MSAX: Modernism and Global Media: Vanderbilt University: November 13-16, 2008 Nashville TN
 

MSA X Seminar Registration and Topics

 

 

• Click on the titles below to read full descriptions •

• To signup for a seminar, please email your TOP THREE seminar choices in order of preference to msax@vanderbilt.edu.  Please use “last name_SEMINAR REGISTRATION” as your subject heading.

• Deadline for seminar registration is July 28, 2008 (after this date, permission to join required).

 

Leading a Seminar (Information for Seminar Leaders)

 

About Seminars:

Seminars are one the most significant features of the MSA conference.  Participants write brief “position papers” (5-7 pages) that are read and circulated before the conference.  With no more than 15 participants, seminars generate lively exchange and sometimes produce networks of scholars who continue to work together beyond the conference.  The format also allows most conference attendees to seek financial support from their institutions as they educate themselves and their colleagues on subjects of mutual interest. Seminars are two hours in length.

 

 

 

1) Ameritopias: America in the Global Imagination/Globalism in America

Leaders: Genevieve Abravanel and Peter Lancelot Mallios

 

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2) Socialism, Communism and Internationalism

Leader:  David Ayers

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3) Recording Modernism

Leaders:  Sarah Bay-Cheng and Michael Coyle

 

>>CLOSED<<

4) James Joyce, Modernism, Modernity

Leader:  Gregory Castle

>>CLOSED<<

5) Uneven, Alternative, Multiple:  Modernism's Modernities

Leaders:  Patricia E. Chu, Leigh Anne Duck, and Jon Smith

 

>>CLOSED<<

6) Modernity's Public Sphere(s)

Leaders:  Patrick C. Collier and Barbara Green

7) Caribbean Modernism

Leader:  Loretta Collins

 

>>CLOSED<<

8) Land, Sea, War

Leaders: Thomas S. Davis and Nathan K. Hensley

9) Modernist Intellectual Properties

Leaders:  Kevin J. H. Dettmar and Paul K. Saint-Amour

 

>>CLOSED<<

10) Modernist Gene/alogies

Leader:  Renée Dickinson

11) British Screen Culture and (Trans)National Media
Leader:  James English

 

>>CLOSED<<

12) New/Renewed Woolf
Leader: Molly Hite

 

13) Remapping the Harlem Renaissance

Leader:  Susan Keller

 

 

>>CLOSED<<

14) The Secret Life of Global Media:  Spying, Detection, Political Intrigue
Leaders:  Phyllis Lassner and Kristin Bluemel

 

>>CLOSED<<

15) The Reception of Modernism

Leader:  Karen Leick

 

16) Landscape and Location: English Modernism & Rural England

Leader:  Tim Middleton

 

>>CLOSED<<

17) Writing Modern Lives

Leader:  Wendy Moffat

>>CLOSED<<

18) Race and Transnational Modernism in the Americas

Leader:  Anita Patterson

19) The Spanish Civil War and International Modernism

Leaders: Patricia Rae and Candida Rifkind

 

20) Modernism in New York: Emergence of the Global City

Leader:  Robert Reginio

>>CLOSED<<

21) Modernism and the Fantastic

Leaders:  Alexander Ruch and Timothy Wientzen

22) Re-conceiving Modernism: Women's Writing ca. WWII

Leaders: Demetres P. Tryphonopoulos and Lara Vetter

 

>>CLOSED<<

23) Late Modernism, Past and Present

Leader:  Philip Wegner

24) Children and War

Leader:  Karin Westman

>>CLOSED<<

25) Modernism and Home

Leaders:  Mary Wilson and Christopher Reed

 

   

 

 

Seminar: Ameritopias: America in the Global Imagination/Globalism in America

Leaders: Genevieve Abravanel and Peter Lancelot Mallios

 

Modernism came of age during what is often thought of as the American century. At the same time, much modernist writing seems the product of  transatlantic crossings, expatriation, global media  flows—transnationalism writ large. This seminar solicits papers in  which "America" mediates questions of modernism and transnationalism  either in the Americas or abroad. We welcome papers on either America as a site in the foreign imagination or foreign sites as they are enlisted  in American self-imaginings. Papers might range from considering jazz in  Egypt or Faulkner in Japan to exploring encounters with Huxley, Lenin,  or Dvorak in the Americas.

Plans are tentatively in the works to produce an edited collection based on this seminar topic.

