In Seuils (1987), Gérard Genette posed a rhetorical question about a canonical modernist text to highlight the functional importance of the then largely ignored paratext: “reduced to its text alone and without the help of any instructions for use, how would we read James Joyce’s Ulysses if it were not called Ulysses?” Genette undertook a synchronic structuralist account of the paratext, the body of productions, such as the title, author’s name, preface, epigraph, footnote, illustration, or dedicatory letter, that constitutes the zone of transition and transaction surrounding a text and presenting it as a text.
This proposed panel, Modernist Paratexts, seeks papers working from the diachronic angle: What was happening to the paratext in the modernist period? Which paratextual forms proliferated, which declined, and why? To what uses was this “privileged site of a pragmatics and a strategy” put? In what ways was the paratext used by authors and their agents “in the service, well or badly understood or accomplished, of a better reception of the text and a more pertinent reading” of it? While Genette’s work productively frames this panel’s inquiries, all theoretical and critical approaches to the paratext are welcome. In keeping with the conference theme “Culture Industries,” papers might consider the new modes of cultural production and consumption announced or invited by the paratext in the modernist period.
Potential paper topics include but are not limited to:
· The fate and/or uses of one or more paratextual forms, such as the preface, epigraph, footnote, illustration, and dedicatory letter; authorial or non-authorial paratexts; original, subsequent, or belated paratexts
· Paratexts mediating different reading publics
· The paratext and new communication or media technologies
· The paratext in periodicals or little magazines
· The paratext and small printing presses
· The paratext in other art forms or media
Please send an abstract of 350-500 words and a brief bio-bibliographical statement by March 15 to Sarah Copland (firstname.lastname@example.org).