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Vanguard U: State Universities and the Avant-gardes

Where do we locate the avant-garde, historically, geographically, and ideologically? Critics have offered competing answers to this question over the past eight decades. The avant-garde has been variously described as anti-art and as aesthetically generative; as modernist, anti-modernist, and anti-modern; as anti-institutional and as a bourgeois formation; as ??historical,? ??neo,? dead, or irrelevant; as inherently European or American, and as a fundamentally transnational phenomenon; as nihilist and as utopian; as progressive and as reactionary.

Wherever and whenever scholars have positioned the avant-garde, they have not, generally speaking, located it in universities. Avowedly experimental small schools like Black Mountain, the New School, and Cal Arts have long been recognized as avant-garde outposts on the margins of academia. This session, however, aims to account for the presence, practices, and legacies of avant-garde writers and artists in US universities, and particularly in large land-grant schools geographically far removed from the east- and west-coast urban centers. In particular, we seek to generate knowledge of the relationships between state-funded research institutions and artists (faculty, students, or visitors) engaging in experimental practices that push or cross disciplinary and/or national boundaries. We intend for this discussion to constitute a significant contribution to ongoing interdisciplinary efforts to redefine the avant-garde for the twenty-first century.

Please send a 300-word abstract with short bio to Jennifer Buckley ( and Joyce Tsai ( by Feb 15, 2018.

Conference Location: Columbus, USA
Conference Starts: November 08, 2018
Conference Ends: November 11, 2018

CFP Submission Deadline: February 15, 2018

For more information, contact: Jennifer Buckley