Imprints of the New Modernist Editing

Art Editing Modernism

Welcome to the first publication emerging from the Imprints of the New Modernist Editing (INME). The INME project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and follows on from the New Modernist Editing Network. It provided a range of opportunities for writers, artists, editors and proofreaders, designers, publishers and interested members of the general public to come together, to share their insights and approaches to relationships between text, image and editing, and to put these into practical application.

This publication presents a range of new writing emerging from the four workshops held by the INME to date, along with images from those workshops (see below for outlines of each event).

Questions explored by the project events included:

  • What is the significance of the frequent cross-fertilisation of the visual and the literary in the art of the modernist period?
  • How do we take account of the particular technological and economic context in which modernist texts were written? Issues include increased authorial revision made possible by technologies of textual reproduction (cheaper printing, the typewriter); the economics (and aesthetics) of the little magazine/journal/periodical; the economics of larger publishing houses, etc.
  • What is the particular status of the typescript as manuscript? What challenges are posed by working with typescripts? – such as how to identify and treat ‘obvious typos’; how to respond to the physical qualities of the typescript (visual, tactile), etc.
  • How do we respond to the notion of authorial intention? For example: do we assume that obvious spelling errors ought to be corrected? Do we treat a ‘juvenile’ text differently from a mature work? – etc.
  • Given their experimental quality, do some modernist texts project an ideal future reader; that somewhere, one day, there will be a reader who will have a perfect understanding of the text? And if so, does that then suggest a model of the ideal editorial and reading practice?
  • Are there different sets of editorial rules for treating poetry, prose, playscripts, letters, diaries…?
  • How exhaustive can, or ought, annotation (explanatory notes) be?
  • What are the risks and rewards of new digital technologies in responding to modernist texts?
  • How do readers (born digital or otherwise) relate to iconic twentieth-century texts?

Project Team

Bryony Randall, Project Principal Investigator, is Professor of English Literature at the University of Glasgow, where she is a co-Director of the Textual Editing Lab. She is a co-General Editor of the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Virginia Woolf, and co-editor of Woolf’s short fiction, forthcoming for that edition. She is a volume editor for the Oxford University Press edition of the work of Dorothy Richardson. She recently edited a special issue of Modernist Cultures on the New Modernist Editing (2020), is co-editor with Jane Goldman of Virginia Woolf in Context (Cambridge University Press 2013), and author of Modernism, Daily Time and Everyday Life (Cambridge University Press 2007).

Edwin Pickstone, Project Co-Investigator, is Lecturer, Typography Technician and Designer in Residence at The Glasgow School of Art, where since 2005 he has cared for the school’s collection of letterpress printing equipment. Focusing on the material nature of print Pickstone uses letterpress technology, collaborating with artists and designers on a wide range of projects. His work spans academic, artistic and design worlds, with particular interest in the history of typography, graphic design, the physical nature of print and the book.

Jane Hyslop, Project Co-Investigator, is a Lecturer in Painting and Illustration at Edinburgh College of Art, The University of Edinburgh. Her work is centred upon print and the artists’ book where she extends the potential of the book form and the relationship between text and image. Currently she is developing a body of research using pochoir printing that investigates its history and application in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and its potential through contemporary practice. Her work is held in numerous collections including Yale Center for British Art, Tate Library Special Collections, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art Special Books Collection and the National Library of Scotland.​

Pip Osmond-Williams, Project Administrator, is a Scottish Literature academic and poet based in Glasgow. She was awarded a doctorate from the University of Glasgow in 2019 for her thesis ‘Changing Scotland: A Social History of Love in the Life and Work of Edwin Morgan’. Her poetry has been included in numerous anthologies and magazines, and she was shortlisted for the Alastair Reid Pamphlet Prize at Wigtown Poetry Festival in 2020.


The project team would like to thank its project partners MyBookcase, Corridor8 and The Laurence Sterne Trust at Shandy Hall. We are also extremely grateful for the generosity of the staff at the National Library of Scotland and Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art for their hosting of one of our workshops.

The Workshops

Yapping with Cutbush: A one-day practical workshop on letterpress typography and print, led by Edwin Pickstone (project Co-Investigator)

Glasgow School of Art, 5 December 2019

The early twentieth century saw great waves of reform, standardisation and professionalisation move through the European and American print industries. However, the period is also of great consequence for the breaking down of formal and orthodox barriers, with artists, authors and designers finding new senses of ‘authorship’ in the production of the printed word. Exploring this historical context, workshop participants were given the opportunity to better appreciate the practical and aesthetic considerations at play in the creation of modernist texts, through hands on experience of traditional technologies and the creation of their own new printed material. Held in the Caseroom, Glasgow School of Art this workshop gave participants an experience of how independent printers such as the Hogarth Press found new forms as they grappled to combine language and aesthetics with the practical restrictions of letterpress printing. Over the course of the day each participant moved through the roles of Editor, Designer, Printer and Binder to produce their own unique edition of Virginia Woolf’s short story ‘Ode written partly in prose on seeing the name of Cutbush above a butcher’s shop in Pentonville’.

