“Modernism Today” - MSA 19, Amsterdam

deadline for submissions: 
January 13, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Modernist Studies Association
contact email: 

CFP for the Modernist Studies Association’s Annual Conference“Modernism Today”Amsterdam, August 10-13, 2017Hosts:University of AmsterdamStedelijk Museum AmsterdamUniversity of GroningenUtrecht UniversityCommonwealth Center for the Humanities and Society, University of LouisvilleAmsterdam School of Cultural AnalysisOnderzoekschool LiteratuurwetenschapThe English Department at Florida State UniversityDeadlines:Seminar and Workshop Proposals: 16 December 2016Panel, Roundtable, and Digital Exhibition Proposals: 13 January 2017

MSA 19 will not only take place on the centenary of one of Modernism’s many anni mirabiles, it will also be located in the city renowned for Rembrandt and Spinoza as well as De Stijl and the Amsterdamse School, a city well-known for its daring and usually successful blending of the historical and the modern. We will use this occasion to tackle head-on Modernism’s relation to our present. What does Modernism mean to us today – to us as cultural consumers, as scholarly observers, and as active participants in its projects? Modernism’s own explicit self-identification with the ever-shifting present – “il faut être absolument moderne”, “make it new”, etc. – has always tugged at its historical moorings and resisted standard attempts at periodization. It has challenged us repeatedly to redefine and reconsider the meaning of the term “modernism,” as well as to engage in endless debates about its scope, its internal coherence, and its purview.

The setting of Amsterdam will provide us with an opportunity to exercise our Eliotic “historical sense,” “a perception, not only of the pastness of the past, but of its presence,” and to think about the responsibilities and demands the modernist past – and our own present – place upon us. As consumers of Modernist culture, as scholars pressured to “always historicize” and yet make history useful for life, as Modernism-inspired producers of culture, we must ask ourselves: How does Modernism interact, blend in, or jar with our – and its – present-day environment? 

Depending on the emphasis and tone with which ‘Modernism Today’ is given voice, it can be understood as descriptive or imperative in a variety of ways. Accordingly, topics for papers on our theme may range widely and include, for example, the following:

  • Modernist chronologies

  • conceptions of the present in Modernism

  • Modernism and new media

  • canonization processes 

  • Modernism and recent developments in critical theory

  • the historiography of Modernism

  • Modernism and globalization

  • current trends in Modernism research 

  • Modernism in the light of eco-criticism

  • the persistence of Modernism

  • Modernism in contemporary literature and art

  • periodical research and Modernism

  • Modernism in the light of geo-criticism

  • interdisciplinary Modernism

The conference organizers invite proposals for seminars and pre-conference workshops (due December 16, 2016), panels, roundtables, poster sessions, multimedia/digital exhibitions (due January 13, 2017). We gently encourage proposals relevant to the conference theme and the topics listed above, but welcome panel, seminar, and roundtable proposals on all topics related to modernism. The primary criterion for selection will be the quality of the proposal, not its relevance to the conference theme. We ask that proposals provide complete panels and roundtables. Individuals seeking to create or to participate in a panel or roundtable are encouraged to visit the MSA CFP page or the MSA Facebook page for guidelines to develop and opportunities to promote a panel or roundtable. All proposals requiring A/V equipment must specify those needs. All queries should be directed to MSA19Amsterdam@gmail.com.

Participation: Because we wish to involve as many people as possible as active participants, the MSA limits multiple appearances on the program. Thus, you may participate once, but only once, in each of the following categories: * Seminar, either as leader or as participant * Panel or roundtable, as participant (you may also chair a different panel or roundtable) * ‘What Are You Reading?’ session You may lead a seminar, present a paper on a panel, and participate in a “What Are You Reading” session, but you may not present two papers. MSA rules do not allow panel or roundtable organizers to chair their own session if they are also speaking in the session. The session chair must be someone who is otherwise not participating in the session. Panel organizers are encouraged to identify a moderator and include this information with their proposals; the MSA Program Committee can also ask another conference attendee to serve as a moderator. Participation in a pre-conference workshop or in a digital exhibition does not constrain other forms of participation. All those who attend the MSA conference must be members of the organization with dues paid for 2017-2018 (MSA membership runs from July 1 until June 30 each year.) For information on MSA, please check the website. Participants are expected to present in person.

