Tag Archives: review

Catherine Keyser’s Playing Smart: Style, Irony, and the Individual

Our first contribution to the MagMods Bookclub comes from Daniel Worden, Assistant Professor of English at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs.  He works on twentieth-century American literature and culture and has published on Willa Cather, Charles Chesnutt, dime novels, HBO’s Deadwood, and Chris Ware.

Catherine Keyser’s Playing Smart: New York Women Writers and Modern Magazine Culture demonstrates how periodical studies can revise and offer new models of modernism. The links that Keyser establishes between Edna St. Vincent Millay, Anita Loos, Dorothy Parker, Jessie Fauset, Dawn Powell, and Mary McCarthy feel at one and the same time entirely intuitive yet counter to the traditional distinctions one might make between poetry and prose, mass culture and experimental form, pre-1945 and post-1945 literature, style and substance. Keyser’s book is an important analysis of modernist style, and one that foregrounds how style functions as a way of projecting celebrity persona yet also maintaining an ironic distance from the norms that style is so often made to serve. Continue reading