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Modernism and Institutional Authority (MSA 17, 2015)

This panel seeks to explore modernism's relationship with traditional institutions and institutional authority. Sartre's rejection of the Nobel Prize; the creation of the Salon des Refusés in response to Académie des Beaux-Arts's Paris Salon; Forster, Shaw and Huxley's rejection of British knighthood; Yeats's creation of the Abbey Theatre: modernism initiated some of the most iconic rebellions against institutional power within the last two centuries. Equally plentiful are examples of modernists' apparent deference to institutional authority: Pinter, Bellow, Márquez and Morrison's acceptance of the Nobel Prize; e. e. cumming's lectures as guest professor at Harvard; Ted Hughes's acceptance of the position of Poet Laureate following Heaney's rejection of it. The inclusion of modernists within the institution often caused more shock waves than their direct rebellion, however: Heidegger's resignation as rector of the University of Freiburg because of his membership of the Nazi Party, for example, or the fight to gain institutional recognition for the graphic novel.

What is the value of the modernist refusal to join traditional institutions? What drove other modernists to seek or accept inclusion in these institutions? Can we trace an 'inner-institutional' rebellion, a reworking of the traditional institution from the inside? In what other ways did modernism pioneer a challenge to or reworking of – or, indeed, an acceptance of – institutional authority? More broadly, how do we understand the shift from traditional forms of patronage through court or private sponsorship to larger institutional bodies?

This panel welcomes papers on literature, literary theory, philosophy, film studies and the visual and performing arts, on any topic connected with modernism's challenge, deference or reworking of institutional authority. Please send abstracts of 300-400 words and a brief academic biography (2-3 sentences) to Hannah Simpson at simpsonh@bu.edu by April 10, 2015.

Conference Location: Boston, USA
Conference Starts: November 19, 2015
Conference Ends: November 22, 2015

CFP Submission Deadline: April 10, 2015

For more information, contact: Hannah Simpson

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