Modernism/modernity Print+ cluster: Modernist centenaries, anniversaries and commemorations

deadline for submissions: 
September 1, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Andrew Frayn, Edinburgh Napier University
contact email: 

Editor: Dr Andrew Frayn (a.frayn@napier.ac.uk | @afrayn)
Deadline for abstracts: 1 September 2020
Deadline for accepted submissions: 30 June 2021

There is no doubt that 2022 will be a year of anniversary fever in modernist studies, as the centenaries of high modernism’s annus mirabilis and its key works such as James Joyce’s Ulysses, T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, Virginia Woolf’s Jacob’s Room and many others are celebrated. This cluster invites abstracts for papers which discuss the relationship between modernist centenaries (and anniversaries more generally), commemoration, and modernist studies as a field. What can we learn from the experience of other fields which have been through recent major anniversaries, such as Romanticism and First World War Studies? What are the possibilities and problems which arise from the wave of centenary commemoration that we will face over the coming years? The relentless run of modernist anniversaries will inevitably shape scholarly work in the field. To take an arbitrary but indicative example, how prominent will the respective celebrations be of, say, Ulysses and May Sinclair’s Life and Death of Harriet Frean, and what will they consist of? How might discussions about canonical works be reshaped at centenary moments, and which narratives might be elided? What is at stake for modernist studies in the politics and practices of memorialisation?

            The fascination with anniversaries is nothing new, and commemoration is always an effort to assert historically contingent forms of national identity. The tercentenary of Shakespeare’s death was prominent in 1916, mobilising a particular idea of Englishness during the First World War; cultural production around the fiftieth anniversary of that conflict such as the Theatre Workshop’s Oh What a Lovely War (1963) and the BBC TV series The Great War (1964) was influential in reshaping its meaning in the public sphere. The Semana de Arte Moderna (Week of Modern Art) in Brazil in 1922 (10-17 February) connected its modernism with the centenary of independence from Portugal but was reacted against violently; the same week saw the publication of the final instalment of Lu Xun’s ‘The True Story of Ah Q’, a pivotal moment in modern Chinese literature in its use of the vernacular. 1922 is also, for example, the year of Egyptian independence. Does a focus on anniversaries necessarily tend towards the reinscription of accepted narratives? To what extent is it possible to use anniversaries recuperatively or transformatively?

Papers are also invited on topics such as, but not limited to: the forms of commemoration; the relationship between the interest in commemoration and nostalgia and current political shifts to the right; the instrumentalization of humanities study, notably manifested in the need to “market” ourselves via public engagement and ‘impact’ agendas; the corresponding need to “market” ourselves to establish a position within a chaotic, precarious labour market; the whiteness of commemoration; the relationship between remembering, commemoration, and endorsement.

Print Plus submissions are usually around 3000 words in length; the platform provides an ‘online academic environment for multimedia argument-based research [… and] provides scholars of modernity a place to publish article-length pieces with the interactive/visual media embedded in their text’.  The guidelines are at the top of this page: https://modernismmodernity.org/about. This will be a peer-reviewed cluster.

Abstracts of 250 words should be submitted to Andrew Frayn (a.frayn@napier.ac.uk) by 1 September 2020. Acceptance decisions will be communicated by 18 September 2020. Articles will be due 30 June 2021. The cluster should appear by, at the latest, January 2022.