CFP: Modernism and Theory (3/1/06; collection)

full name / name of organization: 
Stephen Ross
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"In Theory Lies Modernism"

This volume asks about -- and offers multiple
perspectives on -- the relationship between modernism and theory.
As the most recent modernist studies association
conference (November 3-6, 2005) made abundantly
clear, the last decade's tendency to expand the
temporal, geographical, and material boundaries
of modernism continues unabated. Yet, in a
twofold irony, this renewed vitality of modernist
studies has come at the expense of a key area of
inquiry that is both intimately linked to
modernism and largely responsible for the
rejuvenation of modernist studies: critical theory.

On the one hand, critical theory clearly develops
alongside of and emerges from modernism, and yet
it is all-too-often seen as decisively breaking
with it or (worse) as constituting the phantasm
of postmodernism. This initial irony is
compounded by the fact that the massive
rejuvenation of modernist studies was enabled
precisely by theory's confrontation with the
predominant notions of the literary, canon
formation, disciplinary formations, high and low
culture, progress, civilisation, and imperialism.
By repressing theory's fundamental continuities
with modernism along with its power to enable the
"new modernisms," modernist studies have run
precisely the kind of risk its new inclusive
ethic strains so hard to avoid: it forecloses a
critical perspective on modernist studies – a
perspective whose claim to consideration is all
the stronger because it is not simply on modernism but part of it as well.

Breaking with the mechanisms of repression and
foreclosure which see theory excluded from the
"new modernist studies" in all but the most
instrumental capacities, "In Theory Lies
Modernism" will begin from the assertion that
modernism and theory have deep and enlightening
affinities. It will continue the "new modernist"
project of expanding what qualifies as modernist,
and it will restore theory to the realm of modernist studies.

To this end, "In Theory Lies Modernism" will use
a dialogical format whose effectiveness has
recently been demonstrated in Olson and Kerby's
_Voices in Dialogue_ (University of Notre Dame
Press, 2005). This format places original
contributions and replies to those contributions
in direct conversation. Several prominent
modernist critics have already indicated an
interest in writing such responses.

With this engaging format "In Theory Lies
Modernism" will bring to the forefront of
critical study a set of relations,
correspondences, continuities and ruptures which
have gone seriously understudied thus far, not
simply inaugurating and setting the terms of
discussion, but also initiating sustainable lines
of inquiry that can generate productive dialogue for years to come.

Interested? Please contact Stephen Ross at for a full description of the
project. 500-word proposals are due by 1 March,
2006; full papers will be required as soon as six weeks after that date.

Stephen Ross,
Assistant Professor of English,
University of Victoria,
P. O. Box 3070 Stn CSC,
Victoria, BC V8W 3W1

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Received on Mon Nov 21 2005 - 16:34:40 EST