CFP for the Modernist Studies Association’s Annual Conference

“Graphic Modernisms”

Columbus, OH, November 8-11, 2018

Host: Ohio State University

“Graphic Modernisms” encompasses many of the central innovations of the modernist period. One of modernism’s most enduring legacies is its challenge to what counts as permissible in artistic representation. The most well-known and canonical examples range from Wilfred Owen’s depictions of war-ravaged bodies to the frank portrayals of sexuality in the fiction of D.H. Lawrence, James Joyce, Jean Rhys, Henry Miller, and Anais Nin. In these works, we might say that graphic modernism refers both to thematics and formal structures. Yet, in other works, “graphic” retains the word’s etymological combination of writing and drawing. Experimentation with text and image underwrites Surrealist texts like André Breton’s Nadja, silent cinema’s use of intertitles, propaganda and poster art, and that distinctly modern invention, the comic, the largest collection of which is housed in Columbus’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library. And, finally, the “graphic” encompasses new methodologies from the digital humanities that have given us alternate ways to map and graph modernist cultural activity from across the globe. We encourage proposals on any of the above definitions of “Graphic Modernisms,” as well as any other ways in which the “graphic” might be conceptualized. In order to encourage interdisciplinary and intercultural approaches and to draw upon the special opportunities presented by this year’s Columbus location, the organizers will be considering panels run under two special streams: “Visual Cultures,” which will focus on extraliterary topics such as visual art, film, photography, comics and cartoons, fashion, architecture, and design; and “Energy and Ecology” which will take up the multiple relationships between modernist cultural production and planetary crisis. If you are interested in proposing a panel linked to either of these streams, please make this clear in your proposal.

The conference organizers for “Graphic Modernisms” invite proposals for seminars and pre-conference workshops (due February 8), panels and roundtables (due April 23), and poster sessions and multimedia/digital exhibitions (due May 15). We encourage proposals relevant to the conference theme but welcome panel, seminar, and roundtable proposals on all topics related to modernism. The primary criterion for selection will be the quality of the proposal, not its relevance to the conference theme. We ask that proposals provide complete panels and roundtables. Individuals seeking to create or to participate in a panel or roundtable are encouraged to visit the MSA CFP page or the MSA Facebook page for guidelines to develop and opportunities to promote a panel or roundtable. All proposals must include requests for AV provisions and disability accommodations.

The MSA values diversity of national origin, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, migration status, ability, class, employment status, and other forms of identity. We encourage conference participants and organizers to take this into account when making proposals for MSA 2018 conference.

All queries should be directed to


Because we wish to involve as many people as possible as active participants, the MSA limits multiple appearances on the program. Thus, you may participate once, but only once, in each of the following categories:

You may lead a seminar, present a paper on a panel, and participate in a “What Are You Reading” session, but you may not present two papers. MSA rules do not allow panel or roundtable organizers to chair their own session if they are also speaking in the session. The session chair must be someone who is otherwise not participating in the session. Panel organizers are encouraged to identify a moderator and include this information with their proposals; the MSA Program Committee can also ask another conference attendee to serve as a moderator. Participation in a pre-conference workshop or in a digital exhibition does not constrain other forms of participation.

All those who attend the MSA conference must be members of the organization with dues paid for 2017-2018 (MSA membership runs from July 1 until June 30 each year.) For information on MSA, please check the website. Participants are expected to present in person.


Deadline: February 23, 2018

Seminars are among the unique features of the MSA conference. Participants write brief position papers (5-7 pages) that are circulated and read prior to the conference. Each seminar is limited to 15 participants. Seminars generate lively exchange and often facilitate future collaborations. The format also allows a larger number of conference attendees to seek financial support from their institutions as they educate themselves and their colleagues on subjects of mutual interest. Seminars are two hours in length. Because seminars led solely by graduate students are not likely to be accepted, we encourage interested graduate students to invite a faculty member to lead the seminar with them. Please note that this is the call for seminar leaders. Sign-up for seminar participants will take place on a first-come, first-served basis coinciding with registration for the conference.

