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"Modernist Studies and the 'Angloworld': Confluence or Division?" MSA 16, Pittsburgh, PA, November 6-9, 2014
full name / name of organization:
Maxwell Uphaus, Columbia University
Historical debate about the “British world” has recently been galvanized by James Belich’s ambitious Replenishing the Earth: The Settler Revolution and the Rise of the Angloworld, 1783-1939 (2009). For Belich, the “Angloworld” is the decentralized but interconnected unit formed by Great Britain; its settler colonies in Canada, South Africa, and Australasia; and the United States. He argues that US and British expansion in the long nineteenth century share a common history as parts of a general “Anglo divergence,” a massive surge in Anglophone settlement that far surpassed that of other Europeans.
As they respond to Belich’s recasting of the “British world,” historians have thrown down a gauntlet to literary critics. Reviewing Belich’s book, Dror Wahrman asks, “What enabled the reproduction of metropoles across this Anglo world, what tied its many parts together, and what unified it…?” The answer, he says, must come from cultural historians and literary critics: “If they cannot produce the remains of the veins and sinews of this global…multi-headed English-speaking hydra, then it probably never lived.”
This panel proposes to take up this challenge. In what ways and to what extent can the “veins and sinews” of the (or an) Angloworld be found in modernist-era literature and culture? What common literary patterns can be discerned across this world, and do these patterns substantiate the proposition that a common “Anglo” culture or colonial logic existed? Do material similarities between American and British settlement territories, or between American and British metropolitan cores, give rise to similar formal characteristics or ways of imagining identity in literary works from these regions? How does the Angloworld intersect with, diverge from, or contest other models for thinking about modernist literature outside the nation—transnationalism, cosmopolitanism, empire, the Hispanic or Francophone worlds, the Atlantic world (white or black), or the global? In short, how might modernist and twentieth-century scholars deploy or resist the “Angloworld” as a category for literary analysis?
Potential paper topics include (but are not limited to):
Interested persons should submit a 250-word abstract and a brief bio to Maxwell Uphaus (email@example.com) by April 11, 2014.