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Indiana University Bloomington

Edward Comentale

Edward Comentale


Director of Undergraduate Studies

Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo, 1999
B.A., Boston University, 1993

I am a modernist scholar trying to write my way out of modernism. Most of my work focuses on the relation between modernist aesthetics and cultural production, but I find myself drawn to those times and spaces in twentieth-century history in which high modernism fails to address the conditions of twentieth-century life and creative populations are forced to develop alternate means of address. My first book, Modernism, Cultural Production, and the British Avant-Garde, considers early versions of the avant-garde as they emerged out of rapidly industrializing nations to confront – if not halt – the productive imperative of the new age. More recently, I’ve pushed this discussion away from the salon and the city. Recent articles on the modernist Midwest, William Faulkner, country music, and the Coen brothers have allowed me to explore the use of critical aesthetic strategies in American contexts and more popular forms. I am currently completing a monograph on modernism, regionalism, and popular music, titled The State I’m In: Modernism and American Popular Music. The book tracks the evolution of the three-minute pop song from the Appalachian ballad to Texas rockabilly as it provides an alternate negotiation of the processes of modernization. By outlining a modernity that is at once poor, rural, and musical (rather than urban and literate), the project challenges the geographic and historical presuppositions of early twentieth-century criticism and then moves towards a positive theory of vernacular modernism and its social/political engagement. I am also co-editing a collection of essays titled The Year’s Work in Lebowski Studies, which examines the cult following of The Big Lebowski and explores the connections between fan-based societies and academia. The collection brings together scholars in film, literature, cultural studies, musicology, and history to discuss the various ways in which critical thinking is enacted within and by popular texts and audiences.

Click here for further information regarding Professor Comentale's work in 20th Century Literature and culture. >>

Recent Courses

L384: Music/Lyric/Voice
L369: Studies in British and American Authors (Special Topic: Faulkner’s Voices)
L680: Literary Studies and Literary Theory (Special Topic: Modernism and Anti-humanism)
L371: Critical Practices (Special Topic: Critical Theory and the Coen Brothers)
L346: Twentieth-Century British Fiction (Special Topic: Style and Subculture)
L380: Literary Modernism (Special Topic: The Physics of Modernism)
L749: Twentieth-Century British Literature (Special Topic: Flesh and Metal – Modernism and the Body)

Selected Publications (click images for more information)


The Year’s Work in Lebowski StudiesThe Year’s Work in Lebowski Studies, co-edited with Aaron Jaffe (Indiana University Press, 2009).

T. E. Hulme and the Question of ModernismT. E. Hulme and the Question of Modernism, co-edited with Andrzej Gasiorek (Ashgate Press, 2006).

The Cultural Politics of Ian Fleming and 007 Ian Fleming and James Bond: The Cultural Politics of007, co-edited with Stephen Watt, and Skip Willman (Indiana University Press, 2005).

Modernism, Cultural Production, and the British Avant-GardeModernism, Cultural Production, and the British Avant-Garde (Cambridge University Press, 2004).

The State I’m In: Modernism and American Popular Music – in progress.


“Four Elvises,” forthcoming in Modernism and Celebrity (Ashgate Press, 2008).

“The Possibilities of Hard-Won Land: Midwestern Modernism and the Novel,” forthcoming in Blackwell Companion to the Modern American Novel (Blackwell Press, 2008).

“I’ll Keep Rolling Along”: Some Notes on Frontiers, Country Music, and Bowling Alleys in The Big Lebowski,” in The Year’s Work in Lebowski Studies (Indiana University Press, 2008).

“‘It Ain’t Me Babe’: Bob Dylan as American Icon,” in American Icons: People, Places, Things (Greenwood Press, 2006).

“Hulme’s Feelings,” in T. E. Hulme & the Question of Modernism (Ashgate Press, 2006).

“The Shropshire Schizoid and Other Modernist Machines” (inaugural issue of Modernist Cultures, 2005).

“Ian Fleming’s Company Man: James Bond and the Management of Modernism,” in The Cultural Politics of Ian Fleming and 007 (Indiana University Press, 2005).

“Thesmophoria: Suffragettes, Sympathetic Magic, and Classical Modernism," Modernism/Modernity. 8:3 (September 2001).


"On Writing and the Profession," Panel arranged by English Department for the Carnegie Initiative on the Doctorate Carnegie. Bloomington, Indiana, 2004.

"Applying and Interviewing for your First Job." The Forty-Second Annual Convention of the Midwest Modern Language Association. Kansas City, Missouri. November, 2000.

"Tales from the Market: The Successful Job Search." 8th Annual Indiana University Conference in the Humanities. Bloomington, Indiana. March, 2000.