UPDATE: [20th] Women Producers and the Politics of the Aesthetic in the Interwar Period

full name / name of organization: 
Laurel Harris

Call for Papers
“Women Producers and the Politics of the Aesthetic in the Interwar Period”
40th Anniversary Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
February 26-March 1, 2009
Hyatt Regency, Boston, MA

This panel will ask how the aesthetics of women producersâ€"including
novelists, short story writers, filmmakers, journalists, and poetsâ€"in the
1920s and 1930s might be conceived as political activism or social vision.
How might gendered discourses of this interwar period of modernity
influence how women producers engaged aesthetics as a cultural politics?
Is the perception of women producers as either disembodied aesthetes or
embodied feminists in the story of modernism one women producers of this
period themselves tend to share? What models can be conceived with which
to theorize women’s unique positioning in modernity as a site from which
to construct what might be called a politics of aesthetic form?

Areas to be considered might include:

• How might the relation between femininity and (high) modernism or the
avant-garde be conceived for women producers working within these
aesthetics? How and why do women “modernists”â€"as varied as Djuna Barnes,
Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf, Germaine Dulac, H.D., for exampleâ€"see
their gender as related or irrelevant to conceptions of formal innovation?
• How might the relation between femininity and modernity be conceived for
women producers in the interwar period? Is Andreas Huyssens’ point that
mass culture is a feminized other to (high) modernism represented in the
work of women producers? How is femininity ingenuously or strategically
engaged or challenged by women producers as either a primordial source of
creativity outside the modern world or, conversely, as a site of ephemeral
flux and distraction central to modernity?
• How is T.S. Eliot’s “dissociation of sensibility,” the division of body
and mind, one narrative of modernity, disputed or shared by women
producers?What is at stake in the idea of a disembodied aesthetic or,
conversely, embodied materiality for women producers particularly?
• How did war, revolution, and feminist struggles influence the form or
language of women producers? Is “sex war,” for example, as Rebecca West
terms it, an evident influence on some women of the period? How might the
aesthetic be conceived as a site of these particular politics?
• How have women producers in the interwar period been placed in academic
narratives of modernity or modernism, and how have text and context been
negotiated? What particular problems does gender raise for this
negotiation of text and context? How might questions of class, patronage,
and ethnicity or race further complicate viewing modern aesthetics through
the "lens of gender" (as Rita Felski puts it)?

Deadline: September 15, 2008

Please send along a 300-500 word abstract along with your institutional
and contact information to laurel_e_harris at yahoo.com.

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Received on Thu Jul 31 2008 - 14:39:10 EDT