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University of Oxford Faculty of English

Beasley, Rebecca

Position: Associate Professor; Tutorial Fellow, The Queen's College
College: Queen's
Subject/Period: 20th/21st Century

Email address:

Image of Dr Rebecca Beasley

Research Interests:

Until recently, my research has primarily concerned Anglo-American modernist poetry, especially in relation to the visual arts. I am now working on a book project about the impact of Russian culture on British modernism, between 1880 and 1940. This study argues that the British cultural construction of Russia not only fed into, but focused and reformed the defining questions of modernism: the relation between writer and audience (individual vs. mass), the relation between the literary work and lived experience (the nature of realism), and the relation between language and action (abstraction vs. the concrete).  Chapters analyse points of conjunction between Russian and British culture, such as the simple life movement, ideologies of translation, the development of Russian as a university subject, the idea of the intelligentsia, varieties of theatrical performance, the cinema, and the concept of internationalism. Though canonical literary figures (Joseph Conrad, T.S. Eliot, Ford Madox Ford, D.H. Lawrence, Wyndham Lewis, Katherine Mansfield, George Bernard Shaw and Virginia Woolf) are significant in this narrative, they are studied here primarily for the roles they, and their texts, play in broader cultural networks and institutional histories, and much less well known writers, translators and mediators (Iris Barry, Huntly Carter, John Cournos, John Gould Fletcher, Olive Garnett, Stephen Graham, William Gerhardie), are at least as important. My initial work in this area has been published in Geographies of Modernism, ed. Peter Brooker and Andrew Thacker (Routledge, 2005) and Global Modernisms, ed. Mark Wollaeger (Oxford University Press, 2012), and publications edited with Philip Ross Bullock (Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages) developed from the 2009 conference 'Russia in Britain, 1880-1940: Reception, Translation and the Modernist Cultural Agenda': a special issue of Translation and Literature, Translating Russia, 1890-1935 (2011), and Russia in Britain, 1880-1940: From Melodrama to Modernism (Oxford University Press, 2013). For this work I was awarded Research Fellowships by the Leverhulme Trust and the AHRC. Future projects include a book on modernism across different media in mid-twentieth-century Britain, and a study of the relationship between twentieth-century poetry and educational theory in the United States.

In 2011, I initiated with Matthew Taunton (University of East Anglia), the Anglo-Russian Research Network to bring together researchers working on the influence of Russian and Soviet culture and politics in Britain in the period 1880-1950. Since September 2011 we have held termly reading groups at Pushkin House, which are open to anyone with an interest in the subject. We are currently looking into developing the Network further, and would be delighted to hear from any groups or individuals who would like to collaborate.

During 2011-12, with my colleagues Emma Smith and Abigail Williams, I acted as a consultant for Great Writers Inspire, a JISC and HEA funded project run by the Learning Technologies Group of Oxford’s IT Services. The project brings together thousands of literature resources—ebooks, lectures, and essays—and makes them freely available for reuse for teaching and learning worldwide. You can hear a short talk I recorded for the project on Ezra Pound here, and watch a debate I chaired between my colleagues on the topic of ‘What is a Great Writer?’ here.


Teaching Areas:

Undergraduate: 19th century to the present day

Postgraduate: 20th century

I’ve supervised or co-supervised nine doctoral projects to successful completion, and am currently supervising six students, working in the areas of twentieth-century visual culture, modernist poetry, and mid-twentieth-century travel writing. I’d be delighted to hear from potential applicants wanting to work on any aspects of early twentieth-century literature.  From 2015-17, I will be the Faculty’s Director of Graduate Admissions.



Books and collections

Ed. with Philip Ross Bullock, Russia in Britain: From Melodrama to Modernism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013)

Ed. with Philip Ross Bullock, Translating Russia, 1890-1935 (special issue of Translation and Literature), 20 (2011)

T.S. Eliot, T.E. Hulme, Ezra Pound: Theorists of Modernist Poetry (London: Routledge, 2007)

Ezra Pound and the Visual Culture of Modernism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007; paperback 2010)


Chapters and journal articles

‘Non-translation and the international future’, in Modernism and Non-Translation, ed. by Jason Harding and John Nash (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2017)

‘Ezra Pound and the Modernist Visual Revolution’, in Approaches to Teaching Ezra Pound’s Poetry and Prose, ed. Ira B. Nadel and Demetres P. Tryphonopoulos (New York: MLA, forthcoming 2017)

