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Modernism’s Global Reach and the “British World”

Recent landmark works in imperial historiography by such noteworthy scholars as John Darwin, James Belich, and Simon Potter have noted how conceptions of the British Empire began to change over the last two decades of the nineteenth century. Where before overseas migration to the colonies had born an innate stigma, the development of faster communication technologies, the expansion of international finance capital, and the emergence of a cultural sense of pan-Britishness all contributed to a reevaluation of the role of settler colonies within the British Empire during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In this respect, this panel proposes to interrogate the role that new ideas about a dispersed “British world” played in the formation and institutionalization of modernism as a distinct cultural movement. To what extent did modernist-era notions of cultural difference and/or universalism rely on an imagined global space that was dependent upon, in dialogue with, or contaminated by notions of a decentered “British world”? How did ideas of a “British world” intersect with or diverge from other aspiring global movements, such as communism, pan-Africanism, and cosmopolitanism? How did the formal properties of modernist works engage with the peculiarities of semiperipheral dominions like South Africa, Australia, and Canada? And how does an attention to “British world” space impact upon our histories and geographies of modernism?

By placing modernism within an emerging “British world” space, this panel seeks to investigate both the commonalities and the divergences between historical scholarship on the “British world” and the “global” turn in modernist studies. Potential paper topics include (but are not limited to):

• Communications technologies and global space
• The creation of an imperial British news service
• The impact of international finance capital upon modernist representations (especially as it relates to the interwar “Sterling bloc”)
• Modernist experimentalism in the dominions
• Home rule, nationalism, and the changing status of colonial Anglo elites
• Theorizations of semiperipheral modernism
• The position of non-Anglo immigrants in the “British world”
• Modernist primitivism, British civilization, and the middle space of neo-British dominions
• Colonial masculinity in the dominions
• Modernist theorizations of the historical and geographic breadth of the “British world”
• Reimaginings of “old” Anglo elites (the Anglo-Irish, Anglo-Indians, etc.) within the context of the “British world”
• Comparative diasporas within the “British world”
• “Plantation modernism” as a global phenomenon
• Publishing networks that bound together colonial territories with the British metropole

Interested parties should send a 300-word abstract and a brief CV to Matt Eatough ( by April 12, 2011.

Conference Location: Buffalo, USA
Conference Starts: October 06, 2011
Conference Ends: October 09, 2011

CFP Submission Deadline: April 12, 2011

For more information, contact: Matt Eatough

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