update: seminar registration has been extended until August 7
1. Age and Generation
Cynthia Port and Suzanne Bailey
Attending to age enables new perspectives on a period often associated with youth and novelty. Seminar participants will investigate age, aging, or old age in visual arts, literature, film, performance, advertising, or social and political history. How might innovations in form or experiments with temporality be understood through the experience of aging? Are there alternatives to the modernisms of those who called themselves "les jeunes"?
2. Beyond the Autonomy/Relationality Binary
Elise Archias and Becky Bivens
This seminar compares the models of relationality that inhere within, on the one hand, emphasis on the unboundedness of “precarious…interdependence” (Butler),“non-sovereignty” (Berlant), and “participation,” and the interest by scholars of modernism in bounded specificity — in autonomy, the author (Widiss), and historically grounded subject positions (such as the escaped American slave) (Copeland). Invited Participants: Benjamin Widiss, English and Creative Writing, Hamilton College; Christa Robbins, Art History, California Institute of Technology.
3. Camp Modernism: The Seminar
Marsha Bryant and Doug Mao
Connections between modernism and camp range from the formal (modernism, like camp, goes over the top) to the cultural (both enjoy complex relations with the avant-garde) to the historical and biographical (see Sontag & the New York Intellectuals; see Oscar Wilde & everybody). Yet the camp-modernism nexus remains understudied. We invite contributions on any plausible, or fabulously implausible, convergence of modernism and camp. Pittsburgh is burning.
4. Coherent Fragments and the "Big Books" of Modernism
James Gifford and James M. Clawson
Serially published in response to material pressures, modernist “big books” – including chapter-by-chapter, poem-by-poem, volume-by-volume, piece-by-piece -- provoke readers to understand confluences from division. Such trends call for study of fragmentation as modernity's aesthetic manifestation as well as the vital commercial pressures running from Mudie’s Lending Library to the paperback pulp trilogy. Invited Participants: Stephen Ross, English, University of Victoria; Nicole Peeler, English, Seton Hill University.
5. Disciplinary Confluences: Modernist Studies and Media Studies
Jennifer Fay, Katherine Fusco, and Will Scheibel
The materialities, technologies, and artistic practices of modernity cultivated a “media ecology” for aesthetic and cultural innovations. This seminar will assess current relations between modernist studies and media studies: querying the meanings of modernism in each field, measuring historical and theoretical methods, and suggesting lines of inquiry in global contexts. Invited Participant: Justus Nieland, English, Michigan State University.
6. Dividing the Audience
Julia Jarcho and Martin Harries
Brecht espoused theater that “divides its audience,” opposing any “collective entity…created in the auditorium for the duration of the entertainment.” We hope to engage a range of arguments as to how and why various theatrical and non-theatrical works might assemble an audience in order to drive its members apart. Invited Participants: Rebecca Schneider, Theatre Arts and Performance Studies, Brown University; Nicholas Ridout, Theatre and Performance Studies, Queen Mary University of London.
7. Documentary, Networks, and Modernism
Justin Pfefferle and Michael McCluskey
The development of documentary coincided with new networks of information, transport, and communication. Writers, filmmakers, and photographers recorded these networks, celebrating and critiquing the subjectivities they fashioned. This seminar invites participants to consider relationships between modernism, documentary, and networks. How does documentary imagine the infrastructures through which citizens connect with each other and other nations? Does modernism provide documentary with ways of imagining itself as part (or outside) of the networks that it represents? Invited Participant: Dr. Ian Whittington, University of Mississippi.
8. Expendable Pieces: Ephemera and Modernism
This seminar will explore ephemera’s connection to the cultural fabric of the twentieth century. How does ephemera enrich our research? Raise questions about authorship and the archive? Alter our perception of value, temporality, and textuality? Papers theorizing or examining ephemera from any facet of culture—art, music, politics, theatre, civic organizations—in any language, genre, or medium are welcome.
9. The Feeling(s) of Modernism
Claire Barber and Meghan Marie Hammond
This seminar will explore the cognitive, affective, philosophical, psychological, and material convergences in modernist “feeling.” We will be guided by, but not limited to, the following questions: How do modernist texts, characters, or art objects feel different(ly) from those in other movements? How can we cultivate productive interdisciplinary work on modernist feeling? Invited Participants: Todd Cronan, Art History, Emory; Angus Fletcher, English, Ohio State.
10. Feminist and Queer Modernism
Pamela L. Caughie
Writers once championed by feminist scholars have recently been claimed by queer theorists. What does this contraction of feminism and queer mean for reading modernism, or for the fate of feminism? Do the histories, politics, or aesthetics of feminist and queer modernisms dovetail or diverge? How does “queer feminism” complicate this dynamic? Invited Participants: William Spurlin, English, Brunel University, London; Madelyn Detloff, English, Miami U Ohio.
