Seminars for MSA Amsterdam
1. Film as Historiography and the Question of Modernist Interpretation
Organizers: Phyllis Lassner (Northwestern University), Alexis Pogerelskin (University of Minnesota, Duluth)
Invited Participants: Lisa Mullin, Sarah Cornish (University of North Colorado)
Hollywood films of the 1940s embedded a transnational cultural historiography of the decade. European filmmakers who emigrated to Britain and the United States to escape Nazi persecution developed German Expressionist anti-authoritarian messages into film noir. Other filmmakers embedded American and British history in films about World War II. This seminar will explore political and aesthetic relationships between Hollywood and British feature films of the 1940s and contemporary world cinema about World War II and later wars. Our aim is to explore how they shed critical light on each other and question the viability of applying a modernist interpretive framework to war films that are political or polemical by design or in effect.
2. Modernism and the Death of the Novel
Organizer: Michael Nowlin (University of Victoria)
A persistent yet dubious trope launched by modernist literary criticism (Eliot, Ortega y Gasset, Benjamin) is that the novel was dead, dying or in crisis. Why does it get periodically reasserted up to our own time? What are the stakes in its recurrence: for writers, critics, theorists, teachers, and common readers?
3. Diagnosing Modernism, Then and Now
Organizers: Lisa Mendelman (Menlo College), Victoria Papa (Northeastern U), Katherine Fusco (University of Nevada, Reno)
Invited Participants: Andrew Gaedtke (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) and Benjamin Kahan (Louisiana State University)
What was health—mental, physical, social—in modernity? Diagnoses proliferate—much as efforts to define and distinguish modernism persist. This seminar explores questions raised by modernist aesthetics, popularized scientific discourses, and evolving academic disciplines. Papers might address turns to neuroscience, sociology, surface reading, affect, and the diagnostics of social categories.
4. Iberian and Latin American modernismos, Planetarity, and the Challenges of Periodization
Organizers: Maria del Pilar Blanco (University of Oxford), Ignacio Infante (Washington University)
This seminar explores the role of various manifestations of modernismo in Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula within the planetary approach to modernist studies. What forms of planetarity function within modernismo, and how do they affect our conceptualization of Anglophone and global modernisms in terms of periodization and literary history?
5. Radio Modernism: Immediacy, Intermediality, Archive
Organizers: Debra Rae Cohen (University of South Carolina) and Ian Whittington (University of Mississippi)
Invited Participant: Damien Keane (University of Buffalo)
This seminar examines the effects and legacy of the “nowness” of radio as a medium in the modernist period. What were and are the social effects of the immediacy of radio? How does the idea of “nowness” relate to immediacy as transparency, the erasure of the medium itself? How were and are such forms of immediacy transmuted across media lines? What are the implications of immediacy for theories of the archive, and for current scholarly practice? Global iterations particularly welcome!
6. Confronting Fascism: Multi-Disciplinary Responses to WWII and Its Aftermath
Organizers: Abby Anderton (Baruch College, CUNY), Meghan Fox (LaGuardia Community College, CUNY)
In “Thoughts on Peace in an Air Raid,” Virginia Woolf famously asserted, “there is another wayof fighting for freedom without arms; we can fight with the mind.” For this seminar, we inviteparticipants working in various national contexts and disciplines (literature, drama, musicology,film, visual studies, art history, etc.) to submit papers that interrogate aesthetic responses toWWII and fascism, and their relevance in our contemporary political climate. We encourageparticipants to consider how form and genre are used to enact a social or political critique,and/or how art, literature, and music may construct alternative political realities.
7. Postwar Modernism
Organizer: Marius Hentea
This seminar aims to uncover the fate of modernism in the immediate postwar period (roughly 1944 to 1949). Possible topics include the politics of literature, changing views of authorship, the role of the nation-state, decolonization and postwar migration, and international organizations, as well as individual artists or writers recalibrating modernist forms in the postwar period.
8. Modernism’s Margins
Organizers: Alix Beeston (University of Sydney), Andrew Carruthers (University of Sydney)
Invited Participant: Lisi Schoenbach (University of Tennessee, Knoxville)
This seminar explores texts, genres, figures, and cultures that remain at the edge or outside the orbit of the many “new” modernisms. What logics of exclusion shape the margins of modernist studies? What difference does it make—methodologically, theoretically, politically, pedagogically—to consider modernist artifacts, makers, and contexts that are marginal, minor, off, or odd?
9. Modernist Parody, Past and Present
Organizers: Lauryl Tucker (Sewanee–University of the South), Bob Volpicelli (Randolph-Macon College)
Invited Participant: Leonard Diepeveen (Dalhousie U)
How does modernist parody construct its present in critical relation to a reimagined past? How have middlebrow, late-modernist, and contemporary parodies of modernism shaped our present understanding of the field? We welcome papers that discuss individual parodic texts or approach these questions with a broader theoretical frame.
10. Law and Literature: Modernism and the questioning of normativity within and beyond legal discourse
Organizers: Angela Condello (University of Roma Tre), Tiziano Toracca (University of Perugia/University of Ghent), Alberto Godioli (University of Groningen)
This seminar aims to investigate modernism in a Law and Humanities perspective, with particular regard to: Modernism and legal certainty (Manderson 2012); Normativity and individual experience; The ‘affective life of law’ (Reichman 2009); Guilt and responsibility; Modernism and current juridical discourse.
11. Inventing Modernist Audiences
Organizers: Rebecca Kastleman (Harvard University), Lawrence Switzky (University of Toronto)
This seminar explores the reception of modernist performance by critics and other audiences. Modernist performers invented some audiences and disrupted others, while a growing cohort of journalists, scholars, and polemicists responded to these social and artistic transformations. We welcome projects that discuss theater, dance, music, and other live art.
