CFP: The Archive as Modernist Literary Form (4/30/06; MSA 8, 10/19/06-10/22/06)

full name / name of organization: 
Morgan Myers

"These fragments I have shorn": Archive as the Literary Form of Modernism

"Quotation," writes Lawrence Rainey, "is a salient feature of major
modernist texts, whether The Cantos or The Waste Land, Ulysses or To the
Lighthouse." Indeed, given the absolute centrality of quotation and allusion
in many of these texts, as well as in texts by the modernists' inheritors
among the Objectivists, the Language school and others, it might be possible
to say that quotation is the salient feature of major modernist texts. Many
of these texts are so permeated by citation that they become virtual
archives themselves---of the literary canon, of history, of contemporary
culture. In the process, they often pursue the same goals as the archive as
well: archeological research into more or less acknowledged histories;
preservation of cultural monuments perceived as under threat (Eliot);
exhibition of artifacts in interpretative arrangements. Often, they
undertake a pursuit of origins through the networks of documents and texts
they establish, tracing, as Fenollosa said the poet must, "back along the
ancient lines of advance" towards an Adamic language, a lost cultural
wholeness or a primordial moment of trauma.

What can these figurative archives teach us about the structure of the
archive in general, about the act of creating an archive and about its
relationship to human tradition and memory? How does the archive function,
through these texts, as a metaphor itself of the production of the canon, of
history, identity or the self? Is this archival form unique to the modernist
and their heirs, or is it innate to the process of writing within culture?
And why is it only at the moment of modernism that this archival form
becomes apparent, or comes into being?

This is a proposed panel for the MSA conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma on 19-22
October 2006. Please Send 200 word maximum abstracts to
and by April 30. Please include a brief bio or CV as

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Received on Fri Mar 31 2006 - 07:08:47 EST