Pennsylvania and American Modernist Poetry (NeMLA, Harrisburg, PA, 3-6 April 2013)

full name / name of organization: 
Kelly C. MacPhail

Call for Papers: "Pennsylvania and American Modernist Poetry"
Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
3-6 April 2014; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Host: Susquehanna University

In honor of NeMLA's 2014 host state, this panel explores the vital yet unexamined role of Pennsylvania as a hothouse for American modernist poetry. A surprisingly large number of major American modernist poets held significant ties to the state of Pennsylvania. Wallace Stevens hailed from Reading. H.D. was born in Bethlehem and lived in North Darby and Philadelphia. Ezra Pound grew up in Wyncote and Jenkintown, courted H.D., and attended the University of Pennsylvania where he met William Carlos Williams, who was studying for his medical degree. Marianne Moore met H.D. when both were students at Bryn Mawr, and she later taught at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. None of these poets stayed in Pennsylvania past World War I, but the state and its settings continue to influence their poetry. Although the writing careers of these poets began in the Keystone state, Pennsylvania's place within modernist literature, frankly, remains overlooked—modernism is considered a movement of the great metropolises whereas Pennsylvania, the land of the trees, is presumed to be too parochial and too rural or too full of "brotherly love" to have much to do with the great art of the tumultuous early twentieth century. For these poets, however, the state holds an important legacy as the place where their poetic sensibilities first developed and where some of the most crucial relationships of American modernism were first formed. How did Pennsylvania shape these poets? How did they in turn represent the state, its landscape, their early lives, their families, and their comings of age as poets? How did Pennsylvania frame modernism more widely through them?

Send 250 word proposals and a short bio to Kelly C. MacPhail, McGill University, at by September 30, 2013.

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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.

The 2014 NeMLA convention continues the Association's tradition of sharing innovative scholarship in an engaging and generative location. This capitol city set on the Susquehanna River is known for its vibrant restaurant scene, historical sites, the National Civil War museum, and nearby Amish Country, antique shops and Hershey Park. NeMLA has arranged low hotel rates of $104-$124. The 2014 event will include guest speakers, literary readings, professional events, and workshops. A reading by George Saunders will open the Convention. His 2013 collection of short fiction, The Tenth of December, has been acclaimed by the New York Times as: "the best book you'll read this year." NeMLA's Keynote Speaker will be David Staller, Producer and Director of Project Shaw. Mr. Staller presents monthly script-in-hand performances of Bernard Shaw's plays at the Players Club in New York City.