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Indiana University Bloomington

Judith C. Brown

Judith C. Brown


Associate Professor
Director of Undergraduate Studies

Ph.D. Tufts University

My research focuses on modernist literature, culture, and aesthetics. In my first book, Glamour in Six Dimensions: Modernism and the Radiance of Form, I looked at a wide range of cultural productions—from high literary modernism to consumer items like cigarettes and Chanel No. 5—and found in them a shared aesthetic that bridges high and low, material and ephemeral modernisms. My research for this project, while grounded in literature, took me in a number of surprising directions from perfume chemistry to the history of the plastics industry to the aesthetic debates that framed the early decades of the twentieth century.

My current book-project, Passive States: Style and Global Modernism, pursues some of the same questions, but steps away from the Anglo-American context and considers passivity as a central, yet overlooked paradox for the generation of modernists facing the turmoil of the late colonial age. While the historical and political questions that define the early twentieth century seem to foreground artistic agency and activist struggle, a number of modernist writers and artists pursued the aesthetic capacities of the passive. What becomes of the passive in politically charged contexts? Attention to passivity, my book claims, rewrites the history of modernism, a movement conventionally defined by its radical polemics and aggressive activity. I look to a range of works—from paintings by Amrita Sher-Gil, to novels by R.K. Narayan, Ahmed Ali, and Virginia Woolf, to a public monument by Le Corbusier—that help complicate our understandings of the passive, and thus the ways we interpret modernism.

Courses Taught

Migration Stories
Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group
Modernist Cosmopolitanism
Nostalgia and Narrative
Aesthetic Theory and Modernism
Modernism and the Aesthetics of Feeling
Twentieth Century American Poetry
Modernist Primitivism
Regarding Nothing: Modernism and Absence
Literature and Anxiety
The Idea of Genius
Globalizing Modernisms

Select Publications (click images for more information)


Glamour in Six Dimensions: Modernism and the Radiance of FormGlamour in Six Dimensions: Modernism and the Radiance of Form (Cornell University Press, 2009).

Selected Essays:

"‘This globe, full of figures’: Virginia Woolf’s Comprehensive Economy," Yearbook of Comparative Literature (2016).

"Questions for R.K. Narayan," PMLA (2016).

"Style," in A New Vocabulary for Global Modernism, ed. Rebecca Walkowitz and Eric Hayot (Columbia UP, 2016).

"Glamour's Silhouette: Fashion, Fashun, and Modernism," in A Handbook of Modernism Studies, ed. Jean-Michel Rabaté (Blackwell, 2013).

"Pretty Richard," in Shakesqueer: The Queer Companion to the Complete Works of Shakespeare, ed. Madhavi Menon (Duke UP, 2011).

"Garbo's Glamour," in Modernist Star Maps, ed. Aaron Jaffe and Jonathan Goldberg (Ashgate Press, 2010).

"Geographies of Gender and Modernism," review essay in The Journal of Modern Literature 33 (2010).

"Cellophane Glamour," Modernism/Modernity (2008).

"Borderline, Sensation, and the Machinery of Expression," Modernism/Modernity (2007).

"A Certain Laughter: Sherwood Anderson's Experiment in Form," Modernist Cultures (2007).


Mellon Innovating International Research, Teaching, and Collaboration Innovation Workshop Award (2016)
IU India Gateway Workshop Award and Office of the Vice-President for International Affairs Matching Grant (2016)
New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities Fellowship (2016)
College Arts and Humanities Institute (CAHI) Fellowship (2015)
Indiana University Trustees Teaching Award (2011)
Exploratory Travel Fellowship, Indiana University (2009)
Mellon Fellowship, Penn Humanities Forum (2007-2008)
Indiana University Summer Faculty Fellowship (2007)