London Modernism Seminar – May 10

The final London Modernism Seminar of this academic year will take place on Saturday May 10, 2014 in Senate House, room G37, 11:00-13:00. The topic is Modernism and Ethics and we’re very pleased to welcome as speakers Shane Weller and Iain Bailey. Their titles are:
Shane Weller (Kent), ‘The Ethics of Late Modernism’
Iain Bailey (Manchester), ‘Ern Malley and Affirmative Culture’
Please see below for abstracts and biographies of the speakers. The seminar is open to everyone interested in modernism.
Shane Weller, ‘The Ethics of Late Modernism’
Far from having exclusively aesthetic implications, late modernism’s response to what it takes to be the catastrophic implications of modernity is highly relevant for any critique of the contemporary world and its institutions, shaped as that world is by the globalization of the Enlightenment project and the consequent integration of various forms of alterity, at once political, cultural, ethnic and religious. Taking the work of Samuel Beckett as my primary case study, I argue in this paper for a conception of late modernism as primarily a post-Second World War phenomenon characterized by what I describe as an ‘anethical’ attitude, which is reflected in a particular approach towards language.
Biographical Note
Shane Weller is Professor of Comparative Literature, Co-Director of the Centre for Modern European Literature, and Head of the School of European Culture and Languages at the University of Kent. His publications include Beckett, Literature and the Ethics of Alterity (2006), Literature, Philosophy, Nihilism: The Uncanniest of Guests (2008), and Modernism and Nihilism (2011).
Iain Bailey, ‘Ern Malley and Affirmative Culture’
This paper takes as its point of departure the Ern Malley affair, a literary hoax perpetrated on the editors of an Australian literary journal in 1944. Its principal focus will be on the rhetorical work that follows in the wake of the poems’ publication and seeks to account for them, either in enjoyment of the hoax itself or to recuperate for the poems an independent aesthetic value. The paper will look at the way aesthetic and ethical judgments run together in these efforts; more specifically, it will examine the different ways in which they accord value to rationalisation, not only by negotiating with questions about intention, but also in foregrounding the problem of tone.
 
Iain Bailey is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Manchester. He has published essays on Samuel Beckett, intertextuality, tone and the archive; his book, Samuel Beckett and the Bible, was published by Bloomsbury earlier this year. With Ben Ware, he is co-organising ‘Modernism and the Moral Life’, a 1-day symposium in Manchester on 30 May.