 

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[THIS SEMINAR IS CLOSED]

 

Seminar: Socialism, Communism and Internationalism

Leader:  David Ayers

 

Socialist, communist and internationalist ideals have had a massive political and cultural impact throughout the modern period, yet their impact on modernism is sometimes underestimated. This seminar will examine writers who expressed support for socialist and internationalist ideals in the period 1900-1939, alongside writers who resisted such ideals. As well as work on writers such as Eliot, Woolf and Lawrence, contributions are welcome on figures such as Dos Passos, Clifford Odets, Winifred Holtby, Hugh MacDiarmid and Sylvia Townsend Warner. We will address the background narrative of labor politics and the Russian Revolution, and ask whether critical emphasis on ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation has sometimes obscured this aspect of modernist history.

 

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Seminar:  Recording Modernism

Leaders:  Sarah Bay-Cheng and Michael Coyle

This seminar considers the relations between recording technology and modernism as mutual sites of influence. To what extent were the cultural products of modernism shaped by recording technology and the ambivalence and enthusiasm toward it; to what extent did the mechanical reproductions themselves affect the development of modernism? How did modernist productions, in turn, influence the development of recording technologies and their cultural usage? We invite contributions that address the question of influence from a range of recording media including film, radio, photography, as well as considerations regarding the enduring impact in contemporary fields, such as digital poetics and mediatized theatre.

 

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Seminar:  James Joyce, Modernism, Modernity

Leader:  Gregory Castle

Joyce has long been a major figure in modernist studies, but in recent years, new approaches to Joyce's work and Joyce's Ireland has uncovered new connections to modernist movements and to the general condition of modernity. The seminar invites papers on all aspects of Joyce's work.  Participants might focus on reevaluating Joyce's investments in aesthetic modernism, his importance for conceptualizing a specifically Irish modernism, his relations with other major modernist figures.  They might read Joyce's modernism through a variety of lenses: queer and gender studies, cultural studies, critical theory, historicist and materialist approaches, postcolonial studies, and new philosophical theories (e.g., those of Badiou and Agamben) and so on.

 

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Seminar:  Uneven, Alternative, Multiple:  Modernism's Modernities

Leaders:  Patricia E. Chu, Leigh Anne Duck, and Jon Smith

 

We are interested in discussing modernity's essential heterogeneity. In many

discussions about abstract (Western) modernity fragmentation is cited as characteristic, and older models of center-periphery have fallen to the side, but despite the insights of intellectuals such as C.L.R. James and W.E.B. Dubois (extended into modernist studies by Paul Gilroy, Rey Chow, Aldon Nielsen, Hazel Carby and others) we have not yet replaced them with paradigms that could accommodate modernism’s many modernities during the interwar years. We hope seminar participants will range widely: “semi-peripheries” of Europe such as Prague, U.S. economic and cultural deployment and "development" of the American South and the Latin South, 1920s and 1930s anticolonial movements, varying temporalities of modernization in (former) colonies in Asia and within the Anglo-American and European “West” itself. This seminar seeks papers that address the unevenness of the "modernity" underlying the production of modernism.

 

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Seminar:  Modernity's Public Sphere(s)

Leaders:  Patrick C. Collier and Barbara Green

 

Theory of the public sphere would seem to match nicely with modernist studies' recent emphasis on the engagements and imbrications of aesthetic production with economics, politics, and mass culture.

Modernism certainly arises from (and contributes to) various instabilities and anxieties around concepts of "the public," rational debate, and self-governance.  Indeed, numerous recent studies have drawn on the public sphere theory of Jurgen Habermas and his many respondents.  This seminar will consider ways in which modernist studies' engagement with public sphere theory might be extended. Questions to be considered include: how does public sphere theory relate to other prominent theoretical models, such as Andreas Huyssen's elucidation and problematization of the "great divide"?  To what degree is public sphere theory adequate to newer critical preoccupations, including affect and the sentimental, everyday life, periodical studies, and global contexts, and how do these critical trends in turn call for revision of the theory?

