Modernism, Poetry, and Faith (Montreal, April 7-11, 2010; Proposals by September 30, 2009)

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NeMLA: Northeast Modern Language Association

Call for Papers: Modernism, Poetry, and Faith
41st Anniversary Convention
NeMLA: Northeast Modern Language Association
April 7-11, 2010
Montreal, Quebec - Hilton Bonaventure

The decline of traditional forms of Christianity in the West can be linked to an increasing emphasis on science, rationalism, psychology, feminism, and individualism; a dissatisfaction with religion's impotence in the face of two global wars; and the erosion of traditional sources of social structure such as family, nationalism, and, of course, religion itself. The convergence of historic Christianity's decline and an enduring desire for spiritual meaning resulted in new avenues of epistemological exploration; this rupture of traditional boundaries is apparent in philosophical inquiry, psychological and medical advances, scientific postulations, and the poetic experimentation of thinkers like Eliot, Pound, H.D., Hardy, Yeats, Hopkins, Loy, Stevens, and Moore.

During the Modernist period, poets actively attacked religion, advocated its continued relevance, or suggested new sources of narratives by, for instance, inventing new poetic forms or manipulating past archetypes found in the Jewish and Christian scriptures, the classics literatures of Greece and Rome, or the traditions of other cultures. Eliot urged society to return to Christian traditions to move past the devastation of war. Conversely, Yeats sought to synthesize Christianity with the Celtic occult, Ezra Pound with Chinese philosophy, and H.D. with Greek mythology. Hardy urged a full disavowal of the Christian Demiurge, and Stevens posited a poetry based humanism.

If, as Carl Sandburg assured us in Good Morning, America (1928), "Poetry is a search for syllables to shoot at the barriers of the unknown and the unknowable," then how does Modernist poetry further the possibility of dialogue about ultimate questions in a post-Christendom paradigm? How does it envision its linkages with faith and with the community's ethical, volitional, and intellectual imperatives? In what sense did Modernist poets seek to recultivate their spiritual waste land, and to what extent did they believe they could write new forms of faith?

Please send a 300 word abstract and short bio to Kelly MacPhail,, by September 30, 2009.

With your abstract, please include:
Name and Affiliation
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The 41st Annual NeMLA Convention will feature approximately 360 sessions as well as dynamic speakers and cultural events. Details and the complete Call for Papers for the 2010 Convention are posted at . Interested participants may submit abstracts to more than one NeMLA session; however, panelists can only present one paper (panel or seminar). Convention participants may present a paper at a panel and also present at a creative session or participate in a roundtable. Travel to Canada now requires a passport for U.S. citizens, so be sure to get your passport application in early.