Amalia Cotoi (Babeș-Bolyai University)


Amalia Cotoi is Teaching Assistant at Babeș-Bolyai University of Cluj Napoca. Her research interests include Modernism, Memory, Cosmpolitanism. She has recently published an essay on the 21st-century Modernisms and the problem of periodization (2022).

What About Legacy? Contemporary Modernism and the Logic of Reperiodization

The solution to rethinking periodization and modernism does not lie in a search for the future in the past, as proposed by metamodernism (van den Akker, Gibbons, Vermeulen: 2017), one of the many competing concepts in the marketplace of ideas. What interests us today is how we talk about 21st century modernism in the long run. What should we do so that the modernism we defend so fiercely does not once again fall prey to a (postmodernist) avant-garde that would lock it within another aestheticism for a few decades. We assume that an answer is given by the configuration of a contemporary understood not as total blindness (Agamben: 2009), in the sense of a total immersion in the present, but as a de-periodizing and non-historical synthesis of temporalities (Osborne: 2018): a contemporary that can find a good use to modernism. We are revisiting modernism today not for the poetics of the 19th and 20th century, but to search for a redefinition of categories such as “aesthetic” and “history” that can help us better explain our world, our modernity, and the literature within. We reconsider modernism today, precisely because postmodernism, which thought to have grown past it, has fallen prey to its own Hegelian logic of transcendence, believing that it could emerge from history and even from the real (Fukuyama, Baudrillard). From the standpoint of a post-critical ethos, for which the aesthetic dimension of literature does not oppose sociohistory, but rather articulates within it, Elena Ferrante, Annie Ernaux, Sașa Zare meet today with authors such as Virginia Woolf, Hortensia Papadat-Bengescu, Marcel Proust, around the focal point of memory:  individual and collective memory inscribe and rewrite experiences, heal traumas and raise monuments. Modernist literature is perhaps the inception place of an alternately lived time, here and then, and the inscription of its consciousness as literature: a literature understood as a “(pragmatic) response” to a “problematic space” of modernity (Stavrianakis and Rabinow: 2019).