Emily Bloom Awarded 2017 MSA Prize for a First Book Winner

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Modernist Studies Association awards its Prize for a First Book to Emily C. Bloom's The Wireless Past: Anglo-Irish Writers and the BBC, 1931-1968 (Oxford University Press, 2016).

Despite being distinct in terms of politics and aesthetics, W. B. Yeats, Louis MacNeice, Elizabeth Bowen and Samuel Beckett are bound together by their extensive engagement with the radio medium. In The Wireless Past, Emily Bloom examines how modern literature came to be shaped by this new medium, for which writers were encouraged to use interior monologues, first-person narration and an intimate mode of address. But Yeats, MacNeice, Bowen and Beckett also developed distinctive techniques for conceptualizing radio publics, as Bloom shows in each chapter. Yeats’s radio poetry evoked traditional spaces for oral poetry such as the Greek stage and then showed the impossibility of these spaces for modern poetics. MacNeice’s poetry and radio scripts highlighted the complexities of communication in wartime, as radio came to be used as a powerful propaganda tool but also as a way to connect people isolated by travel restrictions. The Wireless Past makes a significant contribution to the field of “radio modernism” – a field that has grown rapidly as a major research trend in modernist studies.