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Title: John Rodker (1894-1955) and modernist material culture : theatre, translation, publishing
Author: Heinz, Evelyn
ISNI:       0000 0004 7226 9236
Awarding Body: Birkbeck, University of London
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis examines the career of the modernist writer John Rodker (1894-1955) in the context of the institutional and commercial networks of modernism during the period 1912-1932. It focuses specifically on three aspects of Rodker’s creative practice which have received little attention to date: his work in the areas of theatre, translation and publishing. Though historically relegated to a position of cultural minority, Rodker was a key agent in the networks of modernist literary production whose multifaceted career, I argue, provides significant insights into the relationship between modernism’s modes of material production and its historical claim to cultural authority. Chapter one examines Rodker’s early engagement with dramatic art and explores how the types of theatre he encountered as a young poet growing up in Whitechapel influenced the dramaturgy of his modernist theatre manifesto, published in The Egoist in 1914. In chapter two Rodker’s theoretical propositions for an artistically and economically reformed modernist stage are tested against his practical involvement in mounting stage performances as a member of the ‘Choric School’. Chapters three and four shift the focus onto Rodker’s translation work, examining his first major translation project The Lay of Maldoror and analysing his position as a translator and translated author in the literary marketplace of the 1920s. In the final two chapters I investigate Rodker’s engagement with the commercial aspects of literary production in his role as a publisher. Chapter five provides a first historical account of Rodker’s second publishing business, the Casanova Society, while chapter six presents an analysis of the ‘John Rodker’ imprint which shows Rodker participating in the commercial push that brought modernism closer to the masses in the late 1920s and early 30s whilst simultaneously failing to effectively market his own work. The conclusion outlines the loss of Rodker’s literary reputation after 1932 and draws together the main strands of my argument about the relationship between modernist material culture and literary success.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available