Under the lens

9 January 2018

New book takes a fresh look at modernist writing and photography

A new book out this month from English Literature’s Dr Alix Beeston puts the relationship between photography and modernist literature under the lens.

Published by Oxford University Press (New York), In and Out of Sight: Modernist Writing and the Photographic Unseen examines images, still and moving, and their changing relationship to literature in the first half of the twentieth century.

Revealing the inspiration for the book, Dr Beeston explains:

“In a post-digital media landscape tracked endlessly by streams and feeds of images, it’s clearer than ever that photography is an art poised between arresting singularity and ambiguous plurality. My book draws on new work in visual culture studies that emphasizes just this: how still photographs interact with, and are connected to, cinematic images—both of which have aspects of stillness and movement.

“The literary experiments that define early twentieth century writing have long been thought about in relation to the introduction of new visual technologies, especially the cinema, during this period. In and Out of Sight takes another look at these lines of influence and exchange in the light of new understandings of film as it sits with photography.”

Recently moving to Wales from the University of Sydney in Australia, Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Literature Dr Alix Beeston is particularly interested in twentieth and twenty-first century literature and visual culture, as well as in gender studies and critical race theory. She launched her first book in New York City at the Modern Languages Association conference this month ahead of delivering a public lecture and masterclass at the University of Michigan.