The transglossic : contemporary fiction and the limitations of the modern

Shaw, Kristian and Upstone, Sara (2021) The transglossic : contemporary fiction and the limitations of the modern. English Studies, 102(5), pp. 573-600. ISSN (print) 0013-838X


In the past twenty years, the continued relevance of the term postmodernism for literary studies has increasingly been called into question. In the wake of this re-evaluation of literary terminology, many new terms have been coined, frequently associated still with a “-modern” suffix. This paper suggests that while the new modernisms hold relevance for specific concerns of contemporary literature, they have yet to provide an alternative framing for dominant trends. This is the case even when, as for metamodernism, a term has begun to move into general usage. The new modernisms, we suggest, are caught in a reductive association to the past which minimises their applicability to the dynamic newness of contemporary writing, particularly as it responds to ethico-political concerns. As an alternative to these terminologies we suggest “transglossic”, capturing the movement across forms and identities that uniquely defines contemporary literature.

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