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How Red Is Modernism?

Conference: MSA 2019, Toronto (October 17 – 20)
Panel Title: How Red Is Modernism?
Organizers: Matthew Gannon and Tavid Mulder

The perennial issue of the politics of modernism is in season once again. We might now finally be in a position to leave behind the intransigent Cold War opposition of political realism and apolitical modernism, opening the possibility of reevaluating modernist politics. Mark Steven's recent book Red Modernism, for instance, makes concrete historical connections between leftist social and political events and the practices and theories of literary modernism. Rather than avoid confronting modernism's right wing—and even fascist—commitments, Red Modernism actively engages and subverts modernism's reactionary tendencies with the aim, as Steven puts it, "to plant a gigantic red flag atop modernism’s literary monuments."

Contemporary interpretations of T. S. Eliot are emblematic of this emergent tendency to reframe the politics of modernism. Recent critics—including Robert S. Lehman and Jewel Spears Brooker—have convincingly argued that Eliot, despite his royalism and avowed conservatism, was a subtle dialectical thinker attuned to history, and C. D. Blanton has gone so far as to identify what he calls an "Eliotic Marxism." These critics, in effect, uncover an affinity between the formal commitments of modernism and critical theory's attention to the aesthetic as a privileged conceptual medium for disclosing the contradictions of capitalism.

We invite papers that take up anew the old debate of modernism's politics, or else respond to or intervene in the critical perspectives of today's theorists of modernism's politics. Papers might also ask how these politics assume different forms outside the metropolis. Panelists may also consider how modernist politics acquire different valences before or after the interwar moment. Modernism, politics, and aesthetics may be broadly conceived in this panel.

Topics considered might be:
- Autonomy
- Commodification and fetishization
- The politics of time and temporality
- The ideology of the aesthetic and the ideology of modernism
- Historical connections between modernists and their political movements
- The politics of peripheral modernism
- Realism vs. modernism
- Proletarian modernism

Please submit a 250-300 word abstract and a brief bio to Matthew Gannon (matthew.gannon@bc.edu) and Tavid Mulder (tavid_mulder@brown.edu) by March 4, 2019.


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

CFP Submission Deadline: March 04, 2019

For more information, contact: Matthew Gannon

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