 

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Seminar:  Carbbean Modernism

Leader:  Loretta Collins


This seminar critically examines the impact of Caribbean expressive arts on Modernism and impact of Modernism on Caribbean literature, film, music, visual arts, performance arts, and/ or popular arts. The seminar may include a discussion of a broad range of subjects and genres, such as Negrismo, Négritude and Modernism; Caribbean Folklore and Modernism; the voicing of the Caribbean in Modernist  and Late Modernist texts; relations between Caribbean Modernism and Caribbean indigenous culture; Primitivism. These examples are not meant to be restrictive: papers on the Anglophone Caribbean, Hispanophone Caribbean, Francophone Caribbean, Netherlands Antilles, Guyana, or Brazil are all welcome, as well as those that address the role of the Caribbean in American and European Modernism.

 

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Seminar:  Land, Sea, War

Leaders: Thomas S. Davis and Nathan K. Hensley

 

By drawing on Black Atlantic studies, critical cosmopolitanism, and geomodernism, the new modernist studies has re-opened the question of internationalism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  This seminar proposes to extend that line of questioning by asking how the term “internationalism” might name not just open sites of cultural exchange, but also the realpolitik of the long twentieth century’s state- and war-making activities.  How might modernist aesthetics be implicated in, or respond to, these material realities?  Topics may include:  The emergence of geopolitical discourse; the League of Nations; war theory; travel writing and gender politics; documentary film/global cinema; partition and poetics.

 

 

Seminar:  Modernist Intellectual Properties

Leaders:  Kevin J. H. Dettmar and Paul K. Saint-Amour

 

Modernist scholarship of the 1990s began to think in new ways about the market economy of the early twentieth century; the logical successor to that work explores modernism's relationship to the intellectual property (i.p.) regimes that were being consolidated during the same period. This seminar will address how modernist works variously anticipated, resisted, circumvented, and depended on i.p. law. We will also consider how early-twenty-first-century i.p. laws continue to shape, and often to constrain, the study, adaptation, and performance of modernist works.  Possible approaches include copyright and censorship; cinema and rights of publicity; drama and performance rights; the 1909 Copyright Act and compulsory licensing; attribution and reputation; modernist estates and scholarly fair use.

 

 

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Seminar:  Modernist Gene/alogies

Leader:  Renée Dickinson

 

On the eve of the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species, Modernist Gene/alogies asks how the understanding of evolution and genetics developed in modernist/modern culture, how that understanding was communicated and facilitated by the media, and how these ideas contributed to an interest in family histories, genetics, and heredity. Papers are invited on ancestors and inheritors of Darwin’s theories and practices and how they are present in modernist arts and culture; representations, understandings and interpretations of Darwin’s theories as mediated through modernist/modern culture; and developments in genetics, genealogy, family history, and heredity in high, middle-brow and low culture representations.

 

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Seminar:  British Screen Culture and (Trans)National Media
Leader:  James English


This seminar will consider nationalism and its limits with respect to British film, video, television, and other screen media.  Papers may focus on any historical moment from the early twentieth century to the present, and may approach screen culture in terms of aesthetic form, technologies of production or reception, economics, ideology, or through any other optic -- but they should concern themselves to some degree with questions of national specificity and difference, and they should relate their materials to modernist concerns or modernist practices.
 Issues might include Americanization, Europeanization, globalization, postcolonialism, multiculturalism, devolution, or diaspora.  What has been the role of British screen culture outside of the UK, and how has that culture itself been shaped by transnational forces?   

 

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Seminar: New/Renewed Woolf
Leader: Molly Hite

What are the really new, productive approaches to Virginia Woolf studies? Or, what critical or theoretical works that are at least twenty years old would you recommend reviving to think in new ways about the writings of Virginia Woolf today?  Papers could consider, for example, cognitive studies, critical legal studies, critical geography, book history, reception studies, new formalisms, different historical angles or bodies of historical  knowledge, global intertextual studies, narrative ethics, new theorizations,  earlier critical work (Winifred Holtby, Ruth Gruber, Eric Auerbach,  etc.).

 

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Seminar: Remapping the Harlem Renaissance

Leader:  Susan Keller

 

Recent scholarship has broadened our understanding of the “Harlem Renaissance,” revealing the limitations of using that geographic term to describe a wide-ranging international, perhaps even global, “New Negro” movement.  In light of recent recovery projects, scholars need to reassess some questions central to the study of the Harlem Renaissance:  What was the Harlem Renaissance’s relationship to modernism and the avant-garde?  How were their aesthetic projects connected to their political or social ones? This seminar is particularly interested in the Harlem Renaissance’s relationship to space and location, including, but not limited to, flânerie,travel, tourism, expatriate experience, migration, and the colonial periphery. We will ask, in short, where are Harlem Renaissance studies going?

