The Battle of the Brows: Cultural Distinctions in the Space Between, 1914-1945 (Jan 15/11; June 16-18/11)

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Space Between Society: Literature and Culture, 1914-1945
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The Battle of the Brows: Cultural Distinctions in the Space Between, 1914-1945
McGill University, Montreal, Canada
June 16-18, 2011

With the massive growth in the production and consumption of literature, music and art in the period 1914-1945 came powerful anxieties about cultural authority and transmission. As audiences and artists increasingly came from middle or lower classes, critics tried to distinguish between the "serious" and the "popular." Cultural distinctions that relied, directly or indirectly, on attitudes toward hierarchies of gender, class, and race came under increasing scrutiny. It was a time of debate and radical change: new media and materials (radio, film, jazz, paperback novels) gained ground over traditional forms and venues (classical music, poetry, theatre); many arts became professionalized, rather than relying on inherited incomes; institutions such as the Book of the Month Club and the BBC formed new communities of cultural consumption.
How does recognition of these social and cultural conflicts impact our work as scholars of the space between the wars? Conversely, how does our work impact the vocabularies and values through which we access and understand the societies and cultures of this time period?
The 13th annual Space Between Society Conference, in cooperation with the Middlebrow Network, invites proposals that consider questions and problems related to cultural distinction in the years 1914-1945. Please send abstracts (no more than 300 words) along with a short biographical statement to by 15 January 2011. Possible topics include:
• Middlebrow culture and the discourses of modernity
• Art in the marketplace
• Cultural capital and cultural minorities
• Documentaries, Hollywood film, art film, the woman's film
• Theatre, vaudeville, street theatre, group theatre
• Visual culture: photography, painting, advertising
• Music, soundtracks, opera, jazz, musicals
• Kitsch
• Working-class cultures
• Architecture, furniture, and interior design
• Historical crises and cultural responses: militarization, demobilization, civilian life
• Domesticity and domestic service
• Pleasure, entertainment, and audiences
• International popular cultures
• The avant-garde
• Genres and modes: melodrama, social realism, adventure fiction, spy thrillers, romances
• Movement across media: film, print, radio, gramophone
• Public radio and broadcasting: BBC, CBC, ABC
• Mass-Observation

Paula Derdiger, Ian Whittington, Justin Pfefferle
McGill University