12. Women’s Work and Modernism
Organizers: Ann Mattis (University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan) and Amanda Gradisek (Walsh University)
This seminar will focus on aesthetic representations of feminized professions (domestic work, childcare, or prostitution) that have often been relegated to the margins of modernity. Participants might ask: does labor help female subjects stake a claim in modern selfhood or alienate them from modern forms of agency and association?
13. Anti-democratic Modernism
Organizer: Jonathan Ivry (University of Wisconsin-Whitewater)
How do modernist aesthetic forms—then and now—encode anti-democratic ideological moves? Twitter, for example, evokes Pound’s collage poetics, in which short utterances assert dominance rather than engage discursively with an implied equal. The seminar invites papers that investigate reactionary moves in modernism from a variety of angles.
14. Prizing Modernism Now
Organizers: Margaret Konkol (Old Dominion University), Sarah McGhie Terry (Oglethorpe University)
From the Dial Award to the Guggenheim, to the Bollingen Prize, this seminar explores the institutionalization of literary achievement by fellowship and prize-giving bodies which promoted modernist production. Participants are invited to explore the ways in which different awards and prizes may offer new perspectives on modernist networks, especially tracking their legacies for the contemporary moment or modernism now. Theoretical, historical, and pedagogical approaches are all welcome as are essays dealing with the politics of prizes and awards from the modernist to the contemporary.
15. Modernism(s) and the Global South
Organizer: Leigh Ann Duck (University of Mississippi)
How might mutual investigation of modernism and the Global South complicate understandings of each category’s chronologies and cartographies? Papers’ geographic foci and keywords will vary (commitment, form, language, network, circulation, institution, media, etc.), but each will explore paradigms for analyzing relations between aesthetic innovation and sites distanced from capitalist centers.
16. Modernist Reading, Modernist Feeling
Organizer: Dr. Angus Connell Brown (University of Birmingham)
Invited Participant: Dr. David James (Queen Mary University of London)
Over the past and present century, shifts in print and digital culture have changed the feeling of reading. Today as the majority of our reading moves off the page and onto the screen, the material and emotional workings of the book have never been more legible. This seminar will invite participants to explore the affective and material worlds of modernist reading and seek to initiate a dialogue between the disciplines of book history, digital humanities, media studies, literary studies, and affect theory.
17. Modernist Gardens?
Organizer: Vera Alexander (University of Groningen)
Gardens pose ongoing challenges for modernist creativities. This seminar invites participants to analyse the role of gardens in the lives and works of modernist artists, gardens as memory spaces and living boundaries, modernist visions and debates related to gardens, garden writing as a modernist genre, or ecological aspects of gardens.
18. Questions of the Present in Contemporary Poetics
Organizer: Barrett Watten (Wayne State University)
Invited Participants: Mia You, Samuel Vriezen
Since 2011, there has been an explosion of new writing in poetics as an academic discourse and a proliferation of new approaches to poetry that unite formal concerns (after Language writing, conceptualism, Flarf, and other avant-gardes) with radical accounts of the millennial present—in a manner reflecting on, but departing from, modernism. This seminar will perform several tasks: first, to survey recent writing in poetics that “question the present,” involving concerns of political economy, ideology and public discourse, documentary and digital sources, gender and sexuality, race and poets of color, hybrid forms, and multi-languaged writing/ translation. Then, it will undertake an overview of new forms of writing that engage these questions of the present. Finally, it will ask how poetry and poetics can create new critical and creative, activist and interventionist, initiatives, to counter deformed public discourse(s) of our presentist epoch. What does it mean to question poetics and poetry as a historicism of the present?
19. Modernist Historiographies
Organizers: Tyrus Miller (UCalifornia Santa Cruz), Angeliki Spiropoulou (UPeloponnese/IES-ULondon)
The seminar seeks to explore concepts of history and modes of historiography found in literary modernist and avant-garde texts. More specifically, it invites contributions which reflect on modernism and history, drawing on relevant work by philosophers, theorists and historians, and/or discuss the historiographical methods invented and applied by individual modernist/avant-garde writers. The seminar also aims at addressing the question of the extent to which modernist and avant-garde writers concur with or undermine dominant historiographical trends of their times.
20. The Future of Modernist Periodical Studies: Materiality, Media, Methodology
Organizer: Louise Kane (College of Coastal Georgia)
Invited Participants: Faye Hammill (University of Strathclyde) and Clifford Wulfman (Princeton University)
As periodical studies continues to evolve as a distinct discipline, this seminar assesses the variety of approaches through which periodicals have been explored—ranging from Digital Humanities projects to concepts of magazines as media, and other alternative, cross-disciplinary initiatives—with the purpose of generating and developing new potential methodologies for the future study of modernist magazines.
21. Transnational Surrealism: Then and Now
Organizer: Walter Kalaidjian (Emory University)
Invited Participants: Susan Aberth (Bard College) and Natalya Lusty (University of Sydney)
This seminar welcomes emerging approaches to surrealist aesthetics. New scholarship is invited on: classic little magazines such as Charles Henri Ford’s New York-based View circle; surrealism’s influence on Négritude, Suzanne Césaire, and Afrosurrealism; the feminist surrealism of Leonora Carrington, Remedios Varo, and Frida Kahlo, up through contemporary, transnational surrealist practices.
22. The Harlem Renaissance
Organizers: Adam McKible (John Jay College of Criminal Justice) and Rachel Farebrother (Swansea University)
This seminar examines how the transnational turn in Harlem Renaissance studies might be extended by exploring constructions of ‘Europe’ in African American expression, the figure of the African American in European thought and writing, and responses to colonialism and its legacies.