MSA 12: Arrivals, Departures, and Delays: Navigating Modernity

full name / name of organization: 
Sarah Townsend
contact email: 
sltownse@berkeley.edu

This is a late CFP for the Modernist Studies Association Annual Conference, November 11-14, 2010, in Victoria, B.C.

This panel explores modernism's preoccupation with travel and mobility by shifting the discussion from its wandering masses to its more purposive journeys. The exile and the flâneur are often heralded as emblems of modernist detachment; Raymond Williams credits these "restlessly mobile" figures for ushering modernism's "intense, singular narrative of unsettlement, homelessness, solitude and impoverished independence." Yet travelers--those with fixed destinations, whether or not they reach them--are equally important modernist figures. Travelers mark out the temporal and socio-political dynamics of modernism through the textual traces of their journeys (maps, schedules, identification papers) and in their navigation of modern spaces like stations, trains, checkpoints and borders. Would-be travelers, in turn, reveal the journeys that modernism's upheavals could not permit. Their frustrated arrivals, premature departures, and interrupted journeys map a modernism fueled by unfulfilled itineraries of desire, grounded by both a literal and literary sense of what Marina MacKay calls "going nowhere." If the exile serves as the go-to figure for modernist detachment, travelers map instead modernism’s disparate attachments. Their intentions--why they are departing and where they hope to arrive--chart a different story of modernity.

Possible paper topics include, but are not limited to, travel writing and documentaries, emigration and immigration, war and displacement, cosmopolitanism, geopolitics, speed and modernist temporalities.

Please send a 250-word abstract and a short biographical statement to Sarah Townsend (sltownse@berkeley.edu) by September 24.

cfp categories: 
cultural_studies_and_historical_approaches
modernist studies
travel_writing
twentieth_century_and_beyond