What does it mean to be the ‘fellow-worker and accomplice’ of a (modernist) writer?*: a workshop-day exploring the work of the New Modernist Editing network, led by MyBookcase

Archives of the National Library of Scotland (NLS) and the Reading Room in the Modern & Contemporary Art Archive, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (SNGMA), 7 February 2020

The event opened at the archive of the NLS which holds a number of important books dating from the modernist period or drawing on modernist aesthetics, in particular those which raise challenging or unusual questions about the process of scholarly editing. Participants were given the opportunity to handle some of this material and were guided through it by curator Ian Scott. The group then moved to SNGMA, and were led by its librarian Kerry Watson in a workshop engaging with items from their internationally important collection of Futurist and Dada books and publications, among other materials.

Thereafter, Cristina Garriga and Julia Doz (My Bookcase) moderated a group Socratic Dialogue, following the model applied to the reading context currently explored by My Bookcase. The Socratic Dialogue offers a tool for creative thought. Its aim is to create a space for dialogue and debate where everyone is able to philosophise and where the input of each member of the audience is valued.

*The title of the workshop is borrowed from Virginia Woolf, quoted in the General Editors’ Preface to the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Virginia Woolf, by Jane Goldman, Susan Sellers and Bryony Randall, p. xi.

Blue & Green: A one-day practical workshop in pochoir printing, led by Jane Hyslop (project Co-Investigator)

Edinburgh College of Art, 21 February 2020

During the modernist period the pochoir printing technique was used extensively in fashion illustration. It offers a unique, liminal space between printing and painting in which artists such as Sonia Delaunay, Man Ray and Max Ernst became interested. Many of them made works associated with or including texts and imagery moved across the page allowing colour to be brought into the textual sphere.

This workshop began with a short presentation offering insight into the technique, its history and applications. There then followed a hands-on workshop enabling participants to gain direct experience of using pochoir, taking as its conceptual focus the relationship between image and text in the material form of the book.

Virginia Woolf’s ‘Blue and Green’ (1921) was selected as the text to be investigated offering a rich and evocative range of imagery that can be explored.

Participants started by working together tracing imagery, cutting stencils and mixing paints to learn how layers of colour can be applied. They then had the opportunity to make their own imagery using the pochoir technique to make a series of prints to take away from the event.

A one-day workshop run in collaboration with Corridor8 and co-delivered by Professor Andrew Thacker, Sarah Laing, Chris McCormack and Nick Thurston

The Bluecoat Centre for the Contemporary Arts, Liverpool, 6 March 2020

This one-day workshop was run in collaboration with Corridor8, the not-for-profit platform for contemporary visual arts and writing in the North of England, and its design responded directly to the skills training needs identified among their team of freelance writers and editors. This workshop provided a training opportunity for freelance editors working in the field of art writing and reviewing to a) hone their practical editorial skills in the context of a better understanding of the history and significance of editorial mark-up languages and b) engage with recent academic practice and innovation in the editing of literary and other creative texts from the modernist period. The day included:

  •  A seminar-style session on the history of art writing and the art journal, with a particular focus on the importance of the modernist period in this regard.
  •  A session on the notion of the experimental and avant-garde in both historical and contemporary contexts, and the implications for an editor of a piece of writing which may itself be characterised as experimental or avant-garde, or which is on the topic of an experimental/avant-garde artwork.
  •  A practical session on how to use editorial mark-up languages, framed with historical and theoretical context on their development and discussion of their role in the creative process.

A one-day workshop run in collaboration with the Laurence Sterne Trust and co-delivered by Patrick Wildgust and Jane Hyslop

Shandy Hall, the Laurence Sterne Trust, Coxwold, 29 August 2021

In response to the Imprints: Art Editing Modernism exhibition, held at Shandy Hall from 28 August – 11 September, this workshop focused on the question of the relationship between text and non-verbal elements – a key issue for modernist aesthetics – as they were presented at the exhibition and issues arising when curating such an exhibition. 

The workshop began with a tour of St Michael’s Church in Coxwold, where Laurence Sterne was once vicar and to where his skull was transferred in the 1960s. Patrick Wildgust, the curator of Shandy Hall, led the group’s examinations of Sterne’s gravestone, mounted on the porch wall of the church, and the eighteenth-century graffiti that cover the pews. The group then proceeded  to Shandy Hall where Patrick described the house and then examined the life of Laurence Sterne, the cross-overs between the real life figure and the fictional character of Tristram Shandy. He described the manner in which Sterne approached writing and his aspirations for The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman and the ways that the first edition was published, printed and distributed helped meet these. 

Jane Hyslop, Imprints of New Modernist Editing co-investigator invited the group to consider Imprints: Art Editing Modernism in the context of Shandy Hall, and of other artists’ approaches to the notion of editing. She described how each artist had come to the project, from the choices they made in terms of the texts they worked with to the mediums with which they employed, which were diverse. 

The day culminated in the dining room at Shandy Hall where participants were invited to take time in considering a collection of books laid out on the table. They took time to choose a book, without looking inside and then were offered the opportunity to spend some time with the volume, to look, to think and to discover. Did it meet their expectations? What were the intentions of the artist or author? How did the material qualities and structure of the book support the content? Many investigations led to other books then each participant presented their findings and discussions followed to round off a rich and inspiring day. 

Imprints of the New Modernist Editing
Art Editing Modernism