Modernism, Modernity, and Politics: Face-off or Interface? NeMLA (April 7-10, 2011), Rutgers University (deadline Sept. 27)

full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA), hosted by Rutgers U, New Brunswick, NJ
contact email: 

Although much has been written about the later personal politicization of a modernist such as Ezra Pound, critics have inadequately addressed the relationship between Anglo-American literary modernism and politics through an over-emphasis on the apolitical formal innovations of the movement: for instance, imagism in poetry or the stream-of-consciousness in fiction. Equally de-emphasized in critical discourse is the relationship between western literary modernism and non-western literary modernities, a relationship that invites exploration particularly due to the claims of cosmopolitanism made by the former. Although born in a Euro-centric context, western modernism had a far-reaching impact on contemporaneous Asian writers, for example. Yet, due to their colonial contexts, many such writers also lay claim to modernity through their deeply politicized—rather than apolitical/dehistoricized—literary visions. This panel will engage the relationship between literary modernism, literary modernity, and politics from a transnational perspective, with a focus on fiction. Does Anglo-American modernist fiction manifest a face-off with politics (and with a politicized conception of art) or an interface that has been elided by most critics of modernism? Is there a hiatus between British and American modernist fiction in this regard? How do non-western modern writers simultaneously negotiate western literary modernism and politicized fictional discourses that mark their modernity?

The panel, in its entirety, aims at initiating a transnational dialogue on modernity and modernism in fiction from a politicized framework; however, individual papers need not be on transnational topics. Ideally, the panel will include four papers, one each engaging some political dimension(s) in British modernism, US modernism, Asian modernity-modernism, and African or Latin American modernity-modernism, respectively. Papers may be on single or multiple texts/authors and politics may be interpreted broadly to include, for instance, gender politics.

Please send 250 word abstracts (including your affiliation) by 9/27 to Sri Mukherjee ( with "NeMLA Abstract" in the subject line.