Scandalous Spaces - SAMLA 92 (2020)

deadline for submissions: 
August 1, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
SAMLA / South Atlantic Modern Language Association
contact email: 

SAMLA 92: Literature and Provocation: Breaking Rules, Making Texts - November 13-15, 2020: Virtual Conference through Accelevents


Scandalous Spaces (Modernist Literature)

In 1907 at 46 Gordon Square, Bloomsbury Group writer and biographer, Lytton Strachey, famously walked into the drawing room, pointed at a stain on Vanessa Bell’s dress, and simply uttered, “Semen?” Both Vanessa and her sister, Virginia Woolf, paused for a moment and then burst out laughing along with Strachey. This comical moment that Woolf deemed as the “best illustration” of Bloomsbury caused “all barriers of reticence and reserve” to disappear between the group members. According to Woolf’s account in Moments of Being, “there was now nothing that one could not say, nothing that one could not do, at 46 Gordon Square.” Lytton Strachey’s one-word entrance into the drawing room is undoubtedly scandalous. This moment between Strachey, Bell, and Woolf mirrors the design of the room itself as Vanessa decorated the interiors using her radical, post-impressionist sensibilities. This combination of Strachey’s forward joke and the safety established between close friends in the Gordon Square drawing room created the kind of “scandalous” space that is so commonly associated with modernism. Whether they were writing about a complicated familial home, roaming around a metropolitan city, or displaced by colonization, modernists seem to have an inherent connection to scandalous space. 

In the spirit of the writers and artists who lived and worked at 46 Gordon Square, we invite paper submissions pertaining to the scandalous spaces of modernist literature (British, American, and European). We welcome projects that deal either with scandalous literary spaces (spaces depicted in works of literature) or the real-life spaces where authors lived and wrote (their domestic spaces, cities, workplaces, etc.). We are particularly interested in interdisciplinary projects that consider modernist literature in relation to art and crafts, interior design, landscape design, and architecture. Panelist will help shed light on some of the following questions: 

  • How do writers or characters recreate space for their own ends? To what extent are their spatial reconfigurations successful?
  • What do these scandalous spaces say about modernity and the modern condition?
  • How can physical space enable gender, class, or racial rebellions?
  • How do scandalous spaces help authors disrupt normative means of storytelling?
  • To what extent are traditional spatial boundaries (domestic space vs. the space of the metropolis, the private vs. public spheres, etc.) broken down in works of modernist literature?
  • How do modern socioeconomic issues and politics affect authors’ and/or characters’ engagements with space?

Please submit a 250-word abstract, a brief biographical statement (including affiliation), and AV requirements to Kelsey Carper ( by August 1st, 2020.