11. Global Scale and Critical Form
Thomas S. Davis and Nathan Hensley
This seminar asks how we might coordinate macro-level models of the world-as-system with particularized attention to individual texts and art objects. How might we read closely under the sign of global modernism? What insights and problems emerge from plotting cultural activity within a politically and economically interdependent world system? Invited Participant: Aarthi Vadde, English and International Comparative Studies, Duke University.
12. Innovative Syntaxes
Matthew Hofer and Scarlett Higgins
This seminar will analyze and evaluate the significance of twentieth-century syntactic innovation construed very broadly, through experiments including but not limited to the avant-garde “imagination without strings,” the rise of collage forms across media, the persistence of procedural and processual work, and the continual renewals of conceptual making. Invited Participants: Michael Golston, Columbia University; Lynn Keller, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
13. Interdisciplinary Modernist Studies and the Cultural Event
Carrie Preston and Rishona Zimring
This seminar examines the challenges and rewards of working across the borders separating fields such as literary criticism, art history, performance studies, and the natural and social sciences. Does the lauded interdisciplinarity of modernist studies offer original insights or risk “dilettantism"? What are the best methodologies for truly interdisciplinary projects?Invited Participants: Christopher Reed, English and Visual Culture, Penn State; Liesl Olson, American History and Culture, Newberry Library.
14. Lives of the Obscure, 1900-1945
Woolf called for the “true history” of the shop girl rather than another life of Napoleon.What auto/biographical accounts of “obscure” lives appeared in the era of modernism? What occasioned them, what forms did they take? What paradigms of the self are reflected, what intersections with modernist fragmentation or instability?
15. Locating Geomodernisms in Place: Ten Years Later
Laura Winkiel and Laura Doyle
In the spirit of Geomodernisms, this seminar revisits place as a material ground of modernism, including its positioning of local sites or infrastructures (bazaars, ports, libraries, plantations, cafes) within wider/older geopolitical systems/sites/empires. We welcome analyses of diverse texts, languages, archives, and media that clarify geomodernisms’ aesthetic-political mediations as rendered through place.
Invited participants: Saikat Majumdar, English, Stanford University; Michael Rubenstein, English, SUNY Stony Brook.
16. The Long 1930s: Re-thinking Commitment
Benjamin Kohlmann and Glyn Salton-Cox
Opposing the tendency in modernist studies to sideline texts notable for their explicit political commitment, this seminar aims to reopen the problematic of the politics of twentieth-century writing. Extending our scope beyond the exemplary case of 1930s literature, we invite an array of historical and theoretical contributions, posing the following and related questions: what is the place of politicized writing in the modernist canon? How can we challenge dominant paradigms of the modernist politics of form? Can attention to politicized writing inspire alternative critical practices? Invited participants: Leo Mellor, University of Cambridge; Alex Woloch, Stanford University.
17. Modernism and Aesthetic Education
Robert S. Lehman
This seminar will examine modernism’s relationship to aesthetic education – to the notion that the human sensorium can be adjusted or entirely transformed and that works of art have a role to play in these transformations. Invited Participant: Audrey Wasser, University of Chicago.
18. Modernism and Cinema
Scott W. Klein and Michael Valdez Moses
The rise of cinema coincided with the emergence of modernism in the other arts and with a growing concern with the problem of modernity. Focusing on the period between 1890 and 1945, this seminar will explore relationships among cinema, modernism, and the problem of modernity. Papers concerned with major films and directors, with the formal innovations of cinema, and with the relationship between the cinema and modern life are especially welcome. Invited Participant: Laura Marcus, English, University of Oxford.
19. Modernism and Religion: New Theoretical Approaches
Gregory Erickson and Suzanne Hobson
This seminar will discuss how the understanding of modernism and religion has shifted in recent years and ponder the future of religion and religious studies within modernist studies. We will discuss new theoretical approaches which reflect the influences of theories of secularism, post-secularism, radical orthodoxy, feminist theology, and lived religion.
20. Modernism's Unfinished Business
Sarah Keller and Leah Flack
Modernism’s unfinished business” seeks papers that take up
modernism’s engagement with incompletion in both the production and reception of modernist art. Possible issues participants might address include: thematic, structural, and theoretical incompletion; the ways textual variations inflect readings of modernist works; and the status of abandoned projects in the oeuvres of modernist artists.
