CFP for the Modernist Studies Association’s Annual Conference

“Culture Industries”

Pasadena, CA, November 17-20, 2016

Hosts: Claremont Graduate University and Pomona College



Seminar Proposals: February 26, 2016

Workshop Proposals: February 26, 2016

Panel, Roundtable, and Digital Exhibition Proposals: April 15, 2016


The term “culture industries” may have been coined almost a century ago, but it remains as relevant as ever and provides the theme for the 2016 MSA annual conference in Pasadena, California. New modes of cultural production and consumption continue to inform our everyday lives, and they are increasingly shaped by the presence of innovative transport, communication, and media technologies. If distances are shrinking as a result, we need to continue addressing how the concepts of urban/regional, national/transnational, local/global cultures are getting redefined in the process. Southern California is an ideal site for such an exercise: once the capital of a monolithic culture industry reviled by Theodor Adorno, it has remained a lively nexus for an ethnically diverse population that encourages the proliferation of cultures in the plural. An ongoing challenge, then, involves the close examination of how the very concept of culture is increasingly bound up with new ways of thinking about old distinctions between high and low, serious and popular, aesthetics and form, politics and identity, self and other, human and machine. Topics for papers on this theme may also include:


  • interdisciplinary approaches to design
  • ecological utopias
  • static institutions and portable archives
  • digital non-humanities
  • altered experiences of time and space
  • unimaginable communities
  • media mashups
  • modernity as barbarity
  • the persistence of print


The conference organizers for “Culture Industries” invite proposals for seminars and pre-conference workshops (due Feb. 26), panels, roundtables, poster sessions, multimedia/digital exhibitions (due April 15). We encourage proposals relevant to the conference theme but welcome panel, seminar, and roundtable proposals on all topics related to modernism. The primary criterion for selection will be the quality of the proposal, not its relevance to the conference theme. We ask that proposals provide complete panels and roundtables. Individuals seeking to create or to participate in a panel or roundtable are encouraged to visit the MSA CFP page or the MSA Facebook page for guidelines to develop and opportunities to promote a panel or roundtable. All proposals must include requests for AV provisions.

All queries should be directed to

Streams: In order to encourage interdisciplinary and intercultural approaches and to draw upon the special opportunities presented by this year’s Southern California location, the Pasadena organizers will be considering panels run under two special streams: “Dream Factories,” which will focus on extraliterary topics such as surrealism, psychoanalysis, fashion, architecture, cinema and design; and “California and the Cultures of Modernism,” which will consider linguistic, cultural, and racial diversity within modernism. If you are interested in proposing a panel linked to either of these streams, please make this clear in your proposal. Please direct questions about streams to the Program Chair, Lisi Schoenbach, at, or to the Chair of Interdisciplinary Approaches, Scott Klein, at

Participation: Because we wish to involve as many people as possible as active participants, the MSA limits multiple appearances on the program. Thus, you may participate once, but only once, in each of the following categories:

  • Seminar, either as leader or as participant • Panel or roundtable, as participant (you may also chair a different panel or roundtable) • “What Are You Reading?” session

You may lead a seminar, present a paper on a panel, and participate in a “What Are You Reading” session, but you may not present two papers. MSA rules do not allow panel or roundtable organizers to chair their own session if they are also speaking in the session. The session chair must be someone who is otherwise not participating in the session. Panel organizers are encouraged to identify a moderator and include this information with their proposals; the MSA Program Committee can also ask another conference attendee to serve as a moderator. Participation in a pre-conference workshop or in a digital exhibition does not constrain other forms of participation.

All those who attend the MSA conference must be members of the organization with dues paid for 2016-2017 (MSA membership runs from July 1 until June 30 each year.) For information on MSA, please check the website. Participants are expected to present in person.


Deadline: February 26, 2015

Seminars are among the most unique features of the MSA conference. Participants write brief position papers (5-7 pages) that are circulated and read prior to the conference. Because their size is limited to 15 participants, seminars generate lively exchange and often facilitate future collaborations. The format also allows a larger number of conference attendees to seek financial support from their institutions as they educate themselves and their colleagues on subjects of mutual interest. Seminars are two hours in length. Because seminars led solely by graduate students are not likely to be accepted, we encourage interested graduate students to invite a faculty member to lead the seminar with them. Please note that this is the call for seminar leaders. Sign-up for seminar participants will take place on a first-come, first-served basis coinciding with registration for the conference.

