The Afterlives of Modernism: modernist continuities in contemporary English-language fiction

deadline for submissions: 
November 30, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Hungarian Journal of English and American Studies
contact email: 

The Afterlives of Modernism: modernist continuities in contemporary English-language fiction


HJEAS (Hungarian Journal of English and American Studies) seeks essay submissions for a thematic section of its Fall 2018 issue on ‟The Afterlives of modernism: modernist continuities in contemporary English-language fiction.” HJEAS is a peer-reviewed journal of the Institute of English and American Studies, University of Debrecen, Hungary, publishing critical articles and book reviews in the fields of American, British, Canadian, and Irish literature, history, and culture, and is available from JSTOR and ProQuest. (


Ever since the 1990s, “modernism(s)” has exponentially increased its “visitability” as an academic discipline, largely defined by – and against – a receding, still fuzzy concept of “postmodernism,” itself academically produced. Both a “begetter” of postmodernism and its “progeny,” as Steven Connor recently stated (in Sherry, ed., The Cambridge History of Modernism, 2016), modernism re-affirmed itself during the debates of the 1980s-90s around the definition of postmodernism, to proliferate into “modernisms” as variegated as postmodernism has once been. Yet, Connor warns, “one of the many things that modernism can be is, simply, not over; the way to be new for modernism is for it unexpectedly to have stayed news.” Perhaps the most poignant of these multiple conceptualizations is that of Gabriel Josipovici for whom Modernism is not a time-bound artistic current, but a (discontinuous and ahistorical) tradition “of those who have no tradition” (What Ever Happened to Modernism?, 2010), of those whose artistic ventures are a predicament or, to speak with Beckett, “in the clutch of,” rather than “in search of difficulty” (“Three Dialogues with Georges Duthuit,” 1949).

Beyond the mainstream debates on the relation between modernism(s) and the many “posts” of today’s discourse, there may be a contemporary modernism, identifiable in the persistence of cultural and experiential positions ranging  from the critical and the anarchic to the aestheticised view on the self as ceaseless negotiation with other subjects and objects. Ian McEwan, Will Self, George Saunders, Ali Smith, Eimear McBride are just a few casually picked examples of novelists who re-employ experimental forms associated with High Modernism in exploring the interface between the self and its language on the one hand, and the world of objects and things on the other hand. Probing the resistance of both language and the world to our modes of knowledge, recent novels engage in a reevaluation of realism, modernism and postmodernism alike, rooted in the early twentieth-century’s self-reflexivity and interrogation of the boundaries between the “real” and the “made,” and aimed at meeting the challenges of scientific thought and technological advances to the traditional status of the printed book. Caught between the investigation of a haunting, traumatic past and the anticipation of unforeseeable, more often than not catastrophic futures, contemporary fiction inevitably restages and revises modernist reactions to the new, this time in the shape of a further derealisation of the world under the pressure of the digital, whose paradoxical combination of the predetermined and the arbitrary had been long anticipated by modernist experimental writing.

Papers may refer to but are not limited to the following topics:

-         re-evaluations, revisiting of the narrative strategies and compositional designs of realism, modernism, or postmodernism with their epistemological positions

-         the free indirect discourse and the stream of consciousness as devices of contemporary writing

-         contemporary fictional experiments with time and its perception

-         reconstructing individual consciousness in the light of discoveries in biology and the digital revolution

-         creative engagement with the advances of contemporary technology and its impact on print culture, on the human body, or on the ecosystem

-         planetarism and the reevaluation of modernist internationalism

-         contemporary probing of the opacity and resistance of language, engaging with the modernist tradition of language skepticism

-         continuities of modernist/post-modernist self-referentiality in contemporary fiction


Completed manuscripts of 5000-10,000 words must follow the MLA parenthetical citation with Works Cited. Please follow the HJEAS Style Sheet available at

Proposals of 500 words with a 100-150 bio are due by November 30, 2017; Final papers are due by March 15, 2018. Please send the submissions and all inquiries to the editors, Petronia Petrar ( and Erika Mihálycsa (