My dissertation, “The Bookends of Modernism: Genre Fiction, Graphic Poetics, and the Market,” explores how a modernist principle of aesthetic autonomy emerges in antagonism to fin-de-siècle processes of marketization and persists today within cultural forms subsumed by the market. Through analyses of book-bound artworks at the historical bookends of modernism’s canonical periodization, the project argues for a more integrative and inclusive concept of aesthetic autonomy as the organizing principle of literary modernism. By demonstrating this principle’s structuring presence within forms like popular genre fiction, experimental novels about race, political performance art, graphic design, and contemporary sequel novels, I show how cultural problems and projects often deemed antithetical to autonomous art can actually be intrinsic to it. Modernist art’s assertion of aesthetic autonomy thus comes into focus not as a dissimulation of social reality or merely a matter of elite taste, but rather as a diversely inhabited and historically adaptable mode of making sensuously intelligible truth claims about history, sociality, and perception under capitalism.

Part of the dissertation's third chapter is published in nonsite: “Mary Ellen Solt: Concretizing 1968."