Call for submissions

Call for Papers: Phalansteries, Groups, Circles and Guilds. Modernist Aesthetics and the Utopian Lure of Community. 1880-1940

Phalansteries, Groups, Circles and Guilds. Modernist Aesthetics and the Utopian Lure of Community. 1880-1940

Special issue of the online peer-reviewed journal Other Modernities/Altre Modernità/Autres Modernités ISSN 2035-7680 (, edited by Caroline Patey and Laura Scuriatti

Following a very successful panel at the 2014 EAM conference in Helsinki the editors are seeking additional contributions.

Deadline: 1st December 2015

Authors guidelines:

Expected publication date: Spring 2016

CFP description:

While Modernism, especially literary Modernism, has long been investigated in the wake of the primary role played by individual voices and authorship, critical studies increasingly investigate the roles played by group artistry in the elaboration of avant-garde and modernist aesthetics and ethics throughout Europe and the United States. Together with the more renown instances such as the Wiener Werkstätte, Bauhaus, the Omega workshops and the groupings which followed the outbreak and success of the Russian Revolution, a number of less known collective experiences (circles, little magazines, theatre companies, guilds) challenged the consolidated idea of authorship and creation and are crucial for understanding the writing practices in the first half of the twentieth century. In many ways, the utopia of new and unfettered forms of expression seems to go hand in hand with the experimentation of unconventional modes of living. Whether institutionalised or informal, most of these groupings, which were housed both in urban and rural surroundings, involved artists, authors and thinkers working together in a collective attempt to reassess/reformulate the fundamental questions about art, creativity and craft in the light of communal practices and choices.

We seek original contributions exploring the diverse communities disseminated throughout Europe, with a focus on literary practices, and the role they played in the emergence of new literary languages, hoping to be able to exhaustively map such efforts.

The following aspects are of particular interest:

1. The ‘prehistory’ of utopian artistry: in the case of Britain, the role played by such people as William Morris and iconic places as he Red House or Kelmskott Manor in disrupting Victorian conventions, existential and aesthetic alike. Investigation of the influence of the Morris constellation onto later utopian experiences, as well as the assessment of the literary output of the rural community gathered around Edward Carpenter at Millthorpe and his militant activity for the rights of homosexuals.

2. Communal living and writing in Britain and Europe.

We aim at drawing a first map of these experiences throughout Europe.

3. Journals, small magazines, salons, theatre groups. We are interested in contributions investigating these collective ventures in cultural capitals or marginal places, where adventurous and ferociously independent periodicals write a special chapter of co-writing and associate editorship. 

4. Authorship between the individual and the collective voice. On the methodological and theoretical side of things, we are interested in issues of signature, authorship, authority, format, visibility, impact and acceptance within the various communal experiences. We also welcome investigations on the episodes of intermediality suggested by the coexistence of diverse forms of artistic expression in the community, and their impact on the aesthetic discourses of the group.

Contributions should aim at: 

  1. Filling the white places of our initial map by investigating experiences throughout Europe.

  2. Elaborating on the theoretical aspects of authorial identity, agency, originality, subversion.

  3. Interrogating the role played by the multiple discourses entailed by an artistic community.

  4. Exploring and assessing the cultural and political status of such communities in relation to the societies they are part of.

Editors’ profiles

Caroline Patey has read English and Comparative literature in Paris (Paris III), Dublin UCD and the Università degli Studi, Milan, where she is now professor of English literature. Her research has oscillated between the two poles of Renaissance and Modernist Studies and recently become increasingly comparative in scope and methods, focusing on visual and textual modernity in Joyce, Proust, Ford, Woolf, Conrad and Eliot; following the trail of anthropology and literature, and also concentrating on urban culture and literature, in the works of Henry James, Conrad, Ford, and Isherwood. Among her last investigations, the intersection between museums and literature; in this area of research she has co-edited The Exhibit in the Text. The Museological Practices of Literature (Oxford, Peter Lang, 2009) and edited the Italian translation of Sir John Soane’s Crude Hints towards an History of my House (Per una storia della mia casa, Palermo, Sellerio, 2010). She has also lately promoted the research project on literature and nomadism and co-edited the proceedings of the related conference, Transits. The Nomadic Geographies of Anglo-American Modernism (Oxford, Peter Lang, 2010). In 2010, Caroline Patey has co-organized the conference Provence and the British Imagination. (Proceedings published in Milan, Ledizioni, 2013). In December 2011 she has hosted in Milan an international conference to investigate the inheritance of Virginia Woolf and James Joyce in the seventieth anniversary of their death: Parallaxes. Virginia Woolf meets James Joyce (Proceedings published Cambridge Scholar Press, 2014). She has recently co-edited Will the Modernist. Shakespeare and the Historical European Avant-Gardes (Oxford, Peter Lang, 2014) and contributed to the volume with the essay: ‘Beckett’s Shakespeare, or, Silencing the Bard’. 

Laura Scuriatti studied English and German literature at the University of Milan, and holds a PhD in English Literature from the University of Reading. Her research focuses on the relationship between literature and the visual arts in modernism and the avant-garde, and on gender theory. She was a teaching assistant at the University of Reading and is Junior Professor of Comparative Literature at Bard College Berlin (formerly European College of Liberal Arts), where she has been teaching since 2003. She has published on Mina Loy, Ford Madox Ford, H.G. Wells, and Sacheverell Sitwells. She has co-edited, with Caroline Patey, the volume The Exhibit in the Text. The Museological Practices of Literature (Oxford, Peter Lang, 2009) and, with Sara Fortuna, Dekalog. On Dogville (London and New York: Wallflower Press/Columbia University Press, 2012).