Member Services

Rude Mechanicals: Modernist Poetry and Mechanical Technologies (MSA 17)

In this panel we will investigate the relationship of modernist poetry and mechanical technologies. Modernity can be characterized by revolutions in technology that bring about greater sophistication in its machines: the overlapping innovations in the technologies of industrial production, war, media, infrastructure, science and medicine, and more. The modern era arguably begins with the photograph and the telegraph and ends with digital photograph and the smartphone.

Modernist poets attended to these revolutionary innovations in various ways. Marianne Moore tells an interviewer that she is "€œpreoccupied...fundamentally and continuously"€ by them, emphasizing technology as subject matter. Yet mechanical technologies also inform how modernist poets describe their art, as when William Carlos Williams famously writes: "€œA poem is a small (or large) machine made out of words."€ Ezra Pound theorizes poetry as "€œmachine art"; Marshall McLuhan, corresponding with Pound, writes: "Also I'm interested in such analogies with modern poetry as that provided by the vacuum tube." And of course, such technologies shape how modern poetry circulates. New recording machines disseminate the poet'€™s voice and create new and different sensations of poetry'€™s immediacy. Material text production also becomes more immediate; the increasing use of typewriters and duplicating machines during the first half of the century culminates in the so-called "€œmimeograph revolution"€ production of 1960s and later, which builds upon and modifies modernism'€™s little magazine exchange networks.

We invite proposals on the engagement of modernist poetry with mechanical technologies, whether as subject matter, as poetic technique, or as it shaped the circulation and reception of texts. Please send a 300 word abstract and a brief biographical note by April 12 to Stephanie Anderson at sra3@uchicago.edu.


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

CFP Submission Deadline: April 12, 2015

For more information, contact: Stephanie Anderson

Back to Main Index