 

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Seminar:  The Secret Life of Global Media:  Spying, Detection, Political Intrigue.
Leaders:  Phyllis Lassner and Kristin Bluemel


 This seminar will focus on various global media -- print, film, radio, TV, graphics -- that represent international, transnational, or national stories about spying, detection, and political and domestic intrigue in relation to modernist narrative forms.  Possible topics include:  the complicated cultural, gendered, classed, ethnic, and racial identities and allegiances of detectives, spies, secret, double agents and their objects of suspicion; the cultural work of the thriller; multifaceted meanings of codes, clues, and their transmission; contexts such as the Russian Revolution, World Wars I and II, the Spanish Civil War, the Cold War, and civil strife.

 

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[THIS SEMINAR IS CLOSED]

 

Seminar:  The Reception of Modernism

Leader:  Karen Leick

 

How does an accurate and nuanced historical understanding of the reception of modernism challenge conventional accounts of the cultural role of modernist texts and authors? This seminar will consider aspects of the reception history of modernism that have been forgotten, repressed, or otherwise excluded from institutional memory. Papers may examine: the mainstream or popular reception of particular texts or authors; the role of periodicals in promoting modernism; the reception of little magazines; differences between the receptions of writers in Britain, the United States, and elsewhere; receptions that shifted over the course of the 20th century (and the reasons for these dramatic shifts).

 

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Seminar:  Landscape and Location: English Modernism & Rural England

Leader:  Tim Middleton

 

Whilst the association of the city with modernity and modernisms is widely assumed,  the role of the rural in English modernisms has received less attention. Yet rural locations are key in works by writers as diverse as Mary Butts, E.M. Forster, Constance Holme, and D.H. Lawrence. This seminar invites contributions that examine the ways in which modernist writers, filmmakers and/or artists working represented English landscape and rural locations. It will be interested in the relation of Englishness to modernism and in the ways that specific representations of rural locales serve simultaneously as  both a refuge from and a register of the conflicts of modernity.

 

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Seminar:  Writing Modern Lives

Leader:  Wendy Moffat

 

When I told my editor “I want to write a book about writing this book,” he replied dryly “Biographers always do.”

 

This seminar is designed to bring together scholars using biography as one of the aspects of their work in modernism. Our focus will be on the middle ground of method. We’ll pay special attention to the complications of writing about lives from the modernist period, including 1. capturing sensibilities which have been erased or displaced; 2. decoding archival resources and oral histories; 3. mediating between theory and story for your audience.

 

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[THIS SEMINAR IS CLOSED]

 

Seminar:  Race and Transnational Modernism in the Americas

Leader:  Anita Patterson

 

This seminar examines institutional dynamics and literary exchanges that linked black writers in the United States, the Caribbean, and Latin America to their European and American avant-garde contemporaries.  Topics include interracial literary collaborations solidifying a common front against Fascism during the 1930s; generative tensions between modernist lyric practices and the cultural politics of anti-colonial nationalism that gave rise to the Indigenistes and Négritude movements,

Pan-Africanism, and contending forms of black internationalism; and the role of translation, transnational print culture, international congresses, and universities in forming crucial points of contact and difference among writers in the Americas, Europe, and the United States.

 

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Seminar: The Spanish Civil War and International Modernism

Leaders: Patricia Rae and Candida Rifkind

 

This seminar will explore how the special character of the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) -- its moment in history, its international participants and internecine conflicts, its representation in global media, its outcome and aftermath -- shaped modernist literary forms and other cultural artifacts produced to variously describe, document, and in some cases efface or repress what happened there. Our discussion aims to redress the silence about the cultural output of the “premature anti-fascists” in mainstream literary history and to understand the widespread aesthetic engagement with the Spanish Civil War as a transnational, international, and interdisciplinary confluence of media.  Papers are especially welcome that consider the echo effect of modernist experiments that emerged in response to World War I, that draw from new materials emerging from the archives and from lesser known writers and artists, or that focus on countries outside the United States and Britain.

