[UPDATE] ‘On or about December 1910’: Centenary reflections and contemporary debates, modernsim and beyond

full name / name of organization: 
Dr Bryony Randall and Dr Matthew Creasy, University of Glasgow
contact email: 


This inaugural conference of the British Association of Modernist Studies and Scottish Network of Modernist Studies is based around Virginia Woolf’s famous and controversial statement in an essay of 1923, often taken as indicating a possible starting-point for modernity, that ‘on or about December 1910, human character changed.’

We invite scholars and practitioners from all disciplines to respond to any aspect of this statement. Relevant disciplines might include but are not restricted to literature, history of art, cultural history and the history of ideas. We do not want to limit participation to those who regard themselves as modernist scholars, and are keen to include the kind of oppositional and interrogative stances that the quotation implicitly encourages.

Confirmed plenary speakers:
• Professor Jean-Michel Rabaté (University of Pennsylvia) on Roger Fry’s formalism and Bloomsbury.
• Professor Susan Manning (University of Edinburgh) on writing character before 1910
• Professor David Peters Corbett (University of York) on transatlantic modernist change around 1910.
Introductory address: Professor Laura Marcus (University of Edinburgh)

Topics might include but are not restricted to:
• glossing the symptoms of change in 1910 that Woolf cites in her explanation of that slogan.
• broader contexts and tangents, literary, cultural, political, historical, which might include:
o death of the King; Asquith government crisis; suffragettes and other political unrest;
o Post-Impressionist show; Dreadnought hoax;
o events beyond Britain in Europe, Mexico, Africa etc.;
o books published in 1910;
o activities of key cultural figures at that moment;
o 1910 diary entries.
• philosophy on or about 1910 – idealism, pragmatism and beyond.
• religion, spirituality, modernity.
• periodization and theories of change.
• theories and representations of ‘human character’.
• 1910 seen from the 1920s.
• ‘in or about’ or ‘on or about’?
o Prepositions and temporality.
o Versions of Woolf – Leonard Woolf as editor.
• accuracy and arbitrariness.

Paper abstracts of 200 words, or proposals for panels, round-tables, seminars, or other expressions of interest, should be sent to conference organizers Bryony Randall and Matthew Creasy via email at snms@arts.gla.ac.uk by 1st May 2010. For further information, see the conference website:

We would also draw your attention to an event running parallel with the conference: Interceptions: Theory’s Modernism and Modernism’s Theory. Sponsored by the AHRC and run in association with the Scottish Network of Modernist Studies and British Association of Modernist Studies, this one-day postgraduate-led symposium aims to provide a forum for debate and exchange on topics relating to the interceptions between modernism and theory.

The organisers of Interceptions would welcome proposals from those planning to attend the 1910 conference who would also like to propose papers at or participate in the Interceptions event.

Confirmed plenary speakers are Dr. Stephen Ross (University of Victoria) and the current president of the Modernist Studies Association, and Professor Pamela L. Caughie (Loyola University Chicago). Building on Glasgow’s thriving postgraduate reading group community, the event will include a “reading group in action” workshop as well as seminar workshops, where delegates’ papers will be discussed.

Papers (2000 words) will be distributed to participants prior to the conference, with brief summaries given by delegates on the day. Please send abstracts of 200-250 words by 1st May 2010 to the conference organisers via email at interceptions@googlegroups.com. For further information see the conference website at http://www.gla.ac.uk/departments/snms/interceptionssymposium/

NB: Registration for the 1910 Centenary Conference includes attendance at Interceptions, but those intending to present at Interceptions should also register with the organisers.

cfp categories: