Adolphe Appia

by Pericles Lewis The Swiss theorist Adolphe Appia (1862-1928), like the English actor and set designer Gordon Craig, created methods for implementing Richard Wagner’s vision of the “total work of art” in the theater. Appia, in The Staging of Wagnerian Music Drama (1895) and Music and the Art of Theatre (1899), proposed to banish painted… Continue Reading Adolphe Appia


by Elyse Graham Clive Bell’s theories of art shaped themselves under two major influences. One was the ethical philosopher G.E. Moore‘s defense of his field: for a set of things to shelter under one class, they must have a common property—in the case of ethics, goodness—which must really exist. 1 Bell, who like all art… Continue Reading Art

Reflections Upon War and Death

by Jessica Technow The declaration of World War I in 1914 marked the beginning of an era which to this day has had lasting effects on humanity. New technologies changed the face of warfare and, for the first time, trenches were the main method utilized in military strategy. On the home front, civilians became engrossed… Continue Reading Reflections Upon War and Death

The Professor’s House

by Jack Skeffington In the introduction to Not Under Forty, Willa Cather’s 1936 collection of essays, she (in)famously writes that “the world broke in two in 1922 or thereabouts,” an opinion that, if nothing else, has fairly successfully separated her from the ranks of artists and authors we have come to call modernists.[1] The judgment,… Continue Reading The Professor’s House

Roger Fry: A Biography

by Michael Shapiro In Roger Fry—the last book she saw to publication—Virginia Woolf experiments with the structure and style of biography. She exercises editorial control to burnish the occasionally imperfect life of her subject and, by implication, to smooth over public critiques of the Bloomsbury group. Fry (1866–1934) was an English artist and art scholar,… Continue Reading Roger Fry: A Biography

Night Café (Café de Nuit)

by Pericles Lewis Vincent van Gogh’s “Night Café” (“Le café de nuit,” 1888) challenges perspectivalism and divides the space of the café into planes of bright color (the red wall, the green ceiling, the brown floor). Van Gogh said of the painting, “I have tried to express the terrible passions of humanity by means of… Continue Reading Night Café (Café de Nuit)

Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction

by Pericles Lewis Wallace Stevens’ long poem, Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction” (1942) lists three criteria for that ultimate poetic creation: “It must be abstract,” “It must change,” and “It must give pleasure.” The title of this major poem suggests that Stevens shared in the modernist fascination with ultimate answers even when those answers, not… Continue Reading Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction

An Ordinary Evening in New Haven

by Pericles Lewis In “An Ordinary Evening in New Haven” (1950), Wallace Stevens writes of the possibility of a kind of poem that would avoid the vagaries of representation. describes the ideal of a language that could express reality as it is: The poem of pure reality, untouched By trope or deviation, straight to the… Continue Reading An Ordinary Evening in New Haven

Poetry (Marianne Moore)

In “Poetry” (1919), Marianne Moore engages directly in a debate with Tolstoy and William Butler Yeats, quoting Tolstoy’s dislike of “business documents and / school-books” and Yeats’s condemnation of “literalists of / the imagination,” before defending the roots of poetry in the literal, businesslike raw material of everyday life, her equivalent of Eliot’s “variety and… Continue Reading Poetry (Marianne Moore)

Paris: A Poem

by Ruth Gilligan Born in 1887 in Kent and raised in Scotland and South Africa, Hope Mirrlees attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art before going to Newnham College, Cambridge, to study Greek. One of her tutors there, prolific classicist Jane Ellen Harrison, soon became Mirlees’s close friend and later collaborator as the two lived… Continue Reading Paris: A Poem