"Modernism, Amateurism, and Specialization," MSA Conference, Victoria, Canada, Nov. 11-14, Deadline May 1

full name / name of organization: 
Daniel Harney, University of Toronto
contact email: 
daniel.t.harney@gmail.com

This panel will explore how Modernists understood the increasing specialization and institutionalization of the arts during the modernist period. Modernist literature was uniquely impacted by the establishment of English literature as a university discipline and the simultaneous founding of specialist literary journals and societies in the early twentieth century. Critical projects by figures like T. S. Eliot, I .A. Richards, and F. R. and Q. D Leavis condemned the undisciplined (in both senses) approach of the amateur "man of letters" who had thrived prior to the twentieth century. Challenges to the way English literature was talked and written about influenced the critical and literary works of Modernists like Virginia Woolf and Ford Madox Ford, who actively fought against literary specialization and argued for the preservation of an amateur engagement with literature. Their position is reflected in Gerald Graff's recent lamentation of the specialist's "habit of domesticating difference by compartmentalizing it, enforcing quarantines to prevent contagion, fertilization, fermentation, and other signs of life." Although Modernists expanded and collapsed the meaning of the terms "specialist" and "amateur" in various ways, many critical studies of Modernism published over the last two decades presume the terms to be stable and uncontentious. This panel invites papers that investigate all aspects of Modernist cultural, institutional, and artistic specialization and/or amateurism.

Papers may address the topics of literature, film, history, or philosophy

Possible topics include:

Cultural and Institutional Modernity
Race, Class, Gender and Specialization/Amateurism
Marxism and Specialization
Theorizing specialist and/or amateur modes of thought
Institutional Histories related to Specialization and its Discontents

Please send a proposal of no more than 300 words and a brief biography by May 1 to Daniel Harney at daniel.t.harney@gmail.com

cfp categories: 
american
professional_topics
twentieth_century_and_beyond