MSA 2020 - Street Smarts: On Modernist Know-How

deadline for submissions: 
March 18, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Modernist Studies Association (Brooklyn NY, Oct. 22-25, 2020)
contact email: 

DEADLINE EXTENDED - NOW MARCH 18, 2020. This panel pursues MSA's conference theme this year, "Streets," by discussing "Street Smarts."  

Modernism has its smart sets, not just Mencken’s but in Stein’s salons and Woolf’s Bloomsbury, and in the serious philosophical engagements (and antipathies) of T.S. Eliot, Dora Marsden, Samuel Beckett, and others. But how do “street-smarts” inform conversations about modernism’s epistemological and intellectual positions? How do the streets, with their marginal figures and spaces, refine critical views of what counts as knowing? How do the streets re-orient epistemology with a phenomenology of everyday things? 

This panel will examine the ways streets set scenes for “know-how” and praxis, for instruction and understanding in the midst of the epistemic ruptures of modernist aesthetics and everyday experience. Contributions to this panel may expand on such issues as an aesthetic education in eras of globalization (Gayatri Spivak), changing notions of what art objects and experiences “afford” (Caroline Levine), and the importance of environments for knowing and understanding. The panel takes seriously recent critics who acknowledge the Ordinary Language Philosophy claim that “ordinary language is all right” (Ludwig Wittgenstein) for practical understanding, in spite of conceptual blurriness and generality, and the potential for linguistic misfires and confusions.

Please email an abstract of no more than 300 words along with a short biographical statement to Luke Mueller ( by March 18, 2020.