CFP: [20th] Women Producers and the Politics of Form in the Interwar Period

full name / name of organization: 
Laurel Harris

Call for Papers
“Women Producers and the Politics of Form in the Interwar Period”
40th Anniversary Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
February 26-March 1, 2009
Hyatt Regency, Boston, MA

This panel will ask how the aesthetics of women producersâ€"including novelists, short story
writers, filmmakers, journalists, and poetsâ€"in the 1920s and 1930s might be conceived as
political activism or social vision. How might gendered discourses of this interwar period of
modernity influence how women producers engaged aesthetics as a cultural politics? Is the
perception of women producers as either disembodied aesthetes or embodied feminists in the
story of modernism one women producers of this period themselves tend to share? What models
can be conceived with which to theorize women’s unique positioning in modernity as a site from
which to construct what might be called a politics of aesthetic form?

Areas to be considered might include:
• How might the relation between femininity and (high) modernism or the avant-garde be
conceived for women producers working within these aesthetics? How and why do women
“modernists”â€"as varied as Djuna Barnes, Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf, Germaine Dulac, H.D.,
for exampleâ€"see their gender as related or irrelevant to conceptions of formal innovation?
• How might the relation between femininity and modernity be conceived for women
producers in the interwar period? Is Andreas Huyssens’ provocative point that mass culture is a
feminized other to (high) modernism represented in the work of women producers? How is
femininity ingeniously or strategically engaged or challenged by women producers as either a
primordial source of creativity outside the modern world or, conversely, as a site of ephemeral
flux and distraction central to modernity?
• How is T.S. Eliot’s “disassociation of sensibility,” the division of body and mind, one narrative
of modernity, disputed or shared by women producers? What is at stake in the idea of a
disembodied aesthetic or, conversely, embodied materiality for women producers particularly?
• How did war, revolution, and feminist struggles influence the form or language of women
producers? Is “sex war,” for example, as Rebecca West terms it, an evident influence on some
women of the period? How might the aesthetic be conceived as a site of these particular
• How have women producers in the interwar period been placed in academic narratives of
modernity or modernism, and how have text and context been negotiated? What particular
problems does gender raise for this negotiation of text and context? How might questions of
class, patronage, and ethnicity or race further complicate viewing modern aesthetics through the
"lens of gender" (as Rita Felski puts it)?

Deadline: September 15, 2008

Please send along a 300-500 word abstract along with your institutional and contact information
to laurel_e_harris at

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Received on Thu May 22 2008 - 13:40:47 EDT