New York City      â†“      October 26-29 2023

CFP for the Modernist Studies Association’s
2023 Annual Conference


Marriott Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn NY
October 26-29, 2023

New York City has long been a stage for what Marshall Berman called “modernism in the streets,” a modernism that encompasses not only the speed and scale of modernity at large, but also the energies of migrant communities and social movements that stake their claims at street level. MSA 2023 will consider the modernist street as a place where demands for new worlds have become legible in countless creative ways.

MSA 2023 will be held in downtown Brooklyn, at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, which inspired the painter Joseph Stella, photographer Walker Evans, and poets ranging from Hart Crane and Marianne Moore to Vladimir Mayakovsky and Federico García Lorca. Brooklyn's streets were trod by such diverse modernist luminaries as Richard Wright, W.H. Auden, Djuna Barnes, Lotte Lenya and Kurt Weil, Paul Robeson, and Mae West.

A separate city until 1898, Brooklyn’s relations with the other four New York City boroughs invite renewed reflection on questions of development–and neglect–at street level. In particular, Brooklyn, whose “ample hills” Walt Whitman extolled, has undergone a dramatic population shift in the new millennium. Though people of color still make up the majority of Brooklyn’s residents, gentrification has not only made parts of the borough financially out of reach for many; it has also turned a borough famous for its working class and ethnic neighborhoods into an international brand.

In addition to being understood as material, populated places where people meet and pass one another, "Streets" can be envisioned as sites of overlapping chronologies and temporalities, zones of resistance and control, and networks of information dispersal and consumption. The conference will foster discussion of modernisms that have sought to remake the streets and those that have arisen from them, and to bring the study of global modernism to bear on the streets of one of the most global of contemporary cities.

The 2023 conference will feature a keynote lecture event, a keynote roundtable presentation, and five streams of interrelated interdisciplinary panels. Each stream solicits proposals for individual papers and aims to draw speakers and audience members from constituencies historically underrepresented within MSA.

Call for Individual Paper Proposals for MSA Panel Streams

Individual paper proposals must speak directly to one of this year’s specially selected streams, which link several panels or roundtables that will take place on different days of the conference. Successful proposals will demonstrate the promise to advance new research or ideas relative to those topics. Members of the MSA Program Committee will vet these individual proposals and organize them into panels and roundtables as appropriate. Conference organizers may also solicit papers and groups of papers for streams.

[Check this page for the link to submit individual paper proposals for panel streams when submissions are open.] Please include an abstract of the paper that is no more than 300 words and a professional biography of no more than 100 words.

Stream Topics:

Call for Seminar Proposals

Seminars are among the unique features of the MSA conference. Participants write brief position papers (5-7 pages) that are circulated prior to the conference. Each seminar is limited to 15 participants. Seminars generate lively exchanges 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 draw many participants, 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 will find seminars listed along with panels and other events.

[Check this page for the link to submit seminar proposals for panel streams when submissions are open.] Please include a description of the seminar purpose and format that is no more than 300 words and a professional biography of each seminar leader that is no more than 100 words each.

Call for Workshop Proposals

Workshops focus on topics related to professional life, such as publishing, teaching, the job market, academic precarity, mid-career challenges and opportunities, and research and the liberal arts college. Popular workshops in previous years have been on topics such as “What Do Presses Want from a First Book?,” “Teaching Modernism,” and “Digital Approaches to Modernism,” and “Critical Writing.”

Participation in a workshop does not limit 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.

[Check this page for the link to submit workshop proposals for panel streams when submissions are open.] Include a description of the workshop purpose and format that is no more than 300 words and a professional bio of each leader that is no more than 100 words each.

Call for Panel Proposals

Successful panel proposals will 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 conference theme. Please be sure to characterize in your proposal what each paper contributes individually to the session as well as how they fit together into a cohesive session.

[Check this page for the link to submit panel proposals for panel streams when submissions are open.] Please include an abstract of no more than 500 words and a professional biography of each presenter that is no more than 100 words.

Call for Roundtable Proposals

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 small 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 of no more than 10 minutes in response to questions distributed in advance by the organizer, or to take turns responding to prompts from the chair.

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:

[Check this page for the link to submit roundtable proposals for panel streams when submissions are open.] Please include an abstract of no more than 500 words and a professional biography of each presenter that is no more than 100 words.

Call for Digital Exhibits and Posters

Reflecting the growing role of the digital humanities in modernist studies and the proliferation of innovative work that does not lend itself to presentation in the form of a scholarly paper, we invite proposals for digital exhibits and posters. Please address:

  1. The nature, design, and purpose of the project;

  2. How the project advances modernist studies; and

  3. How the presenters propose 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.

[Check this page for the link to submit digital exhibit and poster proposals for panel streams when submissions are open.] Include an abstract of no more than 500 words and a professional bio of each presenter that is no more than 100 words.

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. All speakers should bring a least two paper copies of their presentation for distribution to attendees who would benefit from a reading copy.

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

Statement on Inclusion

The Modernist Studies Association supports the rights and dignity of all persons associated with our organization and conference. We hold that inclusivity, diversity, access, and equality are critical to the strength of our organization and the effectiveness of our academic mission. In the spirit of maintaining a welcoming and inclusive organization, we urge our participants to use individuals' preferred names and pronouns when introducing speakers and in citing their work or ideas.

Land Acknowledgement

MSA Brooklyn 2023 acknowledges that it is located in ancestral Lenape homelands, and it recognizes the longstanding significance of these lands for Lenape nations past and present. We are also conscious that New York City has the largest urban Native population in the United States. We believe that historical awareness of Indigenous exclusion and erasure is critically important and are committed to working to overcome their effects in our own educational institutions.

Rules and Limits on Participation

So as to involve as many people as possible as active participants, the MSA limits multiple appearances on the program. You may participate once in each of the following categories:

Thus, you may lead a seminar, present a paper on a panel, share a digital exhibit, 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 presenting a paper or making substantive remarks in the session; the session chair must be someone who is otherwise not presenting.

Panel organizers are encouraged to identify a chair and include this information with their proposals; the MSA Program Committee can also ask another conference attendee to serve as a chair.

All those who attend the MSA conference must be members of the organization with dues paid for 2023-24 (MSA membership runs from July 1 until June 30 each year) and with any past dues paid in full. For information on MSA, please check the Association website.

Speakers are expected to present in person, rather than remotely.