Resistance and Reform: Modernist Women and American Social Engagement

deadline for submissions: 
July 15, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Jody Cardinal, Deirdre Egan-Ryan, Julia Lisella

While the study of modernism typically focuses on avant-garde formal experimentation, the collected volume of essays, Resistance and Reform: Modernist Women and American Social Engagement, offers an important corrective by insisting on a reassessment of the roots of modernist experimentation and innovation. This volume will include essays that analyze the careers and writings of modernist women writers during the first half of the twentieth century whose artistic productions were closely tied to or invested in various forms of social engagement, community activism, political resistance, or cultural change. As a whole, this volume will explore the ways in which modernist artistic innovations by women writers might be more expansively reconceived in light of the social and political movements from which such careers and works emerged. By so doing, this volume will serve to expand the existing scholarly conversations by examining new connections and opening up new areas of focus for the next generation of scholars of modernism, women  and gender studies, activist writing, and American literature of the first half of the 20th century.

For this volume, the editors seek previously unpublished essays that focus on modernist women writers whose work foregrounds social, political, or cultural change. Essays may also consider women artists and intellectuals who were working toward similar aims. Ideally, essays will explore the ways in which a focus on such engagement expands or reconsiders our current American modernist canon. The editors interpret “modernism” and “social engagement” widely, and will consider essays from all critical, theoretical, and disciplinary perspectives that focus on U.S. women writers and artists from roughly 1910-1945. Within these parameters, the editors are interested in essays that might do any of the following:

  • reinterpret canonical and non-canonical texts in light of socially engaged modernism
  • raise questions about the relationship between experimentation and activism
  • interpret texts as modernist that have not been categorized as such (e.g. regionalists, Harlem Renaissance writers, sentimental or popular writers, etc.)
  • focus on the lesser-known work of advocacy, resistance, or reform of more well-known and canonical artists whose engaged work or focus remains understudied
  • expand theoretical, national, or historical borders while maintaining a U.S. focus
  • approach the topic from an interdisciplinary perspective  
  • consider issues of gender, race, ethnicity, or sexuality
  • interrogate the effects of imperialism, economics, or cosmopolitanism on a work or works
  • refute or support the notion of an “alternate” modernism

Indeed, all sound abstracts will be given full consideration.

For an invitation to contribute, please send a 500- to 750-word abstract, an abbreviated 2 page CV, and a cover note that 1) tells us a bit about how your work would contribute to such a volume, and 2) provides a brief bio that refers to publications and current research, by July 15. We anticipate making final selections for the volume by August 15 and will require completed manuscripts by November 15th.

Please send queries and submission materials to