'Ezra Pound', in A Companion to Modernist Poetry, ed. by David E. Chinitz and Gail McDonald (Oxford: Blackwell, 2014)

'Vortorussophilia', in Vorticism: New Perspectives, ed. by Mark Antliff and Scott Klein (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), pp. 33-50

'Reading Russian: Russian Studies and the Literary Canon', in Russia in Britain: From Melodrama to Modernism, ed. by Rebecca Beasley and Philip Ross Bullock (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), pp. 162-87

With Philip Ross Bullock, 'Introduction: Against Influence: On Writing about Russian Culture in Britain', in Russia in Britain: From Melodrama to Modernism, ed. by Rebecca Beasley and Philip Ross Bullock (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), pp. 1-18

'In violet ink: Virginia Woolf's "translations"', Times Literary Supplement, 1 February 2013, 14-15

'On Not Knowing Russian: The Translations of Virginia Woolf and S.S. Kotelianskii', Modern Language Review, 108 (2013), 1-29

'Love and Honour, or the Adventures of Serinda', in Senate House Library: University of London, ed. by Christopher Pressler and Karen Attar (London: Scala, 2012)

'Modernism’s Translations', in The Oxford Handbook of Global Modernisms, ed. by Mark Wollaeger with Matt Eatough (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. 551-70

With Philip Ross Bullock, 'Introduction: The Illusion of Transparency', in Translating Russia, 1890-1935 (special issue of Translation and Literature), 20 (2011), 283-300

'Pound's New Criticism', Textual Practice, 24 (2010), 651-71, rpt in Thinking Poetry, ed. by Peter Nicholls and Peter Boxall (London: Routledge, 2013)

Visual Arts’, in Ezra Pound in Context, ed. by Ira B. Nadel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), pp. 309-319

'Literature and the Visual Arts: Art and Letters (1917-20); The Apple (1920-22)', in Modernist Magazines: A Critical and Cultural History: Britain and Ireland, 1880-1945, ed. by Peter Brooker and Andrew Thacker (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), pp. 485-504

'Wyndham Lewis and Modernist Satire', in The Cambridge Companion to the Modernist Novel, ed. by Morag Shiach (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 126-36

'"A Definite Meaning": T.E. Hulme’s Art Criticism', in T.E. Hulme and the Question of Modernism, ed. by Andrzej Gasiorek and Edward P. Comentale (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006), pp. 57-72, republished on-line as part of the Tate's project, The Camden Town Group in Context.

'Russia and the Invention of the Modernist Intelligentsia', in Geographies of Modernism: Literatures, Cultures, Spaces, ed. by Peter Brooker and Andrew Thacker (London: Routledge, 2005), pp. 19-30

The Modern Public and Vortography’, in Ezra Pound and Referentiality, ed. by Hélène Aji (Paris: Presses de l’Université de Paris-Sorbonne, 2003), pp. 177-89

'Towards problem-based learning in English studies', Learning Matters, 13 (2003), 2-3

Ezra Pound’s Whistler’, American Literature, 74 (2002), 485-516

Art as Propaganda for Literary Modernism’, New Formations, 43 (2001), 117-29

Dada’s Place in The Cantos’, Paideuma, 30 (2001), 39-41



'Ezra Pound': a 15 minute talk for the Great Writers Inspire project.

'From British Avant-Garde to American Renaissance: Ezra Pound and Vorticism': a 30 minute talk given at the Repositioning Vorticism symposium held at Tate Britain to accompany their 2011 exhibition The Vorticists: Manifesto for a Modern World.


Other Information:

Rebecca Beasley studied at Cambridge (BA, PhD) and the University of California, Berkeley (MA).  She joined the Faculty in 2009, after holding posts at Queen Mary, University of London (1998-99), the University of Liverpool (1999-2000), and Birkbeck College, University of London (2000-2009). She is general editor, with Tim Armstrong (Royal Holloway), of the Edinburgh University Press series, Edinburgh Critical Studies in Modernist Culture, and is on the editorial boards of the journals Modernist Cultures, Textual Practice, Affirmations: Of the Modern, and The Journal of Wyndham Lewis Studies.  Since 2000 she has been a member of the organising committee of the Modernism Seminar at the Institute of English Studies, University of London, and she was Chair of the British Association for Modernist Studies from 2014 to 2015.

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