Vanguard U: Universities as Infrastructures of the Avant-garde

deadline for submissions: 
April 20, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Modernism/Modernity Print+

Modernism/modernity Print+ CFP – proposed Forum


Title: Vanguard U: Universities as Infrastructures of the Avant-Garde


Editors: Joyce Tsai (University of Iowa) and Jennifer Buckley (University of Iowa)


250-word abstracts due April 20

3000-word position papers due June 15


The term avant-garde often conjures images of cultural radicals bucking tradition, agitating against the stifling confines of the academy and other institutions, and dismantling established traditions and values. Yet the constitution of any avant-garde is premised upon either the invention or (more often) the seizure and transformation of infrastructures of circulation – publications, exhibition spaces, teaching institutions, etc. – to disseminate ideas, artworks, and activities. 


With the exception of avowedly experimental institutions like Black Mountain College, the New School for Social Research, and Cal Arts, American universities are not typically imagined as sites of vanguard activity, and few scholars have considered the ways avant-garde thought and practice rely upon, transform, and even nurture existing public institutions. This proposed Print+ Forum begins to account for the presence, practices, and legacies of avant-garde writers and artists in US universities, particularly in large land-grant schools that are far removed (one way or another) from established east- and west-coast urban centers of cultural production.


We invite 3000-word position papers that focus on research universities as incubators of avant-garde thought and practice, in the past, present, and future. How have universities, as both infrastructure and philosophical enterprise, advanced avant-garde ideas and practices in multiple, at times coordinated, domains -- for example,  in collecting, teaching, and practice? We intend for this Forum to contribute to ongoing interdisciplinary efforts to constitute a critical vanguard studies for the twenty-first century.

We are especially interested in contributions that explore the relationships among vanguard writers/artists of color and universities, including HBCUs. 

Other papers might address:

How aesthetic-political vanguards impacted state university student bodies, including programs of study, forms of affiliation and association, etc.


Departmental and cross- or extra-departmental initiatives that facilitate experimental arts practices


Of particular interest are university-based arts “workshops” or “laboratories” created to function as incubators for experimental practices.


How practitioners and researchers engage the expertise, equipment, and other resources at research universities to advance their projects

individual or associated avant-garde artists who taught at, were commissioned by, and/or formally visited universities.


How university-based performing arts presenters and venues have introduced local and regional audiences to experimental performance practices.


How university libraries and museums have collected, housed, conserved, and provided access to avant-garde art and literature


How universities have funded experimental arts practices


University-based initiatives that support scholarship on the avant-garde