CFP: Museum Engagements in 19th- and 20th-Century Literatures (NEMLA 2016)

Please see below the CFP for a panel at the 2016 NeMLA convention, March 17-20, 2016 in Hartford, CT. Feel free to email me ( with any questions.

Museum Engagements in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Literatures

The rise of the modern museum was (and remains) a global event resonant across literary cultures. Germain Bazin termed the nineteenth century the “Museum Age” for the myriad ways the new phenomenon of the public art museum redefined the social status of art. The museum’s social, pedagogical, and ideological significance was widely debated by writers across these centuries who were uncertain or hesitant about the effects museums would have on art, aesthetic experience, and public education. Museums have been seen to enable modernist interests in classical and so-called primitive aesthetics and elicited the distrust of postmodern writers skeptical of the cultural unities that museum collections imply.
This session investigates how this development was received by nineteenth- and twentieth-century Anglophone authors writing during and immediately following the rise of the modern museum. How does the museum contour how we experience, think about, and value works of art? How did museums affect literary engagements with the visual arts, including ekphrastic writing? How do museums signify differently to writers of different genders, sexualities, or races? What influence did the museological drive to taxonomize art in historical narratives have on literary ideas of the artistic tradition? In what ways does a postmodern suspicion of grand narratives resist the institutionalization of culture in museum galleries? This session invites papers that approach issues including and beyond these, within any germane theoretical or disciplinary framework.
Please submit 300 word abstracts by September 30, 2015 to NEMLA’s online submission system: