Modernist Studies Association Conference, 6-9 November 2014; "Modernity, Contingency, Community" panel

full name / name of organization: 
Steph Brown/University of Arizona; Thomas Claviez/University of Bern
contact email: 

The Confluence and Division website poses the question "How can modernist practices, aesthetics, and formations be situated within or in relation to modernity's energies, imagined as layers, structures, and figures of confluence and division?" We suggest that modernist representations of contingency afford unique ways of situating these energies in a variety of aesthetic, political, and philosophical contexts. Our panel proposes to examine texts, artifacts, and modernist contexts in which communities are constructed in relation to, and make productive use of, a phenomenon that has been identified as one of the key characteristics of modernity: that of contingency.

How, we ask, can an ethic of contingency contribute to the political, artistic, or social efficacy of communal projects? Can a strategic deployment of contingency-based ethics lead to a rapprochement between aesthetics and politics? What aesthetic forms might such a rapprochement take, and will we have to rethink central notions such as aesthetic unity? Do we have to rethink the concept of community itself in the light of modern contingency? Might an awareness of contingency enable the creation of new communities, and what type of legacies do such communities leave behind them? How might the idea of contingency inflect the question of what it means to do "modernist studies," interdisciplinary or otherwise?

Please submit paper proposals (250 words or less) and a short bio to Steph Brown at by 1 April 2014.