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Modernist Revivals and the Politics of Appropriation

This panel seeks to re-evaluate the practices of Modernist appropriation from its primitivisms of the African Interior and American South to its covetings of music-hall minstrelsy and troubadour song. Harlem holidays and mornings in Mexico, Celtic revivals and Smithsonian folkways, Modernist occultisms, ritualisms and ventriloquisms - such exercises in spatial and temporal tourism signal the familiar recourse of literary modernity to cultural forms perceived as anterior, antithetical or elsewhere for the means wherewith to renew itself. On both sides of the Atlantic, and in ways that we have long been able to critique, these antiquarian and anthropological detours return with interest on the metropolitan subject and the Modernist artwork.
The papers gathered here will re-examine the cultural work attempted in Modernist and mid-century projects of appropriation and revival, declining to side exclusively with either the consolations of aesthetic innovation or with the insights of ideological critique. Attentive rather to more compromised forms of commodified authenticity, awkward identification and impossible intimacy, we propose to explore the equivocal politics of Modernist affiliation. We ask how incorporative aesthetic strategies engineer new communities of feeling, new social imaginaries, howsoever utopian or nostalgic, emancipatory or exclusionary. How, for example, might modernist writers position vernacular forms and histories to both challenge and shore up the redemptive agency of the state and the normalizing discourses of national belonging? How might performances of racial masquerade encode forms of affective solidarity and fantasies of liberal universalism that complicate and exceed erotic investments in the racialized other? Might the cultural work undertaken in the name of the national popular and the labour metaphysic still afford progressive possibilities? Or do the failures of these and other projects of appropriative allegiance help us read the history of Modernism within, across and beyond the limits of the metropolitan nation state? We welcome submissions that engage a range of literary traditions and methodological approaches to these and related questions. Please send a paragraph-length abstract and a biographical note of a few sentences.

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

CFP Submission Deadline: April 14, 2011

For more information, contact: John Connor

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