Touching the Body in Pieces: Affective Ecologies of the Modern Body (NeMLA- March 2016, Hartford, CT)
From artist Hans Bellmer’s distorted dolls, to Rupert Brooke’s “dust” in a “corner of a foreign field,” to Virginia Woolf’s “orts, scraps, and fragments,” bodies – textual, phenomenological, cultural, political, and physical – seem to fall to pieces in modernism. How can we conceptualize the modern body in light of its affective and ecological surrounds?
Broadly, this panel seeks to examine these ecologies of bodies and their surrounds in modernism. Specifically, we endeavor to explore textual bodies and their composition (or decomposition) in ways that help us understand the ecological placement of the body as it engages with modernism’s historical and physical environments. What is the relation of modern bodies to both “hard” and “soft” surrounds? How is the natural body “queered” by the natural world or other surroundings? Does the queer intervene in these conceptions of dualistic bodies, as Judith Butler argues? How is the wounded body – which seems to negotiate both the hard and soft by opening permeable bodily and subjective bounds – represented in or through landscapes of war, or in relationships with nature and landscape? What is embodiment, or what are the boundaries of the body and its hard surrounds if the body itself is an affective environment or ecology of its own? How does modernity’s affective shift register or occlude a relationship between subject the “outside”? How is the body and/or its emotions disseminated, or dismantled? Related elements to consider could include WWI, WWII, “publicity,” cities and urbanity, T.S. Eliot’s cool impersonality, nation or politics, robotic or prosthetic bodies; and in parallel, the domestic, rurality, sentimentality, the homefront, sympathy or suffrage.
We welcome all approaches to the question of the modern body’s conceptualization or re-/de-conceptualization, including those that cross disciplinary bounds.