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Refuge, Upheaval, and Modernist Cultures of Welcoming

As a flexible model of welcoming, hospitality—that process of inviting one into a shared space or sharing in the space of another—found purchase throughout modern culture, and much of modernist literature returns repeatedly to its everyday matters, structures, and locales. From French sitting-rooms and English coffee houses to Irish céilí and Calcuttan adda, both the formal locations and informal gatherings of modernist hospitality provided spaces of refuge for experimental ideas and non-normative identities, especially those marginalized by the homogenizing processes of modernity. That the practical realities of welcoming almost always failed to live up to their ethical ideal, however, was a lesson many modernists either encountered firsthand or themselves introduced through exclusionary practices and prohibitive social rules. Hospitality, after all, sometimes masks or exposes a subject’s anxieties about certain power relations—the pressure to perform as a perfect host or hostess, for example, often upends hospitality, engendering its obverse, inhospitality, and thus lending hospitality the quality of an unattainable, impossible ideal. For many modernist writers and modern citizens, the places of everyday hospitality became inhospitable scenes of social or cultural upheaval as often as hospitable locations of refuge.

However, this panel hopes to highlight modernism’s more diverse and fruitful cultures of welcoming, wherever they might be found. Because despite their failures, many modernist authors endeavored to make, unmake, and remake sites of upheaval and inhospitality through productive Other-centered logics, often doing so at scale, from quotidian hospitable performances, to practical salons and transient cityscapes, to ostensibly idealistic markers of nationhood and empire. Many of those efforts certainly smuggled in normative or imperialist notions under the guise of community-building, but this panel seeks paper proposals that consider those successful cases less attended to, that reflect modernists’ varied and generative ways of making modern contact new and newly meaningful, of offering access to a modern everyday that dominant social realities otherwise rejected to marginalized ways-of-being.

To those interested, please send brief abstracts and bios to Sean Weidman (sgweidman@psu.edu) and Daniel Hengel (danielhengel@gmail.com) by March 7th.

Conference Location: Toronto, Canada
Conference Starts: October 17, 2019
Conference Ends: October 20, 2019

CFP Submission Deadline: March 07, 2019

For more information, contact: Sean Weidman

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