A shortened version of a proposal that was invited, and is currently under review, by Edinburgh University Press appears below.
The Edinburgh Companion to D.H. Lawrence and the Arts
Dr. Catherine Brown, New College of the Humanities, UK
Dr. Susan Reid, University of Northampton, UK
This authoritative volume brings together 29 newly commissioned, research-led essays that reassess the major topics in D.H. Lawrence’s relationships with the arts and aesthetics, acknowledging him as an author who was not only productive in a wide range of genres, but also frequently blurred or abolished the distinctions between them.
In-depth chapters examine aesthetic categories and forms which are new to Lawrence studies: Anti-Aestheticism, Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art), Decadence, Popular Culture, and Historiography. Fresh approaches to Lawrence’s engagement across the arts draw from the fields of new modernist studies, war studies, queer studies, lifewriting, and ecocriticism. Lawrence’s writings about dance, music, architecture, and sculpture are studied alongside his informed practitioner criticism of prose, poetry, painting and theatre.
This accessible and stimulating reference work allows Lawrence’s complexity and profound innovativeness to emerge clearly, permitting his works to speak compellingly to the present. Chapters on Lawrence’s afterlives in the aesthetic productions of others, in biofiction, cinema and music, place the contemporary relationship to Lawrence in the context of his reception history – a history in which this volume will itself be a significant intervention.
- Includes 29 specially commissioned chapters on D.H. Lawrence and the arts from well-established and emerging international scholars.
- Applies the latest critical thinking in several key areas, including ecocriticism, queer aesthetics, new modernist studies and biofiction.
- Presents in-depth studies of neglected areas (historiography, architecture and sculpture), and brings new approaches to bear (Anti-Aestheticism and the Gesamtkunstwerk).
- Builds a picture of Lawrence’s complexity and innovation across the arts, in reinvigorating ways that speak relevantly to the present.
D.H. Lawrence, philosophy, aesthetics, arts, modernism, literary theory
Short synopsis of the aims, scope, structure and approach of the volume
The Edinburgh Companion to D.H. Lawrence and the Arts has the dual aim of introducing Lawrence relevantly to today’s students, who may be largely unaware of the turbulent history of his reception, and of re-presenting him to experienced readers and scholars who are themselves part of that history. All will be offered a fresh and innovative exploration of Lawrence’s own freshness and innovativeness.
The editors’ introduction orientates the reader by explaining the aims and structure of the volume, situating Lawrence and the arts in their historical and critical context, summarising the contents, and considering the contemporary relevance of the picture of Lawrence which emerges.
The volume is then divided into three parts concerning respectively: Lawrence’s relationship to aesthetic categories which transcend particular art forms; Lawrence’s practice of and reflections upon particular artistic forms; and Lawrence’s works and image as reflected in the art of others.
The editors have maximised the number of chapters in the two sections of the first part and minimised the number in the second, with the aim of producing more original work on Lawrence than standard morphological categories might produce. Overlap with the forthcoming volume mentioned below is thereby also minimised. This seems appropriate to Lawrence’s transcendence of genre boundaries. One of our proposed chapters (‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ [total work of art]) studies this very tendency.
Nearly all the chapters in the first and second parts concern both Lawrence’s practice of, and reflection upon, the categories concerned. This too reflects the breadth of his artistic and critical/philosophical production. Rare exceptions include, for example, sculpture, architecture and dance, of which Lawrence was not a practitioner, but on which he had much of interest to say.
The third part is concerned exclusively with how Lawrence’s works, and the man himself, are explicitly reflected in the art of others (for example in romans à clef, musical works, portraits, and film adaptations). It does not concern the influence of Lawrence’s work on the arts in any broader sense. This influence, which was considerable, is beyond the scope of this volume and series. It has been noted that The Edinburgh Companion to Virginia Woolf and the Arts contains a chapter (22) entitled ‘Virginia Woolf Icon’, which has inspired a similarly-titled chapter in the present volume, Lawrence having been iconised to at least the same degree. This third part – ‘Lawrence in Others’ Art’ – therefore builds on precedent within the series to open up the study of an author beyond that author’s lifetime, whilst keeping the study of that author’s influence tightly defined, and therefore within manageable bounds.
The chapters will be of variable lengths, as is true of other Companion volumes, and as is appropriate to the variable breadth and complexity of the topics concerned. The editors have given each contributor approached an approximate word length (in the range of 4,000 – 7,000 words), which may be revised in the light of the work as it is produced. To facilitate flexibility and collaboration, and to minimise gaps and overlaps, they propose to hold a Symposium (probably in London in early 2019) to share work in progress before draft chapters are submitted.
