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Call for Papers Archive

A CFP for MSA 15


One of the principles of Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project (1940) is that art never responds to “aesthetic exigencies alone.” Benjamin’s work typifies modernism’s interest in recording cultural history, particularly historical experience excluded from official historiographies. Anthologies, common readers, photographic reportage, and other kinds of compilation use assemblage as a means of production and require different modes of reading. Benjamin’s Arcades Project (1940) and Nancy Cunard’s Negro Anthology (1934) are two examples of documentary modernism. Heroic achievements in their own right, these modernist projects—characterized by their fragmented, contradictory, and suggestive form—share the documentary impulse towards a new historical comprehension. As anthological projects typically work by imposing a shape upon the collected cultural material and asserting curatorial control that material, they raise questions about representation and agency in documentary writing, and about modernism’s critical self-understanding and cultural motivation. We invite papers that explore the aesthetic and cultural thrust of documentary modernism, the modes of reading they invite, and the kinds of value they generate.

This interdisciplinary panel seeks to explore the sociological impulse of modernism and its concern with capturing the dynamics of social life in literature, film, photography, sociology, ethnography, urban writing, and philosophy. Papers investigating the modernists’ approaches to collecting, compiling, and recording cultural experience as part of their aesthetic programs are particularly welcome.

Please send a 250-word abstract and a short bio to Irina Rasmussen Goloubeva ( ) by March 10, 2013.

Conference Location: Brighton, UK
Conference Starts: August 29, 2013
Conference Ends: September 01, 2013

CFP Submission Deadline: March 10, 2013

For more information, contact: Dr. Irina Rasmussen Goloubeva