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The “Transition to Modernism”: Recent Research on the Victorian/Modern Divide


Correspondence: Department of English, Western Washington University, 516 High Street, Bellingham, WA 98225, USA. Email:


This article surveys new scholarship that straddles the Victorian/Modern divide, reading this work within the context of questions about the usefulness of the terms “Victorian” and “modernist.” Recent work that traces lines of continuity between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries reveals the sustained conversations taking place across the century's turn. Consideration of the transnational and global circulation of aesthetic ideals, which broadens the timeline and the definition of aesthetic movements, has contributed to the contestation of conventional categories of periodization. Additionally, as scholars move away from the tendency to equate Victorianism with tradition and conservatism and modernism with radicalism, a newly rich picture of the political complexity of the turn of the century has emerged.