Seminar Topics: There are no limits on topics, but past experience has shown that the more clearly defined the topic and the more guidance provided by the leader, the more productive the discussion. “Clearly defined” should not be confused with “narrow,” as extremely narrow seminar topics tend to exclude many potential participants. To scan past seminar topics, go to the Conference Archives on the MSA website, click the link to a prior conference, and then click on “Conference Schedule” or “Conference Program.” You’ll find seminars listed along with panels and other events.

Submit proposals by February 23, 2018 by clicking here.


Deadline: April 23, 2018

Successful proposals will introduce topics that promise to expand research and debate on a topic, and will present a clear rationale for the papers’ collective goal. Panel proposals that engage recent contentious research, exciting new approaches, or theoretical interventions into the field are encouraged. Topics are not limited to the theme conference theme.

We encourage interdisciplinary panels and strongly discourage panels on single authors. In order to allow for discussion, preference will be given to panels with three participants, though panels of four will be considered. Panels composed entirely of participants from a single department at a single institution are not likely to be accepted. Graduate students are welcome as panelists, but panels composed entirely of graduate students are less likely to be accepted than panels that include postdoctoral presenters together with graduate students.

Submit proposals by April 23, 2018 by clicking here.


Deadline: April 23, 2018

All topics will be considered for roundtables. Unlike panels, which generally feature a sequence of 15-20 minute talks followed by discussion, roundtables gather a group of participants around a shared concern in order to generate discussion among the participants and with the audience. To this end, instead of delivering full-length papers, participants are asked to deliver short position statements in response to questions distributed in advance by the organizer or to take turns responding to prompts from the moderator. The bulk of the session should be devoted to discussion. No paper titles are listed in the program, only the names of participants. Please bear in mind these guidelines:

Roundtables may feature as many as 6 speakers. We particularly welcome roundtables that include participants from multiple disciplines, and we discourage roundtables on single authors. Roundtables composed entirely of participants from a single department at a single institution are not likely to be accepted. Graduate students are welcome as speakers, but roundtables composed entirely of graduate students are less likely to be accepted than those that include postdoctoral presenters together with graduate students.

Submit proposals by April 23, 2018 by clicking here.


Deadline: May 15, 2018

Reflecting the growing role of the digital humanities in modernist studies and the proliferation of work that does not lend itself to presentation in the form of a scholarly paper, we invite proposals that provide a short overview (including web links) of 1) the nature, design, and purpose of a digital project; 2) how the project advances modernist studies; and 3) how the presenters would want to exhibit and explain the project at the conference. Be sure to list all participants and institutions involved in the project, and specify who among these would attend the conference.

Submit proposals by May 15, 2018 by clicking here.


Deadline: May 15, 2018

Pre-conference workshops are held on the Thursday that the conference begins. They focus on topics related to professional life, such as publishing, teaching, the job market, mid-career challenges and opportunities, research and the liberal arts college, and alternative/non-academic jobs. Popular workshops in previous years have been on topics including, “What Do Presses Want from a First Book?,” “Digital Approaches to Modernism,” and “Critical Writing.” Participation in a pre-conference workshop does not constrain participation in other aspects of the conference.

Workshops should be participatory in format and can be either 90 or 120 minutes in length. They may be entirely led by one person or may include a panel of experts. Please note that this call is for workshop leaders and that you should be prepared to arrive at the conference venue by Wednesday evening. Registration for workshops will occur at the same time as conference registration.

Submit proposals by May 15, 2018 by clicking here.

Conference Access

The MSA is committed to ensuring that all conference registrants will be able to participate in conference events.

We ask that all conference attendees give thought to questions of access and work with the conference organizers to create an event that is welcoming to the entire community of participants.

If you would benefit from individual accommodations including, but not limited to, ASL translation, paper copies of session presentations, or large type documents, please contact the conference organizers.