Introduction ('Anti-Humanist Modernisms')

Stevenson, Guy. 2020. Introduction ('Anti-Humanist Modernisms'). Textual Practice, 34(9), pp. 1405-1418. ISSN 0950-236X [Article]

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This is the 'introduction' to a special issue of the journal Textual Practice, titled 'Anti-Humanist Modernisms'. The issue's aim was to investigate a 'brutal' turn in literary and artistic production from 1900 onwards, as identified by modernist writer-painter Wyndham Lewis, and to place it in the context of a larger rebellion against Enlightenment humanist ideals. This introduction explains outlines the context and aims of contributions on writers as diverse from each other as Djuna Barnes and Michel Houellebecq. It explains the journal's purpose to consider the roots and results of anti-humanist thought in the experimental art of the twentieth century. How did repulsion at Enlightenment certitudes affect literary and artistic innovation in the early twentieth century? What political implications did this have? How was that repulsion used, paradoxically, to socially humanistic ends? Finally, in what ways has religion been repurposed by writers, artists and composers in search - like their nineteenth century Romantic counterparts - for an antidote to Reason? By asking such questions, the authors in Anti-Humanist Modernisms aim to historicise a contemporary moment in which humanist assumptions face renewed attacks from both the right and the left, and sentimental aesthetics and politics are at once ubiquitous and widely mistrusted.

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"This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Textual Practice on 17 September 2020, available at: It is deposited under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited."


Modernism, Anti-Humanism, Wyndham Lewis, Djuna Barnes, Ezra Pound, Robinson Jeffers, T.E. Hulme, Michel Houellebecq, Henry Miller

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature


6 July 2018Accepted
17 September 2020Published Online

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Date Deposited:

13 Jun 2024 18:23

Last Modified:

13 Jun 2024 18:28

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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