Artistic Commitments in the UK 1880-1950
An international conference to be held at the University of Burgundy
October 23 and 24, 2013
Within capitalist economics the end of the 19th century witnessed the progressive autonomy of the arts and artists alongside other fields. Autonomisation was however partial and relations between the artistic and the political fields could occasionally be conflictual. Commitment featured among a number of possible ways for artists to interfere in the political sphere. This symposium will deal with the various modes of commitment from 1880 to 1950, as the period witnessed the massive political upheavals that shaped the twentieth century.
Late nineteenth- and twentieth-century nationalisms, political crises, the Great War, the totalitarian regimes of the 1920s-1930s, World War II and its aftermath were key elements that led writers and artists to explore new expressions of commitment, to redefine the modes and practical modalities of their public positioning within ever-changing cultural and political conditions. This conference will be devoted to assessing how the confrontation between artists and the political order elicited an array of artistic responses and modes of action. It will also examine how new modes of commitment conversely inflected the political order, giving it unexpected contours.
We will welcome proposals from scholars in the humanities, including literature, history, history of art, book and media history and political science. The main focus will be on the forms of commitment of British and English-speaking writers and artists. However, their inspirational impact on other European artists may also be discussed.
Proposals should concern both the forms of commitment and the essence of the links that were established with the political sphere to fashion the artistic and intellectual landscape of the transitional decades between the long nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century. Proposals may also explore transitional periods as well as periods of overlapping or conflicting sensibilities, with a view to reassessing the topos of a clear break between the various phases of modernism: a topos which has so far clearly (and perhaps mistakenly) prevailed in current narratives of modernism.
Possible topics might include :
the forms of commitment characterizing the various avant-gardes;
individual and collective positioning, and their significance in the cultural and political configurations of the period;
the nature of late nineteenth and twentieth-century humanism, disenchantment and re-enchantment;
formal or informal gatherings and groupings of artists;
the practice and politics of outrage, notable manifestos and calls to action or demonstrations;
the commitment of various media: as observable through literary or art reviews, newspapers and journals, and their various responses to censorship or propaganda;
the role of illustration and images with particular emphasis on lesser-known magazines that appeared after the avant-gardes.
Papers not exceeding 25 minutes will be delivered in English or in French.
A selection of papers will be published.
Please, send 400-word proposals with names and affiliation to:
Deadline for sending proposals: 15 February 2013
Notification of acceptance: 10 March 2013