The Thin End of the Wedge: Modernism in Little Magazines and Little Theatres; Sept. 30, NeMLA April 3-6, 2014

full name / name of organization: 
Bill Waddell / Northeasst Modern Language Association
contact email:

As we've started to move through the centennials of the publication of key modernist texts and that era begins to seem nearly as remote as the Elizabethan, its major figures the equivalents of the Elgin marbles, this seminar proposes to focus on the times and places when all that was, well, messier, and much more contingent. By (re)examining the literary reviews, little magazines, and little theatre experiments of the first third of the 20th century, the session will try to see modernism (again) as a movement happening in real time, on both sides of the Atlantic, defining itself, cautiously or outrageously, and being resisted. What gestures of modernist energy can a fresh look at these independent projects reveal? What can they remind us of? What ideas, perhaps nearly fossilized, can they re-animate? Presentations might focus on particular publications and/or editors (e.g. Ford at the English Review, Orage at New Age, Lewis and the "men of 1914" at BLAST, Monroe at Poetry) or individual dramatists and companies (e.g. O'Neill, Millay and the Provincetown Players). They might focus on the role, in these shifting circumstances, of some venerable institutions (Blackwoods published Heart of Darkness, after all, and Virginia Woolf wrote often for the Times Literary Supplement), or on the responses from a more conservative point of view, politically and culturally (e.g. the National Review, or The Academy under Thomas Crosland). They could demonstrate, or speculate on, some things that recent developments like the Modernist Journals Project have revealed, or activities, inquiries they've made possible, for us and for our students. They could, no doubt, take other tacks: this is hardly an exhaustive list.

Questions, 200-400 word abstracts by Sept. 30 to Bill Waddell,

cfp categories: 
modernist studies