[Msa-discuss] Literary Obscenities Now in Hardcover

EM Bachman embachman at gmail.com
Mon Mar 26 19:12:17 EDT 2018

I would like to let the members of the Modernist Studies Association know
that *Literary Obscenities: U.S. Case Law and Naturalism after Modernism*
is available in hardcover. The book is part of the Refiguring Modernism
series at Penn State UP, and information regarding it is below.

Erik M. Bachman

>From the publisher:

“A welcome and profound reassessment not only of American censorship
issues, *Literary Obscenities: U.S. Case Law and Naturalism after
Modernism* joins the current rethinking of modernist studies, particularly
in terms of the paperback revolution and its long-term cultural impact.
This welcome addition to the ongoing discourse in legal studies, book
history, cultural studies, and the philosophy of modernism is cause for
celebration. Bachman’s well-researched, acutely insightful, accessibly
written study will take its place alongside Marjorie Heins’s *Not in Front
of the Children* as a staple in university courses.” —S. E. Gontarski,
author of *Creative Involution: Bergson, Beckett, Deleuze*

This comparative historical study explores the broad sociocultural factors
at play in the relationships among U.S. obscenity laws and literary
modernism and naturalism in the early twentieth century. Putting obscenity
case law’s crisis of legitimation and modernism’s crisis of representation
into dialogue, Erik M. Bachman shows how obscenity trials and other
attempts to suppress allegedly vulgar writing in the United States affected
a wide-ranging debate about the power of the printed word to incite emotion
and shape behavior.

Far from seeking simply to transgress cultural norms or sexual boundaries,
Bachman argues, proscribed authors such as Wyndham Lewis, Erskine Caldwell,
Lillian Smith, and James T. Farrell refigured the capacity of writing to
evoke the obscene so that readers might become aware of the social
processes by which they were being turned into mass consumers, voyeurs, and
racialized subjects. Through such efforts, these writers participated in
debates about the libidinal efficacy of language with a range of
contemporaries, from behavioral psychologists and advertising executives to
book cover illustrators, magazine publishers, civil rights activists, and

Focusing on case law and the social circumstances informing it, *Literary
Obscenities* provides an alternative conceptual framework for understanding
obscenity’s subjugation of human bodies, desires, and identities to
abstract social forces. It will appeal especially to scholars of American
literature, American studies, and U.S. legal history.

You can find **Li*terary Obscenities* on the Penn State University Press
website at this URL: http://www.psupress.org/books/

Take 30% off with code EMB18 when you order through psupress.org

Be sure to ask for it at your local library and bookstore!

Erik M. Bachman
Postgraduate Researcher and Lecturer, Literature Department and Porter
College, University of California at Santa Cruz
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