 

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Seminar:  Modernism in New York: Emergence of the Global City

Leader:  Robert Reginio

 

95 years after the Armory Show brought continental modernism to an American audience, new studies are needed to reconsider the art, culture, and literature of early American modernism. American modernist art and literature was shaped in part by both New York City’s radical demographic shifts and the parallel influx of European avant-garde artists to the city during the Great War. This seminar seeks to spark a conversation about any of the cultures in and around New York City during the first half of the twentieth century, asking how exile and immigration (e.g., in relation to "New York Dada") or urban migration (e.g., writers typically associated with the Harlem Renaissance) shaped the aesthetic, cultural, and political debates occurring at the time.

 

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Seminar:  Modernism and the Fantastic

Leaders:  Alexander Ruch and Timothy Wientzen

 

From Orlando's sex change to Gregor Samsa's transformation and Max Ernst's bird-women, many modernist works utilize elements of the fantastic, yet few studies have attempted to theorize the specific ways in which modernism has recourse to fantastic representation.  Generally understood as a kind of anti-mimetic representation that brings about a questioning or de-realization of the established fictional world, the fantastic has been a source of much critical theorizing (by Sartre, Todorov, Rabkin, Jackson, Cornwell, etc.) and is operative in such modes as the gothic, the grotesque, the absurd, and the supernatural, as well as such distinctly twentieth-century forms as surrealism and magic realism.  This seminar asks how a consideration of the fantastic changes our notions of the political, social, and aesthetic ambitions of modernism.

 

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Seminar:  Re-conceiving Modernism: Women's Writing ca. WWII

Leaders: Demetres P. Tryphonopoulos and Lara Vetter

 

How do we re-conceive a writer's oeuvre when archived and previously unavailable literary work begins to see the light of publication?  How do we think differently about a writer's earlier texts when her late modernist writings become more readily accessible?  For instance, what will happen once H.D.'s "Delia Alton" trilogy (The Sword Went Out to Sea [published in 2007], The White Rose and the Red, The Mystery) along with Majic Ring take their place as prose companions to her other writings?  This seminar invites participants to consider the changing landscape of the literary reception of women authors writing around the time of World War II once archived materials begin to be circulated widely in print.

 

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[THIS SEMINAR IS CLOSED]

 

Seminar:  Late Modernism, Past and Present

Leader:  Philip Wegner

 

One of the most significant contributions of Fredric Jameson’s A Singular Modernity (2002) lies in his original theorization of a post-World War II “late modernism” that represents a transitional moment between high modernism and both the cultural efflorescence of the 1960s and a later postmodernism.  Moreover, he argues that this late modernism has seen something of a resurgence in recent years, with the anti-theoretical and anti-historicist calls for “returns” to aesthetics, ethics, and formalism.  This seminar invites contributions that deal with any aspect of late modernism, then and now, in terms of its theorization, the formation of the “ideology of modernism,” its relationship to a periodization of modernism, the distinctions between returns and repetitions, or any specific works, figures, practices, or movements.

 

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Seminar:  Children and War

Leader:  Karin Westman

Our goal will be to map the intersections of the two (competing? complementary?) cultural narratives: the modern child and modern war. What happens when we view the wars of the modernist period through the perspective of the child and children’s culture? To what extent do these stories and histories echo the established narrative tropes and themes of modernism, or introduce new ones? To what purpose are these stories and histories told (to expand the empire? to consolidate national identity? to call for peace?), and for whom are they told?  Papers might address literature, film, illustrations, textbooks, or periodicals for the child or adult reader. Possible authors include well-known modernists such as Rudyard Kipling, Henry Newbolt, Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf, and C.S. Lewis, as well as works by Dino Buzzati (The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily
, 1945), Hugh Lofting, Munro Leaf, Noel Streatfeild, and many other authors, illustrators, and animators at the intersection of children and war.

 

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[THIS SEMINAR IS CLOSED]

 

Seminar: Modernism and Home

Leaders:  Mary Wilson and Christopher Reed

 

This seminar invites papers on the intersections of modernism and domesticity.  How does “home,” in its many forms, function in the context of modernism?  How does modernism shape our ideas about domesticity?  We are particularly interested in constructions of domesticity that incorporate elements of the exotic and the interplay between the 'at home' and the 'far away.'  We encourage interdisciplinary perspectives.  Topics may include: visual aspects of the modern home in terms of histories of design and publication; domesticity and literary form; modernism and privacy; ideologies of domesticity; domesticity and class; homelessness and unhoming; home as nation; home and gender.  Invited participant: Victoria Rosner, Texas A&M University.

 

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Please direct all inquiries to msax@vanderbilt.edu.

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