Disrupting the Narrative Agency of Modernism (MSA 18 Pasadena)

full name / name of organization: 
Oleg Gelikman, Soka University of America
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MSA 18 Pasadena Nov. 17-20, 2016

The Splendor of the Real: Disrupting The Narrative Agency of Modernism

What is the central narrative agency of Modernism? Is it mind or matter? Or is it neither? Should we anchor Modernism in the elaboration of inwardness (as we may find it in Henry James, Ford Madox Ford, James Joyce)? Or does it lean upon an implicit appeal to the sovereignty of "indifferent" Nature (for instance, in Flaubert, Conrad or Virginia Woolf)? What if modernism were seen to actualize an even more estranged notion of the Real, one that is best captured under the heading of the "Copernican" Real in Alexandre Koyré's definition, later taken over by Jacques Lacan and Jean-Claude Milner?

Modernism, insisted Adorno, is "not a chronological, but a qualitative category." This panel solicits papers that seek to meet the challenge of qualitative re-definition of Modernism after Adorno.

It is typical of Modernist texts to create epistemic tensions and aesthetic effects resistant to formal, historicist or psychological vocabulary. The participants for this panel are invited to consider the tangled topology of such resistances and put forth new concepts for marking them.

Aiming to bring into relief the disruptions Modernism brings to the industry of culture, the panel is especially interested in papers pursuing the following lines of inquiry:

• The Uses of the Unintelligible: What critical concept should we use to elucidate the resistance of modernist syntax to stylistic, psychological or rhetorical capture? Can the innovations of Deleuze, Lyotard, Rancière, Serres, Badiou and Latour help us in this regard?

• Triple Negation: In what ways do modernist texts entrap the Cartesian cogito? How do they embarrass the worship of Nature? When do they undercut the reproducibility of Culture?

• Altered States, or the New Adventures of the Transcendental-Empirical "Doublet"(Foucault): What altered experiences of time and space emerge from the encounter with the modernist Real?

• Inherent Virtue: What pedagogical potential, if any, can be detected today in the extravagant textures of modernism?

The panel aims to assemble a cross-section of modernist prose in a wide comparative context. In addition to English, French, Russian and German, examples from Eastern European Modernisms, esp. Polish and Czech, are hoped for.

In addition to studies in prose, the panel will also welcome papers examining the intimations of the Real in media other than literary, especially sculpture, painting and music.

Please submit abstracts of 800 words and a scholarly bio to ogelikman@soka.edu by 10 April 2016.