MSA 18: Slowing Down Modernism
Cfp MSA 18 / Pasadena, CA / 17-20 November 2016
The emergence and proliferation of new media technologies around the turn of the century (mass print, film, broadcasting) altered the speed, urgency and scale of cultural production. This was reflected in the literature produced at the time, which became obsessed with technology and velocity, with ‘the new!’ and ‘the now!’ Yet alternative temporalities in a period David Trotter describes as the First Media Age by and large remain uncharted terrain. This panel is interested in a modernism that resists ideas of velocity and urgency in both its aesthetics and its modes of production. Slowness is modernism’s antidote. While Beckett is a prime suspect in a discussion of the unhurried pace and rhythm of modernist writing, the panel also hopes to zero in on less canonical texts and contexts. In what ways, for instance, did long bouts of inactivity in the trenches affect the writing of soldiers in World War One? How did banality and boredom inform cultural production? Which processes were involved in the translation of ideas or the circulation of periodicals on the outskirts of Empire? How does modernist experimentation with language, especially stream of consciousness, play with different rhythms? Which techniques, ranging from the handwritten periodical to Nancy Cunard’s use of an antique printing press, counterintuitively persisted in the 20th century? Taking its cue from the work of Miller (2013) and Majumdar (2013), this panel places slowness at the heart of the modern artistic project. In doing so it aims to consider complementary narratives that see modernism as a mode whose emergence, aesthetics and production were less fast-paced and immediately revolutionary than is often thought.
This panel is interested in contributions on the idea of slowness in relation to the modernist aesthetic and newly emerging media and technologies; in slowness and affect (boredom, waiting, endurance); in slowness and the periodical press (“slow print”); in slowness and form (the long novel, the encyclopaedic); in slowness and history (protracted revolutions, permanent warfare); in the development of modernism (progress v. stasis); in deep time, killing time and modernist conceptions of timelessness; and, more generally, in temporalities that challenge the rapidly modernizing, fast-paced nature of early-20th-century life.
Please submit abstracts of 200-300 words and a short scholarly bio to firstname.lastname@example.org by 10 April 2016.