This Special Collection brings together contributions by scholars working at the intersection of modern and contemporary literature, material culture, ephemera, and archives. It explores how ephemera register in, are used by, and influence the form of modern(ist) and contemporary literary production, thereby considering how, and to what purposes, literary texts come to function as imaginary archives.

The gathering of ephemera – which we define with Maurice Rickards as ‘minor transient documents of everyday life’ (Collecting Printed Ephemera, 1988, p. 13) – into an archive is often understood as a documentary impulse which inevitably invites questions about what is kept and what is lost, whether by intention or accident. This Collection posits that literary texts, too (and the literary canon) represent an archival endeavour, offering a space within which ephemera can be recuperated and reimagined. It encompasses examinations of both real and fictional examples of ephemera in literature from 1900 to the present as well as considerations of the affective and critical work that can be done by creative acts using or recovering ephemeral objects. The essays gathered together here each explore the persistent presence of fragmentary, minor, and marginal ephemeral objects in relation to the aesthetic strategies of modern and contemporary literature.

Editors: Ann-Marie Einhaus (Guest Editor), Alexandra Peat (Guest Editor)

Special Collections