CFP: The Resurfacing of “Modernism” in Contemporary English Fiction and Poetry

Date: Thursday, 29 October 2015

Location: Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Organizers: Dr. Dennis Kersten and Dr. Usha Wilbers

Proposals deadline: May 15, 2015

The early twenty-first century has seen the resurfacing of Modernism in English literature. Authors like Will Self and Tom McCarthy have actively discussed how they deal with the legacy of Modernism in their work. The reception of a number of contemporary British novels, among which Nicola Barker’s Darkmans (2007), McCarthy’s C (2010) and Zadie Smith’s NW(2012), also suggests a resurrection of the label “Modernism” in the critical appraisal of literature. Reviewers use the label, as well as related terms such as “avant-garde”, “experimental”, “Futurist,” and “Joycean,” to categorise and evaluate these works. However, the phenomenon is still uncharted, lacking a clear definition and raising complex issues, as is also shown by the works of scholars like David James and Marjorie Perloff. Are novels by, for instance, Barker, McCarthy and Smith instances of what might be termed “retro-Modernism”, as imitative of canonised early-twentieth-century avant-garde fiction? Are they “neo-Modernist” texts, reinventing Modernism as we thought we knew it? Or does the use of “Modernist” terms signal the advent of “Metamodernism”, a relatively new, but ever-expanding field of research?

This expert meeting seeks to explore the revival of Modernism in contemporary English fiction and poetry. Our aim is to connect scholars working on this topic in order to (further) define the origins, development and implications of this trend. We are predominantly interested in how the contemporary literary field—authors, publishers, critics, academics—deals with the label “Modernism”; not necessarily in close readings of Modernist texts or the after lives of the canonical Modernist authors of the early-twentieth century. A selection of the papers presented during the expert meeting will be prepared for publication.

We welcome proposals for 15 to 20 minute presentations about the above themes.

Please send a 250 word proposal by May 15 to the organizers: Dennis Kersten:d.kersten@let.ru.nl / Usha Wilbers: u.wilbers@let.ru.nl