Seminar Topics: There are no limits on topics, but past experience has shown that the more clearly defined the topic and the more guidance provided by the leader, the more productive the discussion. “Clearly defined” should not be confused with “narrow,” as extremely narrow seminar topics tend to exclude many potential participants. To scan past seminar topics, go to the Conference Archives on the MSA website, click the link to a prior conference, and then click on “Conference Schedule” or “Conference Program.” You’ll find seminars listed along with panels and other events.

Submit proposals by February 26, 2016 by completing the following online form: MSA 18 Seminar Proposal Form.

Deadline: February 26, 2016

Pre-conference workshops are held on the Thursday that the conference begins. They focus on topics related to professional life, such as publishing, teaching, the job market, mid-career challenges and opportunities, research and the liberal arts college, and alternative/non-academic jobs. Popular workshops in previous years have been on topics including, “What Do Presses Want from a First Book?,” “Digital Approaches to Modernism,” and “Critical Writing.” Participation in a pre-conference workshop does not constrain participation in other aspects of the conference.

Workshops should be participatory in format and can be either 90 or 120 minutes in length. They may be entirely led by one person or may include a panel of experts. Please note that this call is for workshop leaders and that you should be prepared to arrive at the conference venue. Registration for workshops will occur at the same time as conference registration.

Submit proposals by February 26, 2016 by completing the following online form: MSA18 Thursday Workshop Proposal Form.

Deadline: April 15, 2016

Successful proposals will introduce topics that promise to expand research and debate on a topic, and will present a clear rationale for the papers’ collective goal. Panel proposals that engage recent contentious research, exciting new approaches, or theoretical interventions into the field are encouraged. Topics are not limited to the theme conference theme.

Please bear in mind these guidelines:
We encourage interdisciplinary panels and strongly discourage panels on single authors. In order to allow for discussion, preference will be given to panels with three participants, though panels of four will be considered. Panels composed entirely of participants from a single department at a single institution are not likely to be accepted. Graduate students are welcome as panelists, but panels composed entirely of graduate students are less likely to be accepted than panels that include postdoctoral presenters together with graduate students.

Submit proposals by completing the following online form by April 15, 2016: MSA 18 Panel Proposal Form.

Deadline: April 15, 2016

All topics will be considered for roundtables, but we encourage proposals that develop the theme of the conference. Unlike panels, which generally feature a sequence of 15-20 minute talks followed by discussion, roundtables gather a group of participants around a shared concern in order to generate discussion among the participants and with the audience. To this end, instead of delivering full-length papers, participants are asked to deliver short position statements in response to questions distributed in advance by the organizer or to take turns responding to prompts from the moderator. The bulk of the session should be devoted to discussion. No paper titles are listed in the program, only the names of participants. Please bear in mind these guidelines:

Roundtables may feature as many as 6 speakers. We particularly welcome roundtables featuring participants from multiple disciplines, and we discourage roundtables on single authors. Roundtables composed entirely of participants from a single department at a single institution are not likely to be accepted. Graduate students are welcome as speakers, but roundtables composed entirely of graduate students are less likely to be accepted than those that include postdoctoral presenters together with graduate students.

Submit proposals by completing the following online form by April 15, 2016: Roundtable Proposal Form .

Deadline: April 15, 2016

Reflecting the growing role of the digital humanities in modernist studies and the proliferation of work that does not lend itself to presentation in the form of a scholarly paper, we invite proposals that provide a short overview (including web links) of 1) the nature, design, and purpose of a digital project; 2) how the project advances modernist studies; and 3) how the presenters would want to exhibit and explain the project at the conference. Be sure to list all participants and institutions involved in the project, and specify who among these would attend the conference.

Submit proposals by completing the following online form by April 15, 2016: Poster Session and Digital Exhibit Form.

Conference Access

The MSA is committed to ensuring that all conference registrants will be able to participate in conference events.

We ask that all conference attendees give thought to questions of access and work with the conference organizers to create an event that is welcoming to the entire community of participants.

If you would benefit from individual accommodations including, but not limited to, ASL translation, paper copies of session presentations, or large type documents, please contact the Program Committee Chair, Lisi Schoenbach, at