English, Department of


Date of this Version

Winter 2010


Journal of Modern Literature (Winter 2010) 33(2): 24-46.


Copyright 2010, University of Indiana Press. Used by permission.


The relation of modernism to immigrant literatures should not be conceived in terms of an opposition between universalistic and particularistic discourses. Rather, we should explore what can be called a modernist transnationalism based on a general universalist argument. Two examples of this transnationalism are explored side by side: Ezra Pound’s and Anzia Yezierska’s definitions of the aesthetic act in terms of translation. The readings show that the critical discourses of these two authors are structured by a belief in universalism while showing opposite possibilities, both generated by modernist transnationalism. The essay concludes that we now need to interpret the cultures of modernism in their variety as contesting political universalities.