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Transnational Modernist Epiphanies (MSA 19, Amsterdam)

Transnational Modernist Epiphanies

The epiphany has long been considered one of modernist literature’s defining characteristics, a sudden, radiant manifestation, as Joyce put it, of “the truth of the being of the visible world.” In the fiction of those like Joyce, Mansfield, Woolf, Proust, and Conrad, these sudden perceptions or (apparent) moments of insight generally emerge from the midst of the everyday and create the sense, or illusion, that something decisive and transformative has occurred. While, in recent decades, the term has been treated with critical suspicion—and its use, by modernist writers, was often ambivalent and ironic—it nevertheless seems fair to say that the epiphany, in various guises, is integral to some of the most distinctive moments in Anglo-European modernism.

In light of modernist studies’ transnational or planetary turn, this panel proposes to track the circulation, translation, and indigenization—or independent, local emergences—of the epiphany in modernist and postcolonial works of the Global South and other “peripheral” national and linguistic traditions. In particular, we are interested in ways that the epiphany might offer a generative nodal point or “literary arc” for mapping the cross-cultural flows of global modernism, while more productively exploring the intersections of modernist studies and postcolonial studies.

Questions that might be addressed include: In what ways has the Euro-American modernist epiphany been reinvented, ironized, and/or undermined? What is the danger and/or value of treating the epiphany as an intrinsically modernist technique? How do specific uses of epiphany constitute a critical dialogue with canonical works of Western modernism? How have writers used the epiphany to critically recast the everyday of colonial modernity and imagine and articulate a postcolonial vision? How has the epiphany, often associated with notions of aesthetic autonomy, been turned to political ends? How have translators dealt with rendering the modernist epiphany in their target language? What critical relevance and/or aesthetic force does the epiphany (still) have?

Please send abstracts of 150-200 words and a brief bio to kswalsh@yonsei.ac.kr by January 28, 2017.


Conference Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Conference Starts: August 10, 2017
Conference Ends: August 13, 2017

CFP Submission Deadline: January 28, 2017

For more information, contact: Kelly S. Walsh

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