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Revolutionary Little Magazines (MSA 17)

MSA 17 Modernism & Revolution
Panel: Revolutionary Little Magazines

In keeping with the conference theme of Modernism & Revolution, this panel seeks to explore modernism's little magazines as sites of provocation and revolt. The magazine communities were hotbeds of controversial figures and politics, and their publications challenged national programs and social mores via radical ideologies and aesthetics. Of particular interest to this panel is the interplay between their innovative experimental aesthetics and their cultural, social, and political interests that included socialism, anarchy, feminism, women's suffrage, sex, race, nationalism, militarization and labor. Panel papers might focus on The Crisis, The Dial, The Freewoman, The Little Review, The Messenger, The Others, The Liberator, to name a few. With their challenging forms and content, these magazines were immediately responsive to, and in dialogue with, the movements and zeitgeists of their time and place, actively shaping and creating revolutionary conversations.

Typical of the provocative character of the little magazines, the Little Review editors, Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap, who always invited controversy, advertised their transcultural magazine as one of Art and Revolution: “there is no revolution unless it is born of the same spirit which produces real art." Endlessly and intentionally aggravating the American public, this magazine, spearheaded by two queer women, often had issues burned by the U.S. Post Office; when taken to court on obscenity charges for publishing a sexually explicit section of Ulysses, their issue that blasted censorship of art featured the poetry and photographs of transgressive female avant-gardists. Always entangled with the law, The Masses was described as the most dangerous magazine in America: it housed modernist writing and promoted radical positions on unionization, racial equality, birth control, and free love. The Crisis was overseen by W.E.B. Du Bois and editor Jessie Fauset and was associated with the newly formed NAACP; a seminal periodical on race and social injustice in America, it showcased African-American arts alongside graphic journalistic accounts of discrimination and lynchings.

This panel is interested in papers on the relationship of form and content in particular little magazines; on aesthetic and political agendas; on what kinds of lines were crossed in a particular magazine and issue; on the politics of the crossing of (genre, national, social, cultural, gender, race) lines; on the implications of mixing and congregating disparate genres, forms, figures, languages, voices, images as a revolutionary formal response and means to confront, unsettle, challenge and instigate.

Please send an approximately 400 word abstract and short bio or CV to Adrienne Walser at awalser@bard.edu by Wednesday, April 15th, 2015.


Conference Location: Boston, United States of America
Conference Starts: November 19, 2015
Conference Ends: November 22, 2015

CFP Submission Deadline: April 15, 2015

For more information, contact: Adrienne Walser

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