Peripheral Modernisms in Theory

deadline for submissions: 
January 15, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
Pavel Andrade / Texas Tech University
contact email: 

Peripheral Modernisms in Theory

Modernism/modernity Print Plus Cluster

Deadline for Submissions: January 15, 2024
Editor: Pavel Andrade, Texas Tech University
Contact email:

In the recently published transcription of his 1987 lecture “When Was Modernism?” (2022), Raymond Williams emphatically resists the notion of a generalizable modernism by arguing that “the appropriation of ‘modern’ for a selection of what have in fact been the modern processes is an act of pure ideology. It attempts to relegate to a pre-history—or to irrelevant provinces in which these key modern processes have not yet occurred but may be hoped to be about to occur, or if they do not occur quickly enough may be helped to move on to occur—the notion that that is so” (217). This proposed Modernism/modernity Print+ Cluster recuperates the spirit of Williams’ critique of the notion of a modern universality, to interrogate what conceptual relation might be established between the aesthetic innovations that developed semi- autonomously in the global periphery, and the pressures that the canonization of modernism as a “historically limited cultural representation” (Blanco Aguinaga 9) created for those same aesthetic traditions. In other words, while it would be implausible to reject peripheral literatures’ claim to originality based on the fantasy of a “Eurochronology” (Hayot), it would be equally implausible to suggest that peripheral literatures could remain impervious to the ideological canonization of Anglo-European modernism and its symbolic articulation as a metric for aesthetic value; the notion of peripheral modernism designates this formal conflict. Rather than dissolving the problem by recourse to global, planetary, or alternative models that aim to rectify modernism’s Eurocentric orientations by leveling its imaginary playing field, the notion of peripheral modernism centers the constitutively uneven configuration of the capitalist system as registered in literary form, underscoring its inherent structurality, organization, and hierarchy (WReC). This is why, as Benita Parry points out, an inquiry into the stylistic mannerisms of modern peripheral literatures “is inseparable from considering the distinctive experiences of modernity outside Western Europe and North-America, but within an imperialist world- system” (27). Peripheral modernism is the name of this literary threshold: outside the core but within the system.

This cluster invites short (about 3,000 words, inclusive of notes) interventions that actively theorize the category of peripheral modernism. Submissions that explore modernism’s contradictory assimilation across the global periphery, in both literary theory and aesthetic practice, as something simultaneously belated and premature—belated in relation to the formal innovations of Anglo-Europan modernism, and premature in relation to the modern processes experienced in the world-system’s metropoles. What are the alternate temporalities and possible futures that developed from the literary conjugation of modernist technique and modern processes (urbanization, industrialization, rural-urban migration, etc.)? What frictions, consonancies, and instigations emerged from the encounter of modernism’s formal imperatives with local experiences and materials across the global periphery? Can peripheral modernisms articulate divergent futures that interrogate the temporality of capitalism? From combined and uneven modernisms to anti-imperialist topographies, this cluster aims to revitalize the collective and internationalist projections inherent in the notion of peripheral modernism.


Blanco Aguinaga, Carlos. “On Modernism from the Periphery.” Modernism and Its Margins: Reinscribing
Cultural Modernity from Spain and Latin America, edited by Anthony L. Geist and José Monleón, Garland,
1999, pp. 3–16.
Hayot, Eric. On Literary Worlds. Oxford University Press, 2012.
Parry, Benita. “Aspects of Peripheral Modernisms.” Ariel, vol. 40, no. 1, 2009, pp. 27–55.
Williams, Raymond. “When Was Modernism?” Culture and Politics: Class, Writing, Socialism, Verso, 2022, pp.
WReC, (Warwick Research Collective). Combined and Uneven Development: Towards a New Theory of World-
Literature. Liverpool University Press, 2015.

Instructions and tentative timeline:

• Submit 250-300-word abstract and short bio to by January 15, 2024
• Notification of selected abstracts by January 31, 2024
• First drafts of selected submissions due April 30, 2024
• Cluster Workshop: May 2024 (TBD)
• Final versions due August 31, 2024
• Submission for peer-review: September 2024

Clusters are fully peer-reviewed (as a unit). Acceptance of a piece by the cluster’s editor is not a guarantee of its publication in the journal.