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CFP for MSA 2019 Panel Proposal: 'Legacies' of Modernism
Conference Theme: “Upheaval and Reconstruction”
Event Location and Dates: Toronto, ON, CA. October 17-20, 2019

Recent critics have turned to literary modernism to explain certain formal characteristics of contemporary literature. Departing from definitional constraints that would date modernism to the early twentieth century or situate it in the metropoles of Europe, scholars have broadened the meaning of category, allowing for its application to geographically diverse texts written recently. Such a project compels us trace a lineage between Franz Kafka and J.M. Coetzee, E.M. Forster and Zadie Smith, or involves us in the identification of strategies of irony, defamiliarization and self-reflexivity in the work of Tayeb Salih, Kazuo Ishiguro, Christopher Okigbo and Michelle Cliff. Jahan Ramazani, for instance, argues that there is a convivial connection between the bricolage of modernist poetry and the hybridity of postcolonial poetics. Aarthi Vadde has proposed that modernist form allows for transnational identification, becoming a resource in the hands of postcolonialists, because “concern with the mechanics of form, medium and compositional methods [lead] authors… to think about nations as contingent constructions.”

But postcolonial literary studies has long acknowledged the relative importance of modernism as a resource for tropes and techniques (as when Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths and Hellen Tiffin’s seminal text initiated the “writing back” paradigm), but without conceding third-world literary archives entirely to modernism. Similarly, postmodernism in the contemporary novel was often described as a mode that superseded modernist tenets—ones which still avowed the possibility of objective understanding—by substituting more skeptical formulas in their place. This panel invites papers that explore the consequences of reframing the relationship between modern and contemporary in terms of “legacy,” “influence” and “connection,” rather than “opposition,” “refusal” or “upheaval.” What does the “continuity” model offer for the reading of contemporary literature or contemporary life? When “expanding” the meaning of modernism, do we implicitly seek to “arraogat[e] intellectual capital to those objects or conditions it (newly) designates” (David James, 2018)? If so, then what value system does our literary history encode?

Please send a 300-word paper proposal and a short biography to Jap-Nanak Makkar ( by March 5.

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

CFP Submission Deadline: March 05, 2019

For more information, contact: Jap-Nanak Makkar