Program of Liberal Studies
B.A.H University of Kings College (Dalhousie University); M.A. Queen's University; Ph.D. University of Cambridge
Joseph Rosenberg is a literary critic and cultural historian specializing in modernism and its aftermath. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in venues such as Modernism/Modernity, The Henry James Review, the Oxford Handbooks of Modernism, Humanities, and others. 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.
More recently, Rosenberg’s scholarship has turned to the second half of the 20thCentury. He is currently working on a second book, provisionally entitled Undone: Late Modernism and the Aesthetics of Failure. Taking seriously E.M. Forster’s injunction that after the political and aesthetic failures of modernism, “the best chance for future society lies through apathy, uninventiveness, and inertia,” Undone argues that British literature, from the aftermath of the Second World War to the Thatcher era, is marked by a peculiar veneration of the shallow, the oblique, and the deflationary as aesthetic modes. Prizing superficial appearance over self-conscious reflection, resignation over epiphany, and middle-class manners over avant-garde postures, “late modernist” literature is guided by a spirit of failure that deems purposeful and deliberate shallowness as the most fitting literary response to the political and cultural conditions of the post-war era.
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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University of Notre Dame
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