Program of Liberal Studies
Research ProfileB.A.H University of Kings College (Dalhousie University); M.A. Queen's University; Ph.D. University of Cambridge
Joseph Rosenberg is a literary critic specializing in modernism and its aftermath. His recent work has appeared in venues such as Modernism/Modernity, Critical Quarterly, The Henry James Review, and the Oxford Handbooks of Modernism. His first book, Wastepaper Modernism: Twentieth-Century Fiction and the Ruins of Print (forthcoming with Oxford University Press) examines the recurrent images of destroyed and ravaged print that haunt the modern novel. Wastepaper Modernism shows that these images are vital to our understanding of modern fiction, disclosing an anxiety about textual matter that lurks behind the desire for radically different modes of communication.
He is currently writing a book that examines modernism’s revolutionary failures, as well as the aftermath of its failed revolutions. Entitled Undone: Modernism, Incompletion, and the Aesthetics of Failure, this study considers not just unfinished literary works (either purposefully abandoned by their authors or left incomplete at the time of their deaths), but also those that are seemingly unfinishable (projects too grand, ambitious, or difficult for their authors to complete), as well as those that would seem to damn themselves to failure by either deliberately missing elements or self-consciously imploding. Undone examines a range of writers – some canonical, such as Samuel Beckett and Virginia Woolf; some not, such as Edward Upward and William Gerhardie – as well as both published and abandoned archival works in order to chart a new genealogy of literary modernism, one that accounts for its disappointments as well as its triumphs.
Rosenberg has been the recipient of major fellowships from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. His essay “Paper Bombs” won the 2015 Space Between Society Essay Prize.
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