'Legacies' of Modernism (Panel for MSA 2019)
CFP for MSA Panel Proposal: 'Legacies' of Modernism
General Conference Theme: Upheaval and Reconstruction
Toronto, ON, CA. October 17-20, 2019
Recent critics have turned to literary modernism to explain the characteristics of contemporary literature. Departing from the account that circumscribes modernism to a movement between 1900 and 1930, one situated in the metropoles of Europe, scholars have broadened the meaning of category, allowing for its application to geographically diverse texts written recently. Such a project compels us trace a lineage between Franz Kafka and J.M. Coetzee, E.M. Forster and Zadie Smith, or involves us in the identification of strategies of irony, defamiliarization and self-reflexivity in the work of J.M. Coetzee, Tayeb Salih, Kazuo Ishiguro, Christopher Okigbo and Zadie Smith. Jahan Ramazani, for instance, argues that there is a convivial connection between the bricolage of modernist poetry and the hybridity of postcolonial poetics. Aarthi Vadde has proposed that modernist form allows for transnational identification, becoming a resource in the hands of postcolonialists, because “concern with the mechanics of form, medium and compositional methods [lead] authors… to think about nations as contingent constructions.”
But post-colonial literary studies has long acknowledged the relative importance of modernism as a resource for tropes and techniques (as when Bill Ashcroft’s seminal text initiated the “writing back” paradigm of literary history), but without conceding contemporary literature entirely to modernism. Similarly, postmodernism in the contemporary novel was often described as a movement that superseded naïve modernist tenets--ones which avowed the possibility of objective understanding or the coherence of subjectivity—with more savvy ones. This panel invites papers who explore the consequences of reframing the relationship between modern and contemporary in terms of “legacy,” “influence” and “connection,” rather than “opposition,” “refusal” or “upheaval.” What does the “continuity” model offer for the reading of contemporary literature? When “expanding” the meaning of modernism, do we implicitly seek to “arraogat[e] intellectual capital to those objects or conditions it (newly) designates” (David James, 2018)? If so, then what value system does our literary history encode?
Please send a 300-word paper proposal and a short biography to Jap-Nanak Makkar (firstname.lastname@example.org) by March 5, 2019.