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Conceptual Writing and Modernist Avant-Gardes

Analyses of the relationship between modernism and contemporary literature abound (see Majorie Perloff, Rebecca Walkowitz, David James, and Jessica Pressman) with well-known writers like Ben Marcus, Will Self, and Tom McCarthy affiliating with the experiments of Joyce, Stein, and Gaddis, among others. Conceptual writers and artists, in particular, have been quick to construct a genealogy of experimentation rooted in modernist avant-gardism, leading from Gertrude Stein to Kenneth Goldsmith, by way of Marcel Duchamp, Samuel Beckett, Guy Debord, and John Cage. What aesthetic confluences or divisions arise when considering the practices of conceptual writing alongside the practices of the modernist avant-garde?

This panel will examine the confluences and divergences between conceptual writing and modernist avant-garde projects. Papers might consider the following questions:

What has the figure of modernism come to mean for conceptual writers and artists? How is modernism being recognized, revised, or reimagined? What is lost, or, repressed in conceptual writing’s modernist genealogies? How do the strategies of conceptual writing revive or rewrite oft-told stories of modernist aesthetics, such as flatness, presentness, self-reflexivity, autonomy, or “thingness”? To what extent does conceptual writing’s interest in new media forms recall or reinvent the old media environments shaping modernist forms?

Interdisciplinary and theoretical papers are especially welcome. Please send 250-word abstracts and a brief biography by April 15 to Laura B. McGrath at mcgrat85@msu.edu.

Conference Location: Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Conference Starts: November 06, 2014
Conference Ends: November 09, 2014

CFP Submission Deadline: April 15, 2014

For more information, contact: Laura B. McGrath

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