CFP: History and American Modernisms (9/15/05; NEMLA, 3/2/06-3/5/06)

full name / name of organization: 
Ben Railton
contact email: 

Modern History: Constructions of the Past in American Literary
Modernisms. What role did visions of history play in the formation of
and work by American modernist movements (Harlem Renaissance, Southern
Renaissance, expatriates, poets, leftists, etc)? How did writers such as
Hughes, Ransom, Stein, Williams, and Le Seuer construct the past, and to
what ends? All topics and approaches, including interdisciplinary ones,
welcome. E-mail 250-500 word abstracts to Ben Railton
<<>> by
September 15, 2005.

[For further possible inspiration, here's the write-up submitted to

            The varied artistic movements and groupings present on the
American literary scene in the 1920s and 30s, movements that could
collectively be thought to constitute American literary modernism, would
seem to be so disparate as to defy any overarching thematic connections.
How does one put the anthologies and poetry of the Harlem Renaissance in
conversation with the literary magazine work of The Fugitives? What
meaningful common ground exists between the leftist writers of the 30s
and the poetics of Eliot and Pound? How do we pull the expatriates back
from the cafes of Paris and the streets of Pamplona and make them a part
of this multivalent American moment? Certainly there are intersections
and links between individual artists or texts, but any attempt to find a
shared subject would seem arbitrary at best and hopeless at worst.

            Yet this panel represents a preliminary attempt to provide
just such a subject: history. More exactly, I believe that each movement
named above was centrally concerned with constructions of the past,
visions of American and world history and their relevance to the
movement's work and goals and future. From the African mythologies and
slave spirituals in The New Negro to the Fugitives' early fascination
with the Crusades and the Renaissance; the historical biographies and
headlines in U.S.A. to the multivocal historical referents of The Waste
Land; to the intersections of national myths and personal past in Stein
and Fitzgerald, the artists who constituted America's literary
modernisms were consistently and thoroughly in dialogue with and in
creation of constructions of the past. In this panel, we will consider
specifically a few such constructions, both for their own complex sake
and as a method of assessing the links between the varied movements that
made up American literary modernism.

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Received on Tue Jun 28 2005 - 12:45:31 EDT