MSA11: Modernism and the Commodity Fetish (panel proposal)

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Modernist Studies Association
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In Capital: Volume One, Karl Marx writes that the commodity fetish develops when we "bring the products of our labour into relation with each other as values." In the process, we convert "every product into a social hieroglyphic. Later on, we try to decipher the hieroglyphic, to get behind the secret of our own social products; for to stamp an object of utility as a value, is just as much a social product as language." In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as disintegrating social structures allowed for new understandings of class-based identities, the hieroglyphic messages of commodities contribute to the construction of systems of social value. This panel seeks to consider the ways in which the commodity fetish becomes one of the languages of modernism, as fashions, objects, and their social values are represented in the texts of literary modernism.

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words to Amanda Gradisek ( by April 30, 2009.