The second international conference of the French Society for Modernist Studies
Société d’études modernistes (SEM)
22-24 June 2016
University Paris Ouest Nanterre

Keynote speakers:
Laura MARCUS (New College, Oxford)
Jean-Michel RABATÉ (University of Pennsylvania)

Call for Papers:
In continuation of the society’s inaugural conference on Modernist communities, we now propose to explore the debate over emotions in the Modernist era. Despite famous claims of impersonality and the suppression of the “I” from the literary work, beginning with Ezra Pound’s merciless editing of T.S. Eliot’s Waste Land, the transparency and objectivity of an emotion-free subject has remained an ever-receding horizon. Even Ezra Pound’s image is “an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time,” which combines the rush of “primary” conception and emotion with the impulse to create the new forms of a new aesthetics (Blast 1914). Rationality and the irrational collide in the vortex, as emotions are in fact viewed in an ambivalent manner by Modernists, both as the sentimentalist rubbish assigned to a schematic revision of late Romanticism, thus to be eradicated, and as the very matter for the work of art, for aesthetic experimentation, and for the education of the public, in the context of an unnerving historical modernity.
Emotions create webs of interaction, or conversely isolate the individual in the labyrinth of intimacy. Language emerges as the mode of expression of emotions, or as the very obstacle separating us from a fantasized experience of pure emotion. We hope to foster reflection and discussion that will go beyond the paradox of a passionately anti-emotional Modernism towards a reconsideration of the large extent to which Modernism attempts to channel, remotivate, and revalue the power of emotion.
As the conference is organized by the French Society of Modernist Studies—Société d’Etudes Modernistes—, we seek to bring together scholars from all countries and hope to strengthen collaborations between French and international researchers.

Possible paper topics may include, but are not limited to:
Emotions across literary genres
Emotions across the arts and the new media (music, dance, film, radio, etc.)
Locating emotions: the spaces and places of emotions
Historicizing emotions: the war and the post-war, historical shocks, new emotions
The temporalities of emotion
Emotions and the body
Emotional disorders and apathy
Emotions and the sciences
Emotions across nations and cultures
Emotions, high culture, and mass culture
Emotions and gender
Emotions, movement, and transportation
The ethics of emotions
Political emotions
Modernism and the theories of affect

Organizers : Hélène Aji (, Caroline Pollentier (, Naomi Toth (

Scientific committee :
Hélène Aji (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre), Catherine Bernard (Université Paris Diderot), Nicholas Manning (Université Paris Sorbonne), Laura Marcus (New College, Oxford), Jean-Michel Rabaté (University of Pennsylvania), Caroline Pollentier (Université Paris Sorbonne nouvelle–Paris 3), Julie Taylor (Northumbria University), Naomi Toth (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre), Steven Yao (Hamilton College, New York).

Papers will be delivered in English.
Please submit abstracts of no more than 300 words and a short bio-bibliography to all three organisers by 15 November 2015.