingly, he belonged. The author of the paper goes so far as to liken the Chinese Lu Xun to Franz Kafka. The panel ends with an analysis of two different traditional Chinese translations of E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India published in Taiwan. In this regard, Tsung-Han Tsai (Kaohsiung) explores the implications of their different translation strategies for our understanding of Taiwan’s ongoing, and often conflicting, negotiations of colonial history and modernist aesthetics.


Aathira Peedikaparambil Somasundaran (Cardiff University) – Migration as the Trigger for Change in the Levant Art Tradition

Nicola Baird (London South Bank University) – Modernism, Identity and Intersectionality (Race, Class, Nationality): The Case of David Bomberg, the Ben Uri Gallery and the Sarah Rose Collections

Mao Chen (Skidmore College) – Lu Xun and Transnational Modernism: Breaking with the Past

Tsung-Han Tsai (University of Tsukuba, Japan)A Passage to India in Taiwan: Translation, Politics, Modernisms