CALL FOR SEMINAR PROPOSALSDeadline: December 16, 2016

Seminars are among the most unique features of the MSA conference. Participants write brief position papers (5-7 pages) that are circulated and read prior to the conference. Because their size is limited to 15 participants, seminars generate lively exchange and often facilitate future collaborations. The format also allows a larger number of conference attendees to seek financial support from their institutions as they educate themselves and their colleagues on subjects of mutual interest. Seminars are two hours in length. Because seminars led solely by graduate students are not likely to be accepted, we encourage interested graduate students to invite a faculty member to lead the seminar with them. Please note that this is the call for seminar leaders. Sign-up for seminar participants will take place on a first-come, first-served basis coinciding with registration for the conference. Seminar Topics: There are no limits on topics, but past experience has shown that the more clearly defined the topic and the more guidance provided by the leader, the more productive the discussion. “Clearly defined” should not be confused with “narrow,” as extremely narrow seminar topics tend to exclude many potential participants. To scan past seminar topics, go to the Conference Archives on the MSA website, click the link to a prior conference, and then click on “Conference Schedule” or “Conference Program.” You’ll find seminars listed along with panels and other events.

Submit proposals by December 16, 2016 by completing the following online form: MSA 19 Seminar Proposal Form.


Pre-conference workshops are held on the Thursday that the conference begins. They focus on topics related to professional life, such as publishing, teaching, the job market, mid-career challenges and opportunities, research and the liberal arts college, and alternative/non-academic jobs. Popular workshops in previous years have been on topics including, “What Do Presses Want from a First Book?,” “Digital Approaches to Modernism,” and “Critical Writing.” Participation in a pre-conference workshop does not constrain participation in other aspects of the conference.

Workshops should be participatory in format and can be either 90 or 120 minutes in length. They may be entirely led by one person or may include a panel of experts. Please note that this call is for workshop leaders. Registration for workshops will occur at the same time as conference registration.

Submit proposals by December 16, 2016 by completing the following online form: MSA19 Thursday Workshop Proposal Form.

CALL FOR PANEL PROPOSALSDeadline: January 13, 2017

Successful proposals will introduce topics that promise to expand existing research projects and current debates, and will present a clear rationale for the papers’ collective goal. Panel proposals that engage recent contentious research, exciting new approaches, or theoretical interventions into the field are encouraged. Topics are not limited to the theme conference theme. Please bear in mind these guidelines: We encourage interdisciplinary panels and strongly discourage panels on single authors. In order to allow for discussion, preference will be given to panels with three participants, although panels of four will be considered. Panels composed entirely of participants from a single department at a single institution are not likely to be accepted. Graduate students are welcome as panelists, but panels composed entirely of graduate students are less likely to be accepted than panels that include postdoctoral presenters together with graduate students.

Submit proposals by completing the following online form by January 13, 2017: MSA 19 Panel Proposal Form.


All topics will be considered for roundtables, but we encourage proposals that develop the theme of the conference. Unlike panels, which generally feature a sequence of 15-20 minute talks followed by discussion, roundtables gather a group of participants around a shared concern in order to generate discussion among the participants and with the audience. To this end, instead of delivering full-length papers, participants are asked to deliver short position statements in response to questions distributed in advance by the organizer or to take turns responding to prompts from the moderator. The bulk of the session should be devoted to discussion. No paper titles are listed in the program, only the names of participants. Please bear in mind these guidelines:

Roundtables may feature as many as 6 speakers. We particularly welcome roundtables featuring participants from multiple disciplines, and we discourage roundtables on single authors. Roundtables composed entirely of participants from a single department at a single institution are not likely to be accepted. Graduate students are welcome as speakers, but roundtables composed entirely of graduate students are less likely to be accepted than those that include postdoctoral presenters together with graduate students.

Submit proposals by completing the following online form by January 13, 2017: MSA 19 Roundtable Proposal Form.


Reflecting the growing role of the digital humanities in modernist studies and the proliferation of work that does not lend itself to presentation in the form of a scholarly paper, we invite proposals that provide a short overview (including web links) of 1) the nature, design, and purpose of a digital project; 2) how the project advances modernist studies; and 3) how the presenters would want to exhibit and explain the project at the conference. Be sure to list all participants and institutions involved in the project, and specify who among these would attend the conference. 

Submit proposals by completing the following online form by January 13, 2017: MSA 19 Poster Session and Digital Exhibit Form.