21. CANCELLED: Modernist Confluence: The Moving Image and the Avant-Garde
Jennifer Peterson and Jennifer Wild
This seminar charts an expanded view of cinema’s role in the history of modernism by unsettling the centrality of canonical figures, movements, and geographies. Areas of inquiry might include cinema and technology, migration, or the environment. Work on global avant-garde cinema is encouraged, as are new theoretical, archival, or interdisciplinary perspectives.
22. New Adornoes
This seminar situates Theodor Adorno in relation to the contours of
the "new modernist studies." "Reading Adorno against the grain," we will consider him both as a commentator on modernism, and as a modernist, concerned with the various cultural, epistemological, psychological, and aesthetic "confluences and divisions" that modernism entailed.
23. New Directions in Urban Modernism
Sunny Statler-Pace and Sarah E. Cornish
How do contemporary critical methodologies alter our readings of
urban modernism? Participants might draw on transnational and postcolonial theories, media studies, social sciences, digital humanities, or other relevant approaches. We welcome interdisciplinary discussions of cities not typically recognized as centers of modernism as well as papers that re-imagine the roles of modernist London, Paris, and New York. Invited Participant:
Stephen Brauer, English and American Studies, St. John Fisher College.
24. Performance, Performativity, and the Harlem Renaissance
Adam McKible and Mae G. Henderson
This seminar examines the Harlem Renaissance through performance, performativity, and theatricality, exploring practices encompassed by concepts that focus on body movement,
gesture, and action. We will consider black modernism in conjunction with the performing arts, music, photography, drama, and literature, as well as with notions of sexual and racial performativity. Invited Participants: Gene Melton, English, North Carolina State University; Jeanne Scheper, Gender and Sexuality Studies, University of California, Irvine.
25. The Politics of Modernist Abstraction
Deak Nabers, David Alworth, and Sarah Osment
The relationship between modernism and abstraction is so well-established as to have become something like an equivalency. Our goal will be to excavate the connections among various instances of abstraction in order to produce a more systematic account of its political function in modernist thought. We invite papers that address the relationship between abstraction in aesthetic realms and abstractions in realms legal, sociological, anthropological, economic, political, and beyond. Invited Participants: C.D. Blanton, English, UC Berkeley; Mark Thompson, English, Johns Hopkins University.
26. The Project of Digitizing the Texts of Modernist American Women Poets: Editing, Annotating, Re-evaluating, and the Pedagogy of Making it New
Demetres Tryphonopoulos and Sara Dunton
Many works by American women poets still await thorough annotation and intertextual study: what challenges face editors digitizing these texts? We invite commentaries on such projects’ value for modernist pedagogy, women’s writing, canon formation, and the editing journey itself. Papers on Stein, Moore, H.D., Loy, and /or others are welcome.
Invited Participant: Lara Vetter, University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
27. Representing the Second World War, Genocide, the Holocaust: Modernist Confluences and Divisions
Michael T. Williamson and Phyllis Lassner
This interdisciplinary Seminar will explore tensions among artistic responses to the cataclysms of World War II, including representations of perpetration, resistance, victimization, memory and silence. Suggested topics: racialist, antisemitic, homophobic
ideologies and expressions; battlefields, home fronts,
imprisonment, and genocides. Our goal is to consider how divergent cultural expressions of World War Two affect meanings
of Modernism. Invited Participant: Ravenel Richardson.
28. Rural Modernity
This seminar invites participants to move beyond analysis of rural representation in modernist works to a theoretical formulation of rural modernity as an interpretive category. What is to be gained for twentieth-century arts and culture studies by shifting our attention from the modernization of the city to modernization of the country, by theorizing rural modernity in relation to existing theories of modernism, middlebrow, and modernity?
Invited participant: Ysanne Holt, Art History, Northumbria University.
29. Sounds like Modernism: Confluence and Division in the Field of Modernist Sound Studies
“Sounds Like Modernism” seeks participants working in Modernist sound studies. The seminar will take advantage of the theme, “Confluence and Division,” to ask whether sound studies offers a cohesive framework of theories and methods. Papers need not address explicitly the question of confluences and divisions, but that question will be part of the conclusions we draw.
30. Textualities of Travel
This seminar seeks to ground the experience of travel within the textual forms that mediated tourism in the late-nineteenth and twentieth centuries: guide books, maps, journals, films, and photographs. How are the formal features and cultural attitudes of modernist novels, poems, and plays shaped by these types of texts?
31. Transnational Women Modernists: New Directions
Jane Garrity and Anne Fernald
Following Emily Apter, this seminar asks: how do we examine Anglophone women modernists in this transnational age without reinscribing a Eurocentric canon? How can we make a large-scale examination of female modernists without diluting literary analysis into an oversimplified commodity? What is "untranslatable" in the examination of women modernists? Invited Participant: Urmila Seshagiri.