This article considers Virginia Woolf’s late writing—The Years, Three Guineas, and Between the Acts—in the context of recent shifts within modernist studies. It examines a range of scholarly narratives about this period of Woolf’s writing, arguing for the importance of considering these three works alongside one another. Faced with the rise of fascism and the onset of World War II, Woolf became increasingly concerned not only with political change, but also with the forms and modes through which the sociopolitical is represented. Her own pacifist, feminist interrogation of the forces of tyranny at home and abroad led her to test out different genres and media as a response to political crisis. In particular, her late writing is characterized by a desire to defamiliarize conventional (whether militaristic or misogynist) ways of seeing and thinking.
This article explores what it means for an African American writer to revisit his own relations to the legacies of modernism to address the fraught subject of modernizing Africa. It suggests that one may be able to explore the problem of writing the postcolonial state by turning to a visual form: that of photography, with its own histories of formal experimentation and response to social crisis. The article discusses this framework of modernity by looking at Richard Wright's transnational critique, Black Power: The Record of Reaction in a Land of Pathos. Black Power is an exemplary text of the self-reinvention of the black writer after modernism, confronting the eddying currents of modernity and its histories of forward motion and regression. The discussion considers Wright's uses of the photograph as an object with a radically mixed temporality.