PART 1 AESTHETICS
SECTION 1 AESTHETIC ATTITUDES
3 Romanticism and Decadence
4 Biblical Aesthetics
5 National and Racial Aesthetics
6 Political Aesthetics
7 Popular Culture
8 Queer Aesthetics
SECTION 2 AESTHETIC MEDIATIONS
9 The First World War
11 Representing Nature
12 The Idea of Technology
14 Revising and Rewriting
PART 2 AESTHETIC FORMS
SECTION 1 VISUAL ARTS
15 Practitioner Criticism: Painting
19 Book Design
SECTION 2 VERBAL ARTS
20 Practitioner Criticism: Prose
21 Practitioner Criticism: Poetry
SECTION 3 PERFORMANCE ARTS
22 Lawrence as Performer
23 Practitioner Criticism: Theatre
25 Classical Music
PART 3 LAWRENCE IN OTHERS’ ART
26 Contemporary Cinematic Art
27 Lawrence’s Work in Music
28 Lawrence in Biofiction
29 D.H. Lawrence Icon
Market and readership
This will be the first comprehensive volume covering D.H. Lawrence’s diverse engagement across the arts. Recent international publications suggest a growing interest in modernism and the arts, and an encouraging resurgence of publications on Lawrence in general have also exhibited particular interest in Lawrence and the arts. For instance, recent journal special issues have focused on the arts – D.H. Lawrence Review, Vol. 40.1 (2015) and Journal of D. H. Lawrence Studies, Vol. 4.2 (2016) – and a special issue of Journal of the Short Story in English dedicated to Lawrence’s art of the short story, as well as many essays on Lawrence and various art forms in a range of publications.
This book will reach scholarly and general markets inside and outside of the UK. Its primary readership will be students and scholars of Lawrence, his period, and his contemporaries; it will also interest those researching any of the art forms and phenomena concerned in its chapters. Finally, it is anticipated that general readers with interests in Lawrence and/or the culture of his period will want to read this book.
The book concerns subject areas including modernism, aesthetics, cultural history, and the First World War. It would be useful for courses on modernist literature and its relations to the other art forms, as well as to previous literature, race, politics, gender, sexuality, self-representation, nature and technology.
There are no book-length studies of D. H. Lawrence and the arts. The closest competitors are:
Anne Fernihough, D.H. Lawrence: Aesthetics and Ideology (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2001), £115.
Fernihough’s monograph is currently the seminal text on Lawrence’s literary and art criticism, but our volume will considerably extend and also update this 2001 study, which develops a single thesis rather than multiple mutually-illuminating arguments.
D.H. Lawrence in Context, ed. Andrew Harrison (Cambridge: CUP, forthcoming in 2018), price to be established; similar CUP volumes around £80 hardback, £25 softback.
We believe that our volume will complement rather than compete with this one for the following reasons.
Our volume is less concerned with contextualising Lawrence for the benefit of those who are relatively new to him and his period, and more focused on categories which are suggested by the idiosyncrasies of Lawrence’s works themselves, in a manner which will stimulate existing Lawrence scholars, whilst also being accessible to those approaching Lawrence for the first time or from other disciplines. Whereas the chapter headings of D.H. Lawrence in Context denote generic categories such as ‘The Short Story’, ‘Novellas’, ‘Verse Forms’, our categories include ‘Practitioner Criticism: Painting/Prose/Poetry’, in which the crucial relationship between Lawrence’s criticism and creation in a given form is studied. ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’, ‘Queer Aesthetics’ and ‘The Idea of Technology’ are categories similarly tailored to Lawrence’s interests.
This major differentiator fits with the volumes’ respective titles; the CUP volume D.H. Lawrence in Context is universalist and seeks to place Lawrence in his context, whereas our volume is more centred on a) Lawrence, and b) aesthetics. None of our chapter titles has an equivalent in the CUP volume, with the partial exceptions of ‘National and Racial Aesthetics’ (the CUP equivalent is not concerned with aesthetics) and ‘Contemporary Cinematic Art’ (our chapter is concerned only with adaptations, not biopics, it concentrates on twenty-first century adaptations, and it explicitly addresses the question of why Lawrence has been adapted so many times). The CUP volume has no equivalent of our third section, which concerns not Lawrence’s influence on later writers, but his literary and visual depiction since his death.
The chapters in D.H. Lawrence in Context are limited to 4000 words, whereas the contributors to our volume will be able to fully explore their subjects in new and interesting ways in chapters of up to 7000 words.
Comparable EUP titles
The Edinburgh Companion to Virginia Woolf and the Arts (2010)
The Edinburgh Companion to T.S. Eliot and the Arts (2016)
Estimated total word count