Peaceful Modernisms

deadline for submissions: 
January 15, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Prospective peer-reviewed cluster on the Modernism/modernity Print Plus platform
contact email: 


Prospective peer-reviewed cluster on the Modernism/modernity Print Plus platform 



Charles Andrews and J. Ashley Foster 

Contact: and 

Modernist studies has long been fascinated with war. The violent international conflicts during the twentieth century gave creative energy to much of the art and literature produced in this period, from the destructive jouissance of Blast to the combative editing of Eisenstein’s films to the war-themed epics of novelists such as Ford, Hemingway, Waugh, and Pasternak. Marinetti’s “Futurist Manifesto” offers a particularly spirited endorsement: “We want to glorify war - the only cure for the world - militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of the anarchists, the beautiful ideas which kill, and contempt for woman.” Spurred by such proclamations, scholars have assiduously traced the relationship between modernism and war. Many essential critical works—including, recently, Sarah Cole’s At the Violet Hour (2012), and Paul K. Saint-Amour’s Tense Future (2015)—have demonstrated that the forms we associate with modernism were shaped by force. However, they also make clear that many of these aesthetic reactions to war were constituted by a concern for peace. Our interests are both scholarly and polemical, seeking to uncover the valuable resources of peaceful modernisms and to argue for peace and nonviolence. 

This proposed forum for Modernism/modernity Print Plus turns scholarly attention toward the many ways in which modernist art and literature of the long twentieth century engages with peace. From Yosano Akiko’s famous anti-war poem “Brother, Do Not Give Your Life” (“Kimi shinitamô koto nakare) to Vaslav Nijinsky’s 1919 St. Moritz performance in defiance of the First World War, to Chinua Achebe’s “Civil Peace,” which offers a social critique in the wake of war, modernist art, literature, and theory enact rich but understudied practices of war resistance and peacemaking. As a case in point, Gandhi’s transnational impact, shaping the writing and activism of figures such as Rabindranath Tagore and Aldous Huxley, is more central to modernist aesthetics than is often recognized. This forum will put into conversation variegated and nuanced readings of pacifist thought in modernist form, exposing the complexity of art and literature’s engagement with peace work during a century of war. It also seeks to investigate how philosophies of peace and strategies of nonviolence circulated across borders and between modernist cultures. 

We especially seek proposals that use new methodologies drawn from interdisciplinary work in peace studies and literary/artistic analysis. Scholars such as Grace Brockington, R. S. White, and Jean Mills have shown how historically informed scholarship can also advocate for peace and develop resources for current antiwar and nonviolence practitioners. This Modernism/modernity forum desires to build upon such scholarship, understanding both pacifism and modernism “weakly,” approaching modernism as an aesthetic engagement with modernity that occurs throughout the world at different times, in order to expand the possibilities for integrating cultural analysis and peace research in the long twentieth century. 

Topics for articles might include: 

- Theorizing the relationship between modernist studies and peace studies 

- Modernist form and/as peace activism 

- Globally circulating pacifist ideas and their appearance in modernist art 

- Globally circulating modernist works and their pacifist messages 

- Producing modernist cultures of peace 

- “Communal modernisms” and peace 

- Modernists as peace theorists 

- Theorizing a modernist pacifist aesthetics 

- Intersections between modernist aesthetics and antiwar propaganda 

- Modernism and antiwar internationalism 

Article lengths should be 2500-3000 words. Please email abstracts of 300-500 words to Charles Andrews and J. Ashley Foster by January 15, 2018.