New Book: Affective Materialities

We are excited to announce that Kara Watts, Robin Hackett, and myself (Molly Volanth Hall) have a new book out with University Press of Florida, titled Affective Materialities: Reorienting the Body in Modernist Literature.

Affective Materialities reexamines modernist theorizations of the body and opens up the artistic, political, and ethical possibilities at the intersection of affect theory and ecocriticism, two recent directions in literary studies not typically brought into conversation.

Modernist creativity, the volume proposes, may return to us notions of the feeling, material body that contemporary scholarship has lost touch with, bodies that suggest alternative relations to others and to the world. Contributors argue that modernist writers frequently bridge the dichotomy between body and world by portraying bodies that merge with or are re-created by their surroundings into an amalgam of self and place. Chapters focus on this treatment of the body through works by canonical modernists including William Carlos Williams, Virginia Woolf, and E. M. Forster alongside lesser-studied writers Janet Frame, Herbert Read, and Nella Larsen.

Showing the ways the body in literature can be a lens for understanding the fluidities of race, gender, and sexuality, as well as species and subjectivity, this volume maps the connections among modernist aesthetics, histories of the twentieth-century body, and the concerns of modernism that can also speak to urgent concerns of today.

“A dynamic reexamination of what modernist representations of the self can teach us about the way culture has defined which bodies ‘matter’ and how modern artists resist those boundaries by depicting the body as a creative site of trans-corporeality.”—Kelly Sultzbach, author of Ecocriticism in the Modernist Imagination: Forster, Woolf, and Auden

 “Putting the insights of ecology and affect studies into conversation and covering a wide range of subjects from Prufrock to puppies, Affective Materialities provides an impressive toolkit for anyone interested in the myriad ways that the modernist body matters.”—Brian Glavey, author of The Wallflower Avant-Garde: Modernism, Sexuality, and Queer Ekphrasis


1. Into the Ether: An Invitation to Bodily Reorientations, Molly Volanth Hall and Kara Watts

2. Flesh over Granite: Walt Whitman’s Embodied Presence in William Carlos Williams’s “History,” Karen Guendel

3. E. M. Forster among the Ruins, Stuart Christie

4. “‘I’m not sick,’ I said. ‘I’m wounded’”: Disrupting Wounded Masculinity through the Lyrical Spaces of War, Cheryl Hindrichs

5. Frustrated Energies in Modernism’s Female Arrangements, Judith Paltin

6. “Things were in people, people were in things”: Language, Ecology, and the Body in H.D., Kim Sigouin

7. Cold Crystal: The Ecology of Affect in Herbert Read’s The Green Child, William Kupinse

8. “I wanna be your puppy”: Djuna Barnes’s Nightwood and the Queer Cute Body, Anna Christine

9. The Brain and the Living World in Janet Frame’s Faces in the Water, Mary Elene Wood

10. “Becoming Animal, Becoming Other”: Modernism, Millennial Jurisprudence, and the Limits of Materialist Subjectivity, Kathryn Van Wert

11. Black Girls and Lady Police: Blank Affect and the Ecology of the Gym, Robin Hackett