Emerging Subjects: Transnational Modernism and the Urban Imaginary

deadline for submissions: 
September 22, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
American Comparative Literature Association
contact email: 

The American Comparative Literature Association's 2020 Annual Meeting will take place at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Chicago, March 19th-22nd, 2020.

Proposed Panel

Organizer: Desmond Harding

Co-Organizer: Nicole Sparling Barco


Emerging Subjects: Transnational Modernism and the Urban Imaginary

In recent years the geographical, temporal, and cultural lineage of canonical modernism as the assumed outgrowth of Anglo-American and European traditions has given way to new approaches for understanding the articulations and experiences of modernism and modernity—alternative modernities, multiple modernities, new world modernisms, geomodernisms, transnational modernisms. To these scholarly interventions one could add the multifaceted concept of “planetarity,” a paradigm that, as Amy J. Elias and Christian Morau argue in The Planetary Turn, provides “a multi-centric and pluralizing, ‘actually existing’ worldly structure of relatedness critically keyed to non-totalist, non-homogenizing, and anti-hegemonic operations  .  .  .” Reassessing the temporalities, spatialities and formal components of modernism and modernity has generated a good deal of discussion, much of it in the form of exciting new comparative work that privileges the geographical and linguistic pluralizing of modernism, but much as well in the form of circumspect theorizing and anxious questioning.

This panel responds to the “spatial” turn in modernist studies and builds on recent work in colonial modernisms, geo-political modernisms, planetarity, globalization studies, and peripheral modernisms. In particular, we invite submissions that explore the ways in which representations of the urban imaginary articulate anew the various interrelations, affiliations, and antitheses of modernity, modernism, and the modern. The modernist city is a particularly generative site for thinking about comparative notions of “planetarity” because it allows us to reconceptualize and recover the processes of transnational theoretical and material cultural exchange across national, racial, and political boundaries. The inter-play and hybridization of competing literary, theoretical, and intellectual paradigms across seemingly disparate cultural formations is central to an expanded conception of transnational modernism; moreover, the vocabulary of mobility, transformation, and exchange provided by the overlapping and shifting boundaries of region, of nation, and of location illuminate the productive possibilities of altering and manipulating categories of subject identities.

250-word proposals should submitted through the ACLA portal by September 23.


Questions may be directed to Desmond Harding (hardi1d@cmich.edu) and Nicole Sparling Barco (sparl1nl@cmich.edu).