“Languages of Modernism,” the theme of the MSA XI conference in Montreal, designates standard languages such as English and French, as well as the many languages associated with cultural production: languages of music, visual art, architecture, theatre, dance, scenography, cinema. Some groups—youth culture, the fashion industry, popular music, the avant-garde—generate specialized languages that cross into mainstream languages. Many modernists lived between, or among, languages: James Joyce wrote in English, but he spoke French and Italian fluently; Billy Wilder and Marlene Dietrich grew up speaking German, but had their greatest success in English-speaking Hollywood. Modernism is crisscrossed by philosophies of language, as well as attempts to streamline language, as in C. K. Ogden’s invention of BASIC English. “Languages of Modernism” can be construed to mean vernacular, international, interdisciplinary, verbal and non-verbal, technological, aesthetic, and other kinds of “language.”
Although “Languages of Modernism” is the theme of the conference, participants are welcome to submit panel, seminar, and roundtable proposals on any topic; the primary criterion for selection will be the quality of the proposal, not its link to the conference theme.
Founded in 1999, the Modernist Studies Association is devoted to the study of the arts in their social, political, cultural, and intellectual contexts from the late nineteenth through the twentieth century. Through its annual conferences and journal, Modernism/Modernity, the organization seeks to develop an international and interdisciplinary forum for exchange among scholars in this revitalized and rapidly expanding field. The conference this year is co-hosted by Concordia University, McGill University, and the Université de Montréal, with generous financial support provided various departments and faculties.
*N.B. Beginning this year, U.S. citizens must have a passport/passport card to enter/exit Canada. Visit our travel page for more information.