UPDATE: Inventing the Middlebrow (conference)

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Jaime Harker
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Inventing the Middlebrow: The Middlebrow in 20th-Century Literature and Culture
June 27-29, 2014
St. Catherine University, St. Paul, MN

The category of the middlebrow has risen sharply in scholarly significance over the last few years, with the creation of organizations such as the Middlebrow Network, publications of new texts giving an overview of the field (e.g., Brown & Grover (eds.) Middlebrow Literary Cultures) and monographs from major presses (e.g. Berlant, The Female Complaint; Harker, Middlebrow Queer). However, the definition of the term is still excitingly in flux: does it have primarily to do with social and cultural capital, as was traditionally thought? Is it, as mid-century critics such as Clement Greenberg believed, an aesthetic category (albeit an abject one)? To what extent does it have to do with gender? How has it intersected with sexuality? What is its relationship with queer categories such as camp? How might it be periodized? How do its roots in nineteenth-century progressive culture relate to the periods in which the term most widely circulated in both the UK (the 1920s and 30s) and the US (the 1950s)? What is its relationship with modernism, the dominant cultural paradigm of the early twentieth century? How can the category of the middlebrow help scholars to think about twentieth-century culture?

This conference –“Inventing the Middlebrow: The Middlebrow in 20th-Century Literature and Culture”--takes advantage of this exciting moment in middlebrow scholarship by bringing together scholars from different time periods and national traditions to explore the diverse range of literary production in the twentieth century. We seek proposals on any aspect of so-called middlebrow culture, from the Progressive Era, through the interwar period, to Cold War literature and the many literary movements that have marked the second half of the twentieth century and beyond. We welcome papers and panels dealing with race and the middlebrow, rural middlebrow, fat studies, the transatlantic, Hollywood, aesthetics, the politics of reprinting, pedagogy, self-publishing, and middlebrow and the Midwest. We envision a wide-ranging and transnational conversation on the middlebrow, and we especially encourage papers from scholars investigating middlebrow culture after World War II. This conference is co-sponsored by Post-45 (http://post45.research.yale.edu/) and the Middlebrow Research Network (.http://www.middlebrow-network.com/).

Interested participants should submit a one-page c.v. and 250-word abstract by October 1, 2013 to Jaime Harker (jlharker@olemiss.edu) and Cecilia Farr (ckfarr@stkate.edu). We also welcome proposals for panels, workshops, roundtables, seminars, teaching sessions, and study groups.

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