Foreign Bodies in Avant-Garde Art and Literature [EAM, Univ of Kent, 7-9 Sept 2012]

full name / name of organization: 
Marius Hentea, Ghent University
contact email: 

This proposed panel seeks to examine how the art or literature of the historical avant-garde incorporated, disseminated, or rejected foreign bodies. How did the historical avant-garde, which depended upon techniques of alienation and irony, understand the 'foreign'? When considering Kurt Schwitters recuperating other people's junk or the Dada aesthetics of chance, which militated against the category of the 'foreign', it is clear that foreign bodies were an important component of avant-garde aesthetics. The panel is interested not only in the question of the materiality of the body, and the means by which material bodies came to play an important role in dislocating traditional meaning (in either art or performance), but also 'bodies' in a more expansive sense, as something traversing national boundaries. How was space territorialized or deterritorialized in avant-garde art or literature? Given that the avant-gardists were often seen as marginal, 'foreign' themselves either because of their own personal identities (Marinetti's Egyptian childhood, Hans Arp as neither German nor French, Gide and Breton alluding to Tzara as a Romanian Jew) or because of their oppositional aesthetics, how did the avant-garde navigate the space between the foreign and the domestic? Was the avant-garde truly international, or did 'foreign bodies' continue to pose problems?

Please send a 300-word paper proposal and short